July 13, 2010 GMT
Argentina, Ruta 68

We headed out nice and early again the next day, but had only been going for a half hour or so before I heard an unusual sound coming from the bike. We pulled over and tried to find the noise, but after several attempts, we couldnít find its source. We got back on the road, and the sound returned. It seemed that it only happened after we reached 80km/h.
There was a definite humming coming from the front of the bike, that had not been there before, we had t make a decision. Should be ignore it, hope it goes away , and have it looked at when we next get to a Harley garage, or we could turn around now and take the bike back to Lucasís shop in Cordoba.
We decided to play it safe, and reluctantly we turned around and headed back to Cordoba for the second time.
It was only when we pulled up outside Lucas and I tried to show him where the noise was coming from that I noticed the cause of the new vibration.
We had left the bike outside the hostel, one of those rare occasions where we didnít have much of an option, and someone had reversed into the front fender, which was now rubbing against the front tire.
It would seem that our return trip had been un-necessary. Edgar came to see us at Lucasí shop, and insisted we stay the night, and then head off for Salta the next morning. We accepted their invitation and enjoyed one more night of beer, meat and Fernet with our mates before leaving for Salta.
We stopped to eat our sandwiches by the side of the road, next to a little stream, and enjoyed a little break in the sunshine.
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We headed off after our picnic, knowing we still had a long way to go.
As we approached Salta, we got back onto our old mate, Ruta 40, reminding us that the last time we were on this road, we were over 4,500kms South of our current position. We followed the road through a national park, up into a mountain range, and followed the road as it twisted upwards into the mountains. Then, of course, came the rain. We trudged through the down pour, climbing the mountain at a very slow pace, knowing full well that we were on a beautiful road, but not enjoying it due to the amount of concentration to keep the bike upright and the slippery, windy road.
As we reached the top of the mountain, we rode into the cloud and our already low visibility was lessened even more by the thick cloud that enveloped us.
We slowed again, and continued on , peering through the rain and cloud to try to make out the road in front of us.
We passed waterfalls, and knew that if not for the cloud, we would be enjoying stunning views of the valleys below us.
endof cloud68.jpg Rising above it all...finally rising above the cloud and rain in Argentina

After what seemed like eternity, we rode through the top of the cloud, and continued along the road with the cloud falling behind. It was a surreal sight, seeing the cloud gently roll along the flats on the top of the mountain.
The sky was blue again here, above the clouds, and we sped up and rode on towards Salta. Our joy soon disappeared when we hit our first section of washed out road. Jacquie got off the bike and I walked to the middle of the road just to see how deep the mud was. I rode over the mud and then motioned for Jacquie to cross on foot, but there was no clear path for her. Garth hadnít struggled to much in the mud, so we went back and picked her up, and then crossed the mud once more.
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We had a fair few of these washed out mud sections, and after that day, became fairly good at negotiating them.
We skipped back onto Ruta 68, and followed it the last few kilometres to Salta.
We had really been enjoying being back on the bike after a few days off, and only stayed one night in Salta before hitting Ruta 68, this time to follow it out of the city, and through the canyons, before taking the 16 to Corrientes. The 68 was one of the all time favourites of the trip. There had been many like it, the Pacific Coast Highway and the dirt road to the Roosevelt dam in the states, El Espina del Diablo and the road of 3,000 Curves in Mexico, the Pan American into El Salvador, the coffee region of Colombia, and more recently the coastal stretch of the Pan-Am through Peru and Chile and the altiplano of Bolivia.

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The 68 threaded its way through vineyards, across forests of Saguaro cacti, and passed rock formations, each named for what they might look like if you had been eating mushrooms or drinking heavily, with the notable exception of the frog, which did look remarkably like a frog. We stopped and clambered over some of the rocks, climbing to the top of the more scaleable rocks and taking photos of the views stretching out in front and behind us.
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We spent the morning, wistfully gliding through rock formations, occasionally crossing the odd flooded patch of road, across a Martian landscape that could have been the set for Planet of the Apes. It was spectacular. The weather was perfect, the road void of any other traffic, and Garth purring happily beneath us.
We spent the afternoon on a more typical Argentine road, long, straight and pretty dull.
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Turn in 496kms, a typical Argentinean road!

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The North of Argentina bore many similarities to its neighbor, Bolivia. Poverty was one of them..
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The clouds became thicker, and changed from a wispy, fluffy white variety, to the mean and angry looking black ones. We made to the outskirts of the city, and then the clouds burst, and within seconds we were soaked. We rode into the city, unprepared, with no idea where we should be heading, soaking wet, tired and now cold too. Not a good combination, but we held it together, just about, Both of us taking it in turns to bite our tongue unless we say something that was set it all off. This was the sort of time Jacquie and I would usually be going for each other. You should have found a hostel, You should have written down an address, these questions both used by each of us in turn, this time, we kept it locked down. We found a bookshop with wifi connection, and we took the computer out of the bike and went across the road to the bookshop.
We cracked open the door, apologised for dripping all over the floor, and asked if we could use the internet to look for a room.
The lady behind the counter seemed exceedingly please to receive us, even with the pools of water we were leaving dotted around her shop. She spoke good English, and engaged us with her gentle tone as she spoke. WE responded to her questions, where we had come from and where we are going, and she said her friend had just opened a new hostel in town, and that it was only a couple of block away.
We thanked her for her help, walked back to Garth and rode round the corner to the hostel.
It was a beautiful converted old town house. Again, we were welcomed in a warm fashion by the receptionist, and shown around the hostel. We met the young owners, and chatted about the town and what the plans were for the hostel.
We found a car park for the bike after several abortive attempts to ride him up the stair into the hostel, and went up to our dorm to get into some dry clothes. We went out for Pizza and returned to the hostel to sit in our dorm and watch a movie on the computer.
We decided we would have the morning walking around Corrientes, and would then ride to Iguazu in the afternoon. We walked along the riverfront, styled in the same way as Venice Beach and Central Park, with a running track and a cycle track running alongside the sidewalk.

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We strolled in the heat along the river, passing a handful of beautiful, immaculate classic cars, until we came to the zoo .We entered and quickly walked through the zoo, enjoying the show from the randy turtles who all seemed to be getting it on, or rather getting on it, everywhere we looked, turtles were mounting their mates in a proud display of virility. We stopped and waited for the croc to yawn, and then after a quick peek at the aviary, we were off to get Garth and be on our way.
It was hot still, but the breeze as we rode afforded us pretty perfect riding conditions. We rode along the straight, flat road, 500kms before we encounter our next corner! At least with the sun beaming down on us; the tarmac smooth beneath us, and the vast expanses of lush green scenery around us, the ride was still enjoyable. We stopped to eat at a roadside eatery that was no more than a collection of wooden poles holding a black canvas-which in turn looked like it had recently been used to advertise some political party or other-to cover an BBQ, on which several pans steamed away. There was a house a few hundred feet behind the BBQ shack, and between the bbq and the house were a couple of wooden tables surrounded by plastic chairs.
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We parked and walked towards the bbq, the smell was mesmerizing. As we approached, the kids who had been playing outside the house came running over to us, and pulled us towards the wooden table. The oldest of the bunch, a beautiful girl of no more than 12 informed us of what was available, and asked what we like to drink. We ordered fish and salad and a couple of gaseosas and played with the kids while we waited. The food was brought over and we tucked in, it was delicious. We had missed this kind of eating, in southern Argentina the closest we came to street food were the hot dog vans, this was more like being back in central America, or Mexico, eating really tasty, possibly organic food that was way cheaper and tastier than we would be able to find in a restaurant or eatery in town.
Refreshed, and with full bellies, we asked for our bill, we paid the girl and all the kids followed us back to the bike. I took it in turns hoisting the kids onto the bike, and then we were off again, on the straight road to Iguazu.
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The kids from the roadside BBQ Shack.The blond kid's nickname was "Gringo"!!


The heat of the day intensified as we rode eastwards towards the falls. I was really tired, having ridden every day since we left Cordoba four, or was it five days ago, and now it was all catching up with me. I had to pull over, so when I came to a lay by next to a river, I rode into it and got off the bike.
Right there, no more than 3 feet from where I had parked Garth, was a huge, bloated alligator, or maybe it was a croc, whatever it was, thankfully for us, it was dead.
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A large swarm of flies buzzed around its body, and there were deep gashes along its back. We pondered the unluckiness of such an occurrence on the M25, ate some sweets and chocolate, and clambered back onto the bike.
We changed the plan, and decided to stop short of Iguazu, and head instead for Posadas, giving us one extra day of riding in Argentina. We stopped one more time on the outskirts of Posadas to remove a dead bird that had flown into my shin and come to its final resting place wedged in between my engine. I pulled to the side of the road to poke the dead bird out with a stick and to rub my throbbing leg.
The hostel in Posadas was almost empty, and we enjoyed having the run of the place. We didnít get up to much, a quick walk to the local supermarket for some pasta and sauce, and then back to the hostel to cook. We ate in front of the TV, and got ourselves an early night.
Our last dayís ride in Argentina was a short one, so we started the day as we had in Corrientes, with a walk along the river, and a quick look at the town, before heading off for Iguazu.

Posted by Dan Shell at July 13, 2010 04:21 PM GMT
 


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