This stretch between San Juan and Mendoza sucks. 100 miles. Nothing to look at, save for watching out for the TONS of trucking traffic on this narrow, shoulderless road. This is our third 70ish mile day. We’re making a run for Mendoza for New Years.
The hot, dry wind burns my eyes. We carry eye drops now. I have a (only slightly irrational) fear that my eyes will desiccate to raisins in these conditions. The water in our water bottles is hot enough to make tea with it. At the risk of stating the obvious, hot water on a hot day is NOT refreshing. Not to mention the water starts to take on a plasticy taste from the bottles.
I just want to go swimming. I just want to NOT be so friggin’ hot. I want for these things with every fiber of my being.
As I scan the horizon for signs of water or a swimming hole, the chorus from Robert Earl Keen’s Not A Drop of Rain repeats like a broken record in my mind. (Though in my mind it’s Shawn Colvin’s cover…♫It’s been a long hot summer, not a drop of rain♫)
Midday, we stopped at a roadside stand for a refreshing watermelon snack. We sat in the shade with the old man who owned the stand until his wife called him in for lunch/siesta. Reluctant to leave, we stayed in the shade with the melons. Other people stopped by and after overcoming their initial shock to see two tourists running the melon stand, they asked about purchasing a melon. But there were no prices or container to leave money in, and we were all unsure about the protocol in this situation. So they left. Another example of the absence of capitalist mentality in the Argentinian culture.
Then, just before sunset we start to feel cool, fat raindrops. We don’t think it will amount to anything more than a light sprinkle. We’re in a desert and we just read that Mendoza has great wine because of the lack of rain (better grapes because they have control of their irrigation).
What proceeded was one of the wildest and crazy storms we’ve experienced on this trip. It began with huge balls of hail ruthlessly pelting us. I thought I was so smart with my helmet on, hearing the ice ping off my protective cover, until a few smaller ones fit through the vent holes making me wish I was still wearing the watermelon rind. When the hail subsided, it was followed by torrents of rain. Buckets. Pitchforks and hammer handles. Cats and dogs. The heavens opened and they were all falling from the sky.
So much for controlled irrigation.
We fled to a church, which was locked, but we sheltered under the overhang of the roof. Watching the water pour off the roof, we thought, best not let this water go to waste! So we stripped down, stood under the eave, and enjoyed a rinse.
As the rain came down visibility was near zero. If anyone could see us, dancing naked in the rain outside the church, I didn’t care. Because in this moment, it was just us and our pure joy.