West, to San Carlos de Bariloche
We were kindly invited to an asado on Sunday at the country weekender of Karl, a friend of Javier and Sandra, of Dakar Motos fame. As usual with Argentinian asados, there were huge amounts of meats of all kinds to be consumed. But we went for a walk around the area after lunch, to wear off the calories we'd eaten. It was interesting checking out all the plants and trees, with many large eucalypts with huge girths, which Karl said were 80 years old, along the avenue. Also, there were many pretty leaved, but vicious, thorn trees. I just had to take some photos, as people would never believe me if I said the thorns were a good 6" long, without having some proof. A delightful day in the country, cooler than in BsAs, too, with many thanks to Karl, his wife and children for sharing their day with us.
Monday. It was D-Day - Departure day. Javier had finished servicing the bike, and fixing a couple of little things. It was ready to roll.
With the bike all packed, ready to leave, the GPS decided to not work! Ted fiddled with a few things, and it suddenly worked again. I decided to leave while the going was good, so said my goodbyes to all those present, and hit the road, heading for Bariloche, about 1700km away to the south-west. But within 2km of DakarMotos, I'd missed an essential lane change by not being in the right place at the right time. I ended up doing laps of the area, trying to find my way onto the freeway I needed to be on. At one stage, I went up a oneway street the wrong way, and stopped beside the 2 nice policemen blocking my way, asked directions to the "aeropuerto", and managed to understand enough to get me back onto the correct freeway. I was on my way out of Buenos Aires, at last, at about 4.30pm.
Once on the freeway, it was easy to navigate, as it was the reverse of the way I'd come into BsAs a couple weeks before. Despite the heat, it was good to be back on the road again, and I headed south-southwest on Hwy 205, riding on into the cool of the evening, watching the wonderful cloud formations ahead of the thunderstorms building to the west, stopping to take some photos a few times. As dusk fell, about 9pm, I pulled into San Carlos de Bolivar and located a bank and a hotel. By the time I'd checked in, there was a large group surrounding the bike out front, all very curious about the bike, me and the trip, with the inevitable question" How old are you"? I don't know what it is about the Argentinians, but all the guys ask the question, usually before anything else! This group wanted to know if I was a TV reporter, of all things, then if the trip was being sponsored by BMW. I had a big laugh at this, and shook my head wildly. No, No, thank you!!
Heading out the next morning, it was pleasant riding through the prime agricultural and grazing areas, with the lush green fields heavily stocked with cattle, both dairy and beef , far more heavily stocked than is normal in Australia. There were many marshy areas, with huge numbers of water birds evident. I also saw a large group of rhea strutting along through the pastures. Riding this secondary highway was great, as there was little traffic, but it was a good road surface.
Heading further south, to Bahai Blanca, I rejoined Hwy 3 and headed west, eventually veering off onto Hwy 22 across the neverending pampas, enduring some stiff breezes at times, although some sections were calm and still, which was a nice change. At one time crossing the pampas, there was a huge thunderstorm hovering ahead of me, which made for wet roads for a long distance with just one heavy dumping on me. Further along the road, I nearly lost the bike, when it hit water several inches deep laying on the road, slewing sideways before I managed to find some solid ground to straighten it out. The roads here quite often have indented wheel tracks several inches below the bitumen/pavement road surface, and with the heavy rain, these became mini lakes, necessitating riding along on the narrow strips showing above the water. Not fun, especially when the water overflows the ruts, covering the whole road.
After about 800kms, I called it a day at Villa Regina, a nice little town, where I stayed in a Residencial, like a guesthouse. While looking for the guesthouse, I passed a shop selling traditional goods, so wandered in and made a purchase - a lovely alpaca shoulder blanket/shawl. The only problem with buying things is having to carry them, but it isn't all that big, so I'll manage.
It was hot, hot, hot, riding west to Bariloche the next day, with strong winds most of the time. Eventually, I saw a mountain, with snow scattered on the higher peaks. At last I was heading back to the cooler weather! While refuelling at Piedra de Aguila, two Chilean guys on a 1200Gs and a 650Gs pulled in, so we went for coffee and chatted, then rode together to the outskirts of Bariloche.
San Carlos de Bariloche is a typical tourist trap, full of expensive clothing shops, and myriads of chocolate shops, all inviegling passersby to enter by offering samples of their wares. I succumbed only once, but was very strong and didn't buy any chocolates! But the icecream parlours are another story altogether - they succeeded in parting my pesos from me! Yummy, yummy "Fruitilla de bosche" (fruit of the forest).
I stayed 2 nights in Bariloche, but was hankering for the mountains and the coolness. So I packed up and left this morning, heading out further west through Villa La Angostura, the last town in Argentina before the Chilean border, where I'm writing this. Not sure when I'll get to update the site again. Hang in there, peoples.