Somewhere on a parallel universe my alter ego offered his better half the opportunity to visit the baubles counter of the local jewellery store. Personally I thought I had offered it in this, my universe, but I’ve been advised otherwise. This dislocation of ideas my explain my initial confusion between two close running rivers. The Rio Diamante, which on closer inspection turned out to actually be the Rio Actuel. It was the latter that offered up the solution to the ’rocks on fingers’ conundrum.
On the strenuous advice of other cyclists, we’ve made a slight detour from the direct run between Malargue and San Rafael, going to El Niuel and dropping down into the Cañon de Atuel. We’ve opted to forgo an asphalted road for a session on ripio, so are hopping that the effort will be worth while. On some occasions these grit road have required so much concentration that it’s been difficult to take in anything of our surroundings. Our guide book was some what less than overenthusiastic: ‘the locals call it their Grand Canyon’, and ’it has four dams, but still worthwhile’. The same author had also described El Niuel as ’podunk’. Not the world’s happiest chocolate button. The latter had given the impression of a ’three Gorges’, vast areas of flooded and swamped canyon lands, geological treasures lost to our insatiable thirst for electrical power. His first description had suggested a corniche road that stays up on the surface, offering the occasional glimpse down into a hole. The Arizonian version is ‘Grand’, as in massive, but it’s near impossible to gain any comprehension of depth, short of climbing down inside, there’s little to offer any intimation of scale. So we head off the main highway to find out for ourselves if there is a difference.
The indifferent, unflattering ‘Podunk’ would describe a rather large proportion of rural towns, so I assume our author got out the wrong side of the bed that morning.