Today I realised that we had effectively been riding through a desert for the past 2 months. Very little water, bone dry river beds, intense, burning sun and heat, absurdly hot winds. Our thinking each day has been characterised by 'we'll need water for two days and maybe another half a day as well, so if we fill....'
That is what it has been like for so long I had taken it to be the norm. So what prompted the change?
Today we cycled into Rivendell.....yes, Rivendell, and the contrast could not have made the past months any clearer.
We rode from the unlikeable town of Las Lajas up towards the Hachado pass.
Suddenly there we were in the mountains, and we could see real plants, monkey-puzzle trees, beds of soft, green grass, and water, flowing water....it was everywhere, flowing, bubbling streams, gurgling and chuckling over rocky beds, water as clear as glass. It was actually quite emotional, and I found myself a little delirious with the sheer pleasure of it all.
Turning off onto a dirt road towards Alumine, we stopped by a small fast-flowing stream - with my feet dangling in the very cold water - had our lunch, a cuppa and a snooze; woke up and agreed we should just stay where we were. So we did, finding a secret, grassy glade to set our tent, and while-a-way the afternoon.
It may not have looked exactly like Rivendell, it didn't have any waterfalls and I have not seen an Elf, Gandolph or Bilbo Baggins; but it was just as magical.