(March 30 – written by Nancy)
We didn’t get quite the quiet, peaceful sleep we were hoping for last night. Dave’s insistence on not putting the rainfly on meant that the nice bright moon in clear sky was like an overhead light on all night. And there was a nice porch light on that also provided additional light to assist the moonlight. I finally had to get a shirt out of my bag to cover my head. Dave, of course, continued to blissfully snore away…
We actually got into the tent about 8:30 or so as it was dark by then (well, as dark as it can be with a bright moon and porchlight) and about 10 or so a car drove up and there was lots of chatting between the camp owners and someone. We heard a tent going up and realised that there was another touring cyclist across the yard – not sure if he came in with the car or separately. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to chat with him, as he hadn’t surfaced from his tent by the time we left this morning.
The ride today was relatively flat – a couple of small hills but nothing like yesterday’s climbing. It was mostly farmland as far as we could see. No too inspiring, kind of a transit day. The title of today’s entry comes from the noise we heard all day. The highway almost all the way today was concrete slabs, with a lip between each of the slabs where the slabs had settled. So every car going by (and there were a lot of them) made a thapping noise as they went over each slab. It’s enough to drive you mad until you convince yourself to ignore it. Fortunately, the shoulder was asphalt so at least we didn’t have to ride over each of the bumps.
It was calm and a nice 22C when we left the camping area (tearing ourselves away from Paco, who was really in the mood to play). The first 28k went fast and we were at our morning tea spot before 9. Special treat today – morning tea (okay, second breakfast) at McDonalds in Santiago. Dave insisted, so of course we had to stop. It took a bit longer than we expected as it was very busy and they didn’t seem to have enough people working to manage the crowd. It looks like today is a holiday here as there were lots of families getting breakfast.
After we were suitably refreshed, we hit the road again to continue our way, heading mostly east. It doesn’t take long for it to warm up here, especially when there are no clouds so it was getting pretty hot. We stopped several times for cold drinks – lots of places seemed to be closed for the holiday but we did find enough open to keep us hydrated. The wind started to pick up and the last 20k were pretty rough directly into a very strong headwind. I put Dave on the front, he didn’t mind.
We had a couple of possible hotels picked out in Aguadulce, our destination for today. We spotted a gelato shop along the highway as we came into town so stopped to fortify ourselves with a couple of milkshakes before starting the hotel search. We’ve ended up at a hotel right on the highway, The Hotel Interamericano – sounds a bit fancier than it is but it seems pretty clean, we have air conditioning and there was kind of warm water in the shower. It may turn out to have been a bad choice though as the noise level is pretty high right now from traffic on the highway. Hopefully the traffic will die down a bit later so that we can get some sleep – may have to get the earplugs out tonight.
We think tomorrow will be our last night on the road before reaching Panama City on Sunday – hard to believe that we are almost there. We are looking forward to taking a few days off and having a look around. Dave is really excited about riding over the Bridge of the Americas, so now I have another thing to research over the next few days to see if that is even possible.