February 17, 2009 GMT
Back to Argentina
Pictures somehow did not upload on the last entry, I have fixed that
Rode around a little and waited for the ferry. The fast ferry really was not much fun as you can not go up on top and see out, only look out the window. Took at least 30 min. to get the temporary import paper, of all the cars on the ferry I was the only one that needed this and I don't think they did it often and were unsure of how. When they got it typed up in the computer the printer was having problems printing. They tried three times and finally got a copy you can almost read, just hope It does not cause problems when I go out.
Sometimes it just can't get any better
Followed GPS, general directions only, for 20K to Dakar Moto and got there about 7:30. Even though the GPS is not as good as back home it is the only way I have been able to find my way across big cities.
Worked on moto, washed off red mud, brown mud and the grasshopper guts. When I built the boxes I built them too close to the swing arms, they would hit over a major bump. So with a hack saw I cut notches out, will try these and if it clears I can get it welded up agin. There are six of us at Dakar Motos, Australian couple, Swiss, German, Italian and myself. Simon the Italian is a good cook and made us all dinner last night, was superb
The moto with 15,000 K of dirt
Cleaning up my boxes and installing four flags
Simon cooked us all dinner and it was excellent.
That is today. Will prepare to leave, will bring back the camping equipment and several other thing that were not needed. My goal is to come next time with no more than 1/3 of what I had this time. Have learned how to get by with much less which will cut the weight and make more room for stuff picked up on the road (like food).
Bought some eggs and ham yesterday and had a real breakfast, the first in a long time.
Ken and Carol cooking a really good stew for dinner
Everyone at the dinner table
Dakar Motos shop
Bunks and kitchen at Dakar Motos, there were also three tents out back
The official end of this phase, Martha picking me up at PDX Portland, OR
Said goodby to all at Dakar Motos and took the 17.5 hr. ride home. I am now going through withdrawal, it has been a good six weeks. Been able to take a couple of things off the bucket list, but have added several. Current plan is to return in September with Martha for a two week ride and renew temporary import paper. Will then store till November and start the ride north, also considering coming the first of January and following the Dakar around, but that puts me into the hot and wet when I would go north.
Smoothest roads are in Chile (maybe the roughest too)
Pettiest women are in Argentina
Best farms in Brazil
Friendliest people are in Uruguay
Pack light, new rule set out all the stuff you think you must take, then you cut in half to fit in pack, then cut in half agin.
Prepare for all weather not just the cold, with the wrong gear hot can be miserable.
People are generally good and will help you out no mater what country your in.
Posted by Robert Thode at 10:24 PM
February 10, 2009 GMT
Left Melo and headed south to not sure where. The effects of the drought are becoming more evident the farther I go to the south, cattle are very thin. Many farmers are pasturing the road right-of-way, which are about 100 meters across. This requires that someone, often more than one, continually watch the cattle so they do not get hit by traffic, (this is a back road so traffic is light). I do not think that this is a normal activity but desperate attempt to keep cattle fed. One m/l 20 mile stretch was quite depressing as I saw at least two dozen dead cattle.
As I got closer to Montevideo things started to improve with fields showing some green. Montevideo is the capital city and quite large. Somewhere in traveling in to the city I got off the main track and wandered around the city for awhile till I found my way out and headed west. Checked three small towns looking for a hotel but found nothing I liked. So on I went till I say a sign for hotel, turned out to be a resort but I was tired and took the room. Was good to be pampered a bit. Had a steak for dinner ($15) and they put out a good breakfast, (still could use a couple of fried eggs, links and hash browns).
Slept in at the resort, eat breakfast and got on the road at about 10. Only going 100k today to Colonia where I will get a ferry across to Buenos Aires on Wednesday. Colonia is a neat little town, (20,000 population) that was founded by Portuguese from Brazil as a smuggling port to get British goods into Spanish territory. Still parts of the old wall and some parts of buildings from that era.
Part of what intrigues me about other countries is that they expect people to take care of them selves. In the US we try to protect the stupid. In the US if someone trips on the sidewalk they want to sue the homeowner. What this means is that here you can go see some really neat things that they would never let you get close to in the US. Here in Colonia I was able to go up to the top of a light house on winding, narrow stares. At the top I got to walk around out side with a clear view of the town. Lighthouse also looked down on the cities wastewater treatment plant, can I now deduct the trip expense and say I was studying WWTPs.
View from the top of the lighthouse
WWTP for town, I saw several of this type of plant. The units are pre-fab and then hauled to site.
part of the old city wall
Will stay in Colonia for three nights and it is really good not to have to pack up everything. Did go exploring to the west. Rode out to Conchillas which is a former British mining town. Several of the buildings were of British design. Being a company town the houses were all the same, but unusual in that there were long rows of connected houses. By the way I forgot my camera today so no pictures, just need to come back someday.
From Conchillas I rode out to Carmelo. It was a nice town but when I found the Museum it was not open.
On the way back I must have gone off track in one of the roundabouts as I ended up on Ruta 22 instead of 21. This led me to a town were I found a place to eat lunch, had grilled chicken and french fries. The owner of the was quite interested in the moto and where I had been. Also pointed me in the right direction to get back to Colonia.
When I got back to Colonia I went to buy my ticket on for the ferry ride over to BA on the 11th. Only available spot on the 11 or 12th was at 4:30 in the morning, and I would need to be there one hour earlier for customs stuff. This was on the slow (AKA cheap) ferry. Had her check the fast ferry and they could get me on the 5:30 (pm) run, so paid an extra $26 and will take fast ferry. The slow ferry takes 2.5 hours and fast ferry takes 30 minutes.
Being shown how he could cast a sproket
This is a moisture meter for grain, I thought this was a modern invention
Coke furnace for producing iron for castings
This was the neatest thing I have seen in a long time. One of the ways to produce electricity is by heat, the only application I had ever seen for this was temperature measurement. With only a gas lamp he could produce enough current to run the radio. Had been used in the country before power was available.
Model T Ford
Well the plan was to ride to Montevideo Harley dealership and get a "T" shirt today, but it was too hot and muggy for a two hour ride there then two hours back. So I picked up a flyer at Tourist Info that had a listing for a Museum out in the country of mechanical things. So more or less 20 k down the road, then down a gravel/dirt road for 4k to this old workshop. The owner had collected many things over the years and may not have been of interest to non mechanical types but I thought it was just great. He had everything there to make what ever he needed, could pour babit bearings and machine them. He had a cutting tool to turn down crankshafts and a thermal generator set up to run a radio (see picture). He showed me around and was I think surprised that I knew what much of it was for. The foundry had a coke furnace where he could take iron ore and produce iron for castings. I was the only one there so for at least an hour he showed me how everything worked.
Not riding into Montevideo may have been a good idea as we just had a thunder shower that dumped buckets and even though it has slowed down it is sill raining quit hard. I hope some of this rain is going inland to where they need it.
Posted by Robert Thode at 06:36 PM
February 06, 2009 GMT
Brazil & Uruguay 1
Crossed the boarder to Brazil this morning, which took about two hours. First checkout of Argentina where they checked out the bike numbers and even wrote down the info off the side of the engine. Then to Brazil where a very friendly guy who spoke English type in all the info for the temporary import document. Just as I am ready to pull out he sends someone out to tell me he made a mistake and had to re-enter data. That done I go down the street two blocks to National Police to get passport stamped in. There they told me I needed a visa. My information was that the only country that required visa's for USA was Pargay. Keep asking questions till he checked with someone in the back, he then took my passport and ten minutes latter came back, stamped and dated it. Away I go, well almost, found combio and changed US $ for Reals.
This side of the border has the same hill as the Argentina side but here it is commercial farming. Hills covered with soybean and corn fields with enough trees to make it look right. The scenery is spectacular, if you like looking at farms. The road winds up, down and around the hills, reminds me of New Zealand. The GPS is not of too much help and I wind up the night not where I thought I was going, but then I got to see some neat places.
Farm the morning I crossed into Brazil
Farm land in Brazil
Pine forest, why can't we get trees planted like that?
Head out this morning at 8:00 with the plan of riding to Santa Maria, Reo Grande do Sol, about 570 k. Well the road numbers on the GPS do not match the map and sometimes what is on the road signs is different than both. So I run in a big circle, about 150k. Finally break down and start asking and get headed the right way. I can blame it on the fog as it was real heavy this morning making it hard to see. Most of the Brazilian drivers do not turn their head lights on in the fog. Thankfully the traffic was light till it finally lifted. I reached Santa Maria at 6:00 with a good case of baboon butt.
Absolutely beautiful farm ground. Of all the farm ground I have seen in South America, (maybe everywhere), the area south of Passo Fundo and North of Santa Maria is where I would chose to farm. As I traveled south the hills got less steep to where the last 100 k the road no longer had to go around, just up and over. Looks like the area around Pullman, WA would look if it had enough rain to grow corn and soybeans without irrigation.
This was my view when I started out this morning. Soon I had dropped down into the very thick fog.
Soybean fields in Brazil, this is without irrigation.
Many of the fueling stations that catered to trucks had these oil pits that they pulled over to fuel up. Attendants would then grease what was needed.
Headed south this morning and the land continued to get flatter and dryer. Many more cattle ranches here. Also several large acreage of rice planted in low areas (AKA converted wetlands). Arrived at the border about 1:00, this crossing is not a major place to cross and it took some time to unravel where I needed to go to check the bike out. It seems that the person in charge of that had gone to lunch so I was told to come back at 14:00.
This gave me time to find a place to eat. I ordered a hamburger but it was more than I could finish.
Back to customs at 14:00 and was checked out. On to Uruguay, first to Migration for passport stamp. Filled out some papers on the moto here also with a typewriter. Then to customs where we filled out more paper this time by hand with carbon paper. I am sure the more used crossings are more up to date, but we got it done and by 3:00 I was back on the road.
Traveled on to Melo, getting here about 4:15. I could have gone farther but it was starting to get real hot. Was told that it has been much dryer here than normal, no rain for 4 months.
I rode into the central area to see what was available for hotels, as I road around the plaza I spotted a Weyerhaeuser sign and was going to take a picture. Three people walking by saw my license plate and came up to talk, they are from Oregon and have been traveling South America. So they took pictures for me.
Breakfast at the hotel, most places provide something but this was the best I have had for awhile. Lots of bread, some cheese and meat, coffee
Cattle ranch in southern Brazil
Cars being held at the Brazilian customs included this Model A Ford as well as some other old cars. Looked like it had been there a long time, I will make it a point not to get moto impounded. Car behind it may be '55 Chevy.
Rural cemetery in Uruguay
On the Plaza in Melo, Uruguay, Pickup behind is a Weyerhaeuser pickup. They have a office here. Have not seen too many trees, maybe to the south.
Posted by Robert Thode at 11:02 PM
February 03, 2009 GMT
Said good buy to Tom, Pat and Chris this morning and headed north out of BA. Tom & Pat wanted to work on finding shipping options for there motos back home.
Last night I worked till 10:00 to finish some fixes on the moto and pack up stuff. Have learned much about what to bring on a trip like this, the most valuable thing you can bring is empty space. So I will leave some stuff, mostly camping equipment, at Dakar till I return. In two weeks.
The road north is a fairly good road starting out as four lane then down to two. There is construction to make all of it four lane. But the trafic can be thick with many slow trucks and cars wanting to go 120k. Leaving space between you and the vehicle in front of you is a concept that has not reached here.
Spent the night in Concordia, a city big enough to have everything one would want but small enough I can find my way around. Got a room in a nice hotel for 80 pasos ($27), a third floor walk up. Went for a hike around town and saw a shop selling leather products with a guy working at a sewing machine, so I went back to room and got my tank bag which had ripped off a strap when I went down. Had been holding it together with a pull tie but did not want to put too much stress on that. The guy in the shop sewed it right up real well and then would not take anything for his work. I have found the people in Argentina to really good generous folks.
Went to a café and had a hamburger. The Argentine hamburgers are much better than the Chillan. In Chile they put so much mayo and "green guck" that it would squish out as you tried to eat it. Here it has much less goo, good bun, meat, tomato, lettuce, and a fired egg.
Went on line and bought a ticket home for the 15th.
This is "agroforestry" growing trees and crops at the same time. Have looked into this for our land but state regulations make it difficult.
Field of grain sorgum
Slept in till 8:00, then started putting pack back together, I had unpacked everything looking for a credit card. Reach conclusion that I left it in some stuff I left at Dakar Motos. It was a good day to ride as clouds kept the temperature down some for most of the day, but I was not feeling to well, (took some pepto and OK now), so only went about 400K. Made a couple of runs off the main road just to see what was there. Saw as sign that side Yapeyu 5 to the right, so off I go to have a look. That is where I am tonight as it was a neat little town with the main street in concrete but everything else in gravel, many with concrete curbs. There are some ruins from the Jesuit period 1600s into 1700. This is the kind of town where I could just hide for week and do almost nothing.
I walked down to the river that is over a mile across here. Real nice area to get down to the beach.
On the way up on Ruta 14 there were 7 check points, only had to stop and tell them where I was going once. I have no idea what they are looking for, maybe it is one of those make work projects. There were reports of police at K maker 341 stopping bikes and claiming they were speeding or did not have there lights on then demand that they pay them the fine. So I was ready to spend a couple of hours there till they got tired of me and let me go. The rule is never pay, do what you have to but don't pay police. It may just have been Sunday and they thought that stealing on Sunday was bad or the National Police may have got the bad apples out. So no fun in that regard, just have to wait for Lima.
Entry arch into town of Yapeyu
Church in Yapeyu
Central Park in Yapeyu, Horses were used to keep the grass mowed, have not seen any lawn mowers other than weed eater type.
The beach at Yapeyu, the river is very wide here. There are references in the park to the Navy which I think was based here.
Several ruins from the Jesuit period have been saved, including the governors house which is now enclosed in another building.
Waited till the banko was open in Yapeyu so I could exchange some money but they said they did not do that there. So went up to Santo Toma and found banko but they did not do exchanges ether and sent me down the block to a Cambio. Could not find it, so asked Casino which drew me a map. Even with that I had to try two places, no signs on the outside of building to indicate what is inside. They need marketing people. Got my pasos and on to the north.
Got up to Ruta 12, town of Capiovi where I filled up with gas. As I pulled out to get back on Ruta 12 I was waved over by two police. Seems I had made an illegal turn and I needed to pay them a fine. What little Spanish I have went away and they soon gave up and away I went. Only to be followed out of town be little police van. It finally passed me and waved me over this time (different set of police) said I had been speeding. Again no Spanish so one of them called a girl who spoke English and handed me the phone, she told me I had to pay them before I could leave. I told her that at the Border they said never pay police or I get in big trouble (not true but sounded good). Just kept saying "no pay police" and indicated that they should go ahead and write the ticket and I would pay at border, they do not want to actually write the ticket because then there is a record. One had removed his name tag (velcro) but the other had his, so I got out my note pad and pen. He now had to go to van then came back without name tag. Finally they gave up and let me go, was a lot of fun and better than dealing with the Washington State Patrol who no longer care what the law is and just want to shaft someone.
The Agriculture has continually changed as I have driven north from BA. The first day it was mostly cattle ranches with some crops such as sorghum, and corn. As I went north there started to be some eucalypts plantations mixed in, then some pine plantations. The farther north the more timber was planted. Went through an area with considerable rice production then an area where there were fields of tea. Have seen several roadside stand selling pineapple but not seen the fields. This whole area has tremendous agricultural capacity.
Splurged for a $28 hotel with pool for tonight as it has been real hot in the riding gear. I am in Eldoado which is 100k from the falls. Will go look at a big water fall tomorrow then cross into Brazil down to Uruguay and back to BA to fly home the 15th.
Cattle in what looked like intensive grazing rotation
Tea field, these were all very neat and trimmed
The Eldorado Hotel, life is rough
view from the hotel
There was thunder last night and I got up to wet roads but no rain. Looks like it rained hard over night. The only problem was that all the dirt roads connect to Ruta 12 so there is a lot of mud on the road. But no problemo, I ride on up to Iguazu Falls (map spells it Iguacu so not sure which is right)
My plan was to ride up view a neat waterfall, take a few pictures and be on my way. It would take two days to see all of the falls and walk the trails. Maybe I can come back some day. Took lots of pictures but there is no way to get it all, it is just enormous. Could tell that the flow is down but still a lot of water going over the edge. The trials and walk ways allow you to view from the top as well as the bottom. I stayed until 3:00 then headed south.
Part of the falls, Only way to get a picture of it all is from the air.
Falls looking toward the Brazilian side.
Falls from the top looking down.
Another picture of the falls.
Monkey up this tree
Raccoon like critter at the park.
I talked to a Brazilian at a fuel stop and he suggested I go in at a different crossing than I had planned. He said it was better road and I will not have to run the gauntlet of bad cops again.
At Eldorado I turned east on Ruta 17 for 120 k through some real pretty hills. The agriculture has turned mostly to subsistence farming with few cash crops such as tobacco. Also timber production in well organized plantations. Saw two sets of oxen being put away for the night. Many of the houses had no windows only shutters, must not get cold here.
Found a hotel in the boarder town of Bernardo de Irigoyen. It looked like I was going to get rained on as I got close but it must have seen me coming and quit for me. The water was flowing over the streets in many places and I rode through 8 inch deep spot. Did have a hard thunder shower as I eat pizza and drank beer. But was over by the time I finished eating, did not manage to finish the beer as they only had it in big (1000 cc) bottles, must be getting old.
Tomorrow I go in to Brazil.
Posted by Robert Thode at 12:42 AM