What a beauty! here we were in this rather understated hotel in Villa Union, Argentina last night and earlier over a few cervazas been talking about robustness of the structure, typical of many it looked like the Big Bad Wolf could blow it down without much effort – when at 3.30 am the whole place just started quivering. We decided this was not the place to be and started to dress – not a good look running out in the street in the buff – and began to head downstairs. The quake then stopped and we settled back to sleep in our rickety structure, thinking that’s the longest quake we’ve ever endured – well over a minute – not thinking that just some 400 kms and the world’s 2nd tallest mountain range away all hell had broken loose and that Chile was in chaos thanks to the 8.8 quake. It’s still carnival time here and last night the street parade in Villa Union began at around 11 pm and was still going strong after midnight when we retired. Given the copious quantities of booze consumed and unadulterated joy people were in, it is doubtful that many would have felt the quake – they would have just known they were pissed.
It was a different story this morning. We attempted to ride back into the Andes to have another night tonight at altitude – it saves on the booze you know. But all roads into the mountains including the main passes to Chile have been closed by the police. The fear is that the roads and tunnels have been undermined so it will take a couple of days to be sure things are okay. Next week we ride down to the centre of the quake at Concepion and onwards through the Lake District. Right now those plans look a bit at risk. With floods stuffing the visit to Machu Picchu and now the quake causing such misery in Chile, this ride is getting additional elements that we didn’t bargain for.