The scenery was very different than yesterday. Today was hot and dusty, and the vegetation was mostly scrub and cactus. We passed a few small towns, several dozen homes, and the world's highest vineyard, Bodegas Colome.
In one town, we bought a bag of coca leaves. Coca is the plant used to produce cocaine (although coca leaves are perfectly legal and do not stimulate the central nervous system in the way that cocaine does). Andeans chew coca leaves for its mild energy boost, similar to coffee. They also use coca leaves to treat altitude sickness, asthma, ulcers, and a variety of other illnesses.
I stuffed about 10 coca leaves between my gums and cheek (in the same way that people chew tobacco). I am not sure how much energy I got from the coca, but after 20-30 minutes my gums went numb, just like Novocaine. The leaves didn't taste too good either. Andeans add quinoa ash to flavor the coca leaves.
By 7pm, and with an hour of light remaining, we reached the halfway point. Thirty kilometers stood between us and Molinos. Gonzalo and I finished the ride at 9.30pm after riding about 90 minutes in pitch black. The support vehicle tailed us to illuminate the road.
We are staying in a hotel that was once the home of the last Spanish governor of the Salta area in the early 1800s.
|At our Cachi hotel.|
|We did a small tour of Cachi before leaving.|
|A typical Argentine lunch: beer.|
|We took Route 40 south today. Only 4,497 kilometers to the start of the road!|
|A local artisan community making ponchos.|
|Icecream and water.|
|Stuffing coca leaves into my mouth.|
|Gonzalo's longest ride ever.|