November 22, 2005 GMT
Villa General Belgrano area

Sunday 20th November

Mileage - 20kms

Well last night upped the weirdness levels. By the time we went out for a few bevvies for Bev it was dark and the sound of umpah (sp) was wafting around. Not so unusual these days, but the display of Lederhosen and swirling petticoats outside the town hall was a little unusual. The traditional dances were being reinacted to a responsive audience and they were getting a fair sweat on in the heat.

Since we've been here a while we've had more time to asses the place. though is definately weird the people are very friendly and all speak Spanish and are only really using German because they think we are German tourists I think. Unlike, I suspect, many of the British enclaves on the Costa's of spain were English would be the language of choice I guess. The - obviously German descended - locals all speak Spanish and are adapted to their new home, but yet retaining nearly all their original identity too. Quite a hard balance, but they may have got it right.

Anyway the dancing was good (OK, OK it was cheesy, but respect to them for keeping it alive). Three of the four couples, of all ages, were distinctly latin looking which was even weirder. It's a very strange place, but has a lot of good things about it.

There was also a collection of Model T Fords, probably 10 or so which I would have thought was a good turn out antwhere never mind here.

One of tthe good things is beer ! normally for Bev's birthday we'd be drinking good Yorkshire ales while camping out in the cold on the moor, with friends. Luckily there are some great beers available here, some local. I bought Bev some for her birthday, and we had one, a 'Floral' beer, was cracking, like one from a beer festival.

Anyway we had a bit of a - considerably restrained - pub crawl. Quite difiucult when you don't pay up front, delays progress. We had our most expensive beer, tourist price, bout 5 for a 3 large steins. Everything else has been very reasonable.

By time we'd had about 4 we were nearly home and ready for bed, it's getting quite warm again.

So today we had a rest day, again. Tried to fettle the intercom which has been playing up for a few days and is sorely missed, but without success. Have emailed Autocom to try and resolve, as we really need it.

Our host mentioned a good place to go swimming just near the next village and we took the bikes up there. As the sea is a considerable way away, well, lets say 700kms at very least, river banks are popular bathing haunts. We found the place easily and it was very popular. We found somewhere that only had a couple of people present and waded, very carefully ! to the otherbank for shade.

The water was wonderfully cooling without being freezing and we greatly enjoyed our lounging in and out of water. Had to be careful of sun, temps over 30 and little cloud cover. Not much in way of wildlife in river, but family of woodpeckers was a nice distraction near by.

Beers in town later proved that this community is very healthy and shows no sign of diminishing. Never seem so many rounded tums in me life. And no, we're not talking beer guts here, we're talking pregnant women. Sunday night is obviously proof of fertility night. Literally about every other women was pregnant. Good sign for community .I guess

Monday 21st November

Villa General Belgrano

Mileage - 0kms

Starting to get stir crazy one and all now. It's nice to chill, but we are all feeling ready to move on or be consumed by the madness of boredom.

Rang Claudia at Nikon to hear he had heard nothing and would ring them, could I call at 3. At 3 there was still nothing, left him hotel telephone number nd he said he'd ring tomorrow. I know I'm in part to blame, but I really think Nikon have a poor camera with no protection such as a mechanical shutter to prevent dust ingress. I know I can't expect - necessarily - urgent service, but I did expect they might have got back to me by now. We can't stay here for ever, and it will be very poor publicity for Nikon if we have to go withouit receiving my F70S body back. They appear unwilling to post it to me, we'll see. I'm hoping the manager from BA will return with it sorted on Friday otherwise I'm buggered from a picture perspective and willl be one unhappy bunny. After one month of ownership I'd expect more.

Anyway, we are all getting bored now. Internet drives Bev barmy though it fills Nik and my time, Bev gets the option of a film on TV, but none of them are things we want to be spending time doing. Obviously not adapted enough yet, in a few months a week of downtime might be welcome !

Tuesday 22nd November

Villa General Belgrano area, dirt road to San Agustin, south to Emblase and back here

Mileage - 110kms

To prevent insanity in th corp we decided a morning ride out was the cure. Just outside town a track lead over the hills to the East and looked well twisty.

So, day three of out Ripio for beginners course (Ripio being course gravel roads, and frequent in the south).

The road had a number, an S category mind which must be lowly and a three figure number so not exactly a main route. Within half a mile we came across a three hundred metre stright at about 1 in 6 or 1 in 8, steep enough when rocky and loose sand and a fine line to dance between the two.

Got half way up before Bev had to hop off and Nik came to rest in a rut. No damage and it actually looked parked, managed to get up the last bit each one up. Decided if another section like that we'd turn, though neither of us fancied riding back down it to be honest.

05-11-22-dirt road.jpg

Steeper than it looks in the photo honest!

Shortly after we met and Landrover, and further 4x car, so it is used (saves about 80kms of tarmac).

The hairpins after were less severe but it was still necessary to exhurt extreme caution. Some lovely smells...aside from spinning tyres and gearbox oil (a one off with my gearbox breather...I hope) and some nice Vultures, medium sized with white under wings, red heads and yellow beaks. Also the eponymous, wish I had a speel check on me Palm, brown small kite like bird with white stripes on wings and tails. Also some wonderful flowering prickly pear type cacti.


Prickly Pear


Prickly Pear

The heat was oppressive yesterday, and the last two nights. just a fan in the room, and you can feel sweat pooling on you in your sleep, lovely eh. Hence reason for ride before lunch. The wind on the other side was very strong and intense, temps climbing towards 40 again. Even with just lids, glovs, shirts and light trousers instead of full bike gear there was no respite from the heat. Even at 50 plus mph on the real road there was no cooling. Too hot.

So, one question, what on earth are we trial riding rough roads whilst also being concerned about our tyre wear and where we'll get replacements ? We're hopeful in Mendoza of a BMW dealer, though it my be cars. The concern is whether we'll getntubeless, and whether a reasonal 'cross' tyre is available. Our tyres of choice, TCK 80s, are not available here. Brazil manufacture some reasonable off road biased tyres, but it's finding them. Anyway, we have maximum of say 2000 miles left, or 500 legally in UK !

So, will Nikon come up trumps, or will things go from bad to worse ?

Posted by Simon McCarthy at November 22, 2005 10:38 PM GMT

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