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Mercedes to San Javier/Puerto Viejo

On 10 January was my longest trip yet – more than 90km from Mercedes to Puerto Viejo near San Javier, on the Rio Uruguay.

As usual, I left early to get out of Mercedes early. Having found alcohol for my Trangia burner the day before, I prepared myself a coffee and had some breakfast before I set off – again at about 8am. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to pay for my camping, as there was nobody in the office yet, and the other staff working there told me to just leave... so I did.

 

To get out of Mercedes, I first had to cross over the Rio Negro, and then went up another gentle hill. Shortly after a peaje I took a right turn – this was already Ruta 24, but at that stage without tarmac. But the road I was on felt to busy... There even was a sign “Paysandu”, but also another sign “don't use after rain”, but the road was reasonably good, and there really was much less traffic – and it did cut about 10km off my journey.

Soon I got back onto a tarmac road – and more traffic. There were a lot of big HGV carrying tree trunks (in the other direction), and returning empty. I really made good use of my mirrors on the day.

The wind was much stronger today, and as usual when you are cycling, it blew in the wrong directions. Nevertheless, without the wind it would have been impossible to cycle because of the heat. So in some way I was glad for the wind.

Soon I reached the turning to Nuevo Berlin, where I had first planned to turn off and stay for the night. However, I had changed my plans, and had decided to continue to San Javier or Puerto Viejo – a much longer trip, but then shorter to get to Paysandu. So I ignored the turn to Nuevo Berlin and continued on Ruta 24 direction north.

 

I did get more tired, and the heat was taking its toll. The road was going through eucalyptus plantations at some stage, and then, shortly before my planned point for a break – Tres Bocas, the junction where the road to Young took off, and where I knew there would be a petrol station, and after about 65km of cycling – I saw a parador on the right, and decided to stop (nicer than a petrol station). It was a nice place – I got a Mirinda (some lemon soft drink made in Uruguay), and then took out my staff for lunch – they didn't have anything vegetarian, but they brought me a plate and a fork. I had some boiled eggs, cheese and bread, and another Mirinda for lunch.

I didn't feel like siesta though, so after about 45 minutes I decided to set off again. They didn't have water at the parador, so I stopped after 1km at the petrol station to refill my water bottles, and then started my last 25km. The sugar of the Mirinda (and possibly also the break) had replenished my energy, so in spite of the heat it wasn't too hard. After 10km I reached the junction of Tres Quintas, the turning point for San Javier and Puerto Viejo (well signposted). A sign told me that it was another 14km... I knew that, but it was on a small and very quiet road.

 

I was glad when I reached San Javier, which seemed like dead in the middle of the day. I saw a sign pointing to Puerto Viejo, and followed that – another about 3-4km I hadn't bargained for, really. Nevertheless, it didn't feel as hard as the last 10km before my lunch break, and soon I reached Puerto Viejo, where there is a nice camping site, a parador, and not much else (besides a very nice Rio Uruguay). I put up my tent and then went for a quick swim in the river.

 

I spent the rest of the day on the camping site – resting, listening to music, washing some clothes (not many), having another coffee (again, I made that myself), resting more and then having dinner (cooked it myself too).

 

I decided to stay at Puerto Viejo for another day, as I felt that I can do with a day of rest, especially after the 90+ km of cycling. And this was a very quiet place, even though with little to do.

On the next day, I went to San Javier in the morning, to explore the village a little, and do some shopping. There wasn't much there in the village either, so I did my shopping and went back to Puerto Viejo before the worst heat started. I tried to deal with some emails using the erratic internet connection of my Argentinian mobile SIM card, with not much luck. So uploading this blog post will need to wait until Paysandú.

For the rest of the day I will probably take it easy, go for a swim in the river from time to time, and just have a quiet day...

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