Jul 28, 2009

Mountain Biking in the foothills of the Andes



We went mountain biking for half a day in the Quebrada del Toro, or Bull Canyon, a week ago. It was fantastic! Made me wonder what have I been doing all this time, limiting myself to cities and museums. Mind you, I love museums, and I grew up in a city, so there are things to be said for that itinerary, but being outdoors while doing self-propelled sports really makes my heart sing.

We followed the tracks of the famous Tren a las Nubes, or Train to the Clouds. It was originally conceived as a way to get freight from northern Argentina over the mountains to Chile and an ocean port, but it proved to be too slow and costly. Likewise for passenger service. Now it functions only as a tourist enterprise. It only runs once a week on Saturdays, so crossing this long bridge, 150 meters long, was no problem.

After the ride we had a tasty lunch at a little comedor with our guide, Francisco, who is the sole proprietor of MountainBike Salta. Super friendly guy and he ran a great trip. Just the right amount of attentiveness and hands off for Elizabeth and I, as we are two adventureous, fit gals.

Anyhow, though this may be a mountain biking post, I still have to mention the food. We had empanadas, which are ubiquitous throughout Argentina. These tasty little savory turnovers can be filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables. They may be baked or deep fried. Usually the crust is bread dough-like, but in Buenos Aires they were more flaky, like pie crust. Almost always they are delicious and inexpensive. The other part of our post bike ride lunch was an ensalada completa, which is a salad with any number of very fresh greens, tomatoes, carrots, onions, hard boiled eggs and cubes of ham. Always with the ham here in Argentina, it appears on so many different dishes. And always salads are served with oil and vinegar. Always. We have not run across a poor salad yet. For you Coca Cola fans, that is a liter of coke on the table, in glass. Eat your heart out.

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