March 04, 2003 GMT
Part 1 - Blown off course.

Written by Ed Tarleton.....

it´s early march and matt and i have been back on the road here in argentina for about a week and a half. we flew into buenes aires on feb 13, eager to be reunited with our bikes that we had sent down from colorado to resume our south american adventure. the first few days were spent wading thru the usual sea of beaurocratic sewege that goes along with importing foreign vehicles into latin american countries. all of our old friends that we made down here two years ago were more than a little surprised to see us reappear. the next several days was a whirlwind of last minute motorcycle preparations and partying with our argentinian amigos. a week after our arrival, we finally rolled out of buenes aires accompanied by two fellow motorcyclist friends for a quick trip to the nearby coastal town of pina mar, the host that weekend of the annual summer national enduro championships. the first day was spent on the beach soaking up some rays and swimming in the frigid waters of the south atlantic. sunday was race day. it is incredible how many motorcycle enthusiasts there are in argentina, as the entire 5 mile circuit was lined deep with spectators. monday, the journey began in earnest. we decided to take a trip out to the western side of the country to see a bit of the andes again and to visit the highest mountain in the americas, Aconcagua (23,000 ft.) needless to say, it was a pretty awesome sight. the first two days of riding were two huge days that involved about 900 miles of some of the flattest, hottest landscapes imaginable. by the third day, we made it into the desert canyons of valle grande and canyon nihuile. the next day, we made it to mendoza, a very clean city of a few million people and luckily a nice cycle shop and a lively street scene. from there, we took an incrediby beautiful dirt road that wound up thru the steep desert mountains toward our eventual destination at the base of aconcagua. we spent that night at a converted railway depot that now plays host to the myriad climbers who come from all corners of the globe to summit the massive peak. a day later, and it was time to head north towards san juan. this turned out to be the most scenic day of riding thus far. the first half of the day we were again traversing the high desert and salt flats accompanied by spectacular views of the 20,000 foot peaks off to the west. after stopping for lunch in the little oasis town of barreal, it was time for one of the most incredible stretches of ¨road¨ that i´ve ever seen, routa 12 into san juan. in the midst of this narrow, winding goat path of a road, there is a stretch that reportedly contains 1320 curves within only 60 miles. whew......, i believe it. after catching some sleep in san juan and a brief morning of moto- maintanance, we rode on toward our present location, the historic colonial city of cordoba. along the way we took a real nice 60 mile dirt road ¨shortcut¨ that wound its way thru some beautiful, tight little canyons and old argentinian ranch lands. throughout it all, all the people we´ve encountered have shown us nothing but extreme kindness and overwhelming generosity. every day we find ourselves shaking our heads in amazement at how nice everybody is. i had my subframe reinforced yesterday with some thick steel bar that involved quite a bit of cutting, bending, and welding. when all was said and done, the guy who did it was offended when i asked him how much he wanted me to pay him. ¨nada, un regalo de argentina¨. in the end we were able to convince him to join us for a nice dinner at a local parilla ( restaurants that grill numerous varieties of meat, much like an indoor BBQ, but much better). in a few hours, we will continue making our way toward the famous iguazu falls on the argentinian/ brazilian border, where we will be joining up with our good friend flavio, the owner of the cycle shop in buenes aires who helped me out so much last time. until next time....,

tu amigo eduardo, viajando en moto otra vez en sud america.

Posted by Matt Stackpole at 04:35 PM GMT
March 10, 2003 GMT
Rain or Beer Anyone?

As we departed the historical city of Cordaba, Argentina.....a city of many wonderful, cathedrals and monestary's, we set off into the pourig rain. As with many other rain storms, they often end..this one did not. As we commensed the cool wet riding got only worse....or better, since one week prior we were riding thru such intense heat that we were praying for cooler temperatures and hoped that it might rain on us....well our hopes came pouring down on us!! A long day.....the rain kept on...many surprises this day as well as many important items got drenched. Having purchased waterprrof tank panniers I thought my items would be protected form the pouring rain.... Improtant items completely water logged and soaked to the core!! now the only thing that 100% for sure about these bags is that I am 100% ticked!! .....oh well life goes on....

...We arived to a NAtional Park on the Uruguay river called Parque nacional Palmar. Quite pristine and secluded in character. This Park has forests full of ancient palm trees, varieties of birds, a small beach on the river, and is home to semi aquatic rodentsof up to 130lbs.....snakes, and many toads!! The River was refreshing for a swim, and the forests nice for walking and stretching our cycle stiffened....ridden knees!
Our next coupe days were wonderful, as we arived into the northern province of Argentina..Miciones!!We attendeda motorcycle gathering/festival and weregreated with many wonderful people extending allthey couod for us...lots of beerand wine, Smiles and wonder!! We were awarded t-shirts for being the two riders being from the furthest origin and the entire experience wll be one of many good memories!! As we caravanned around the city, other riders looked upon us with lots of curiosity, multiple times upon multiple times, we were asked to ride some wheeliesfor the the wheelies commensed aruond the center of the city and the thru the crowded streets full of motos, as many spectators watched on!........many addresses were exchanged and bottles of beer as well, as the this mix of Argetinian, Brazillian, and Paraguyan riders certainly liked sharing their beer........The First moto encuentro of many to come!! Vamos a Ver!!
More tales to come as we now sit acrossform the Brazillian border ready to visit Iguasu Falls and head for the coastal Mountians of Soutern Brasil!!

Posted by Matt Stackpole at 07:50 PM GMT
March 20, 2003 GMT

Be it form the monestaries in Cordoba or the Falls at Iguazu, the life we are now discovering is full of enchantment!
Going back a few weeks ago, we were in the wondeful historic city of Cordoba, Argentina......being a most typical tourist, camera in hand, wandering & looking about with confusion for where to go next...we stumbled upon yet another Cathedral of a historic period. However this one quite different! The sounds that echoed within, and the mystic sensation chilled me to the core, & like a time capsule I was tranferred to another time. Immediately upon entry the church keeper informed Ed & I not to speak as there was a vigil in process! I was asked to remove my visor and this man was smiles just matter of fact! As we entered further into the halls of this cathedral, I noticed the Aspe(?) was gated off and behind the gates were many nuns in uniform, praying and chanting....their sounds came over the loudspeaker, and like a poem, in sinct with one another, their odd inflection of vocal tones was enchanting to say the least! At the center of this group of nuns was what looked to be an aged figure without motion, without tone, but her prescence was perhaps the most powerful as she took the center `throne`. The voices were sounding out latin proverbs and prayers.........`Santa Maria....madre de dios, @#¨@!!¨` the voices were of younger pristine energetic voices, and others of aged utilized and tired sounds...... Not able to make out the language entirely, I was compelled to take a seat and just soak it nerves tingled and I did not know whether to laugh or become stone frozen from the wonder of it all! Above was the high dome of the center of the Cathedral! Huge it was....pearl and rose in color....wanting to capture this in photo or in video, I did not, as this would have been the worst of sins to all the captivated people within the pews! A scense of seriousness and serenity filled the air! Wow!! Wandering onward I left this world of heavenly enchantment behind.....& I was off to discover Enchantments of a mother of other gods......`Mother Nature`!!
This a day of mournig......
......& to all concerned people of the world!........
Love and peace to all....................
From Paraty Brasil........March 20, 2003!

Posted by Matt Stackpole at 02:37 PM GMT
March 30, 2003 GMT
Night lights.......

As the day had been long and hot, windy riding thru the dessert sun. The high central plains of Argentina, had beaten us down throughout the day. We had left San Juan at mid day after having done a necessary oil change. (over 4,000 km´s on same oil) The evening light was drawing near and we still had over 150 km´s between us & Cordoba. The desert highway had been long and straight. Boring is one description, but many other imaginable words grind at my mind as we had been directed by the locals to take this specific route. We were told it would be the more interesting and fun route to take, one more suitable for our dirt yearning cycles. Well I find it hard to believe, as we found ourselves circulating to the north beyond what seemed to be a nice range of dessert hills. What seemed to be the proper ingredients for some nice twisty, dirt, and adrenaline triggering roads. Well as the mountains fell out of site, our currrent route continued straight and with every approaching mile my body and mind grew more tired. As our last option to ride some dirt came, we chose a new direction to continue onward to Cordoba. We abandoned the asphalt pista and took to new textures. The road we were now discovering was sandy, rocky, rutted, it lead thru the meandering hills north west of Cordoba. The road, was what I had yearned for all day.....only one problem, the sun was setting and night was drawing upon us quicker than we would like. The stock headlight on my 2000 xr600 puts out a `whopping` 35 watts......not much to help....... was Ed´s failing Baja light kit, that was providing less light than a poorly maintained zippo lighter. The raod was narrow, the frogs were plentiful, the desolation surrounded us, and the darkness engulfed us. The next issue was our gasoline shortage that added much excitement, as ed swtiched to reserve at the first kilometer of the dirt. With over 80 kilometers to go to the next bit of services, our minds were now focused.......perpetuated by fear. The road however, provided us with too much exitement. The ruts, the surprise curves that jumped out at us, the birds that found excitement out of flying directly at out headlights & our helmets, many of which I was dodging as though they wanted to be hit. The road forked several times, and we had no idea which options to choose. With a subtle difference in the compaction density of the earth, we chose the route that seemed more traveled. Not too far ahead we came commensed to riding thru a boggy river bottom, muddy, and luckily we had a couple of tire trackes to help guide us thru. The birds continued to aim for my head, the frogs jumping, as I tried to swirve and save lives, especially mine.! The mountians seemed to continue, and as we feared for running out of gas, the previous yearning to be revelling in the dirt tracks now grew into dissent. to add to the interest, my left pannier hanger decided to give way as I rode thru a deep drainage ditch and forced it beyond its capacity.....(given that this hanger was put thru over 20,000 miles of abuse only 18 months prior) Nevertheless, This proved to be an exciting evening, it seemed as thought the cameras were rolling, our producers were toying with us and the viewers were watching w/pleasure. Luckily the 5gal. tanks we are using have deep reserves, ,and we were able to coast out of the mountian slopes with buring fumes........all is well that ends well! This is what we look forward to....bring it on SA!!

Posted by Matt Stackpole at 12:15 AM GMT

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