In charge of tonight's dinner!! fox a La BBQ
We all made it to Salta with a sleep over in Santa Maria.
This is how Howard saw it......
Thursday 14th March.Woke with a start at 7-18am
as it was so late and we were supposed to be going by 8.00am for the longest ride of the tour of over 530 kms, hard miles too and over the Andes.Down to breakfast then to the bike at 7-50 and off by 8-10. Not bad I reckon.Out on the highway and quite cold. The coldest so far for a start. We were warned, and I had all the liners in.Not too far in on the ride and the mist came down. Very hard to see. This was 40 minutes of hard riding until the sun burnt it off. The hardest riding I reckon because you just couldn´t see anything. Imagine it hosing down in the car, the wipers not working, no heater or air conditioning to de mist it. Everything a grey colour.When the mist lifted though it was beautiful weather, with clear skies. I was taking things easy at 110 kms only, as the bike doctors Barry and Scratch told me to. Not too sure about the mend in the motor, but
they were pretty confident.
To the Chilean border which was very cold. I was starting to be affected by the altitude. Eating snacks and drinks to feel better. Out of there and still at altitude for ages. To Lago Verde beside the lovely lake where we gathered for lunch. The wind was blowing strongly, so we were sheltering in the lee of the seldom used Police base there. I was quite bad by then with the altitude. Considering even that at that stage it was something like 4000 m, or 4 kms up in the sky from sea level. Terry, who is a pilot or was, said that anything over 3000 m you´re supposed to have oxygen in a plane!I was a bit headachey, and also just tired and couldn´t be bothered. Jack was really bad and looked it too.I took off first because I had to do something. Get it over with or something. The riding was really brilliant though, with lovely landscape and the mountains, the clear skies, although it was a bit windy.Coming down the mountain in to the Argentine side there were alot of zig zagging and each time went to the right there was a
Frightening small children and the odd adult!!
blast of wind pushing me about. I did this 10-12 times at least. A magic surface and had to control the bike in the sharp corners with the wind blast.
I got to the Argentine border and I was still not good. I waited for the Immigration there for a couple and daughter to be processed. There was no-one at the Customs desk with 3 chairs before it. So I lay down there to feel a bit better. The customs guy came in civvies and told me to get up. I don´t think he was impressed me lying down there on his seats. The Police young guys were good. Then I was directed to the customs guy again who was still sour, but had got into his uniform.He filled out the form for the importation of the motorcycle from the registration papers, and got me to sign it. I then checked the numbers which were wrong. Rosco and Gerardo were quite specific to ensure that the numbers are right, otherwise sometimes there is a problem and hold up when you try to get out and the numbers are wrong. So I told him it was wrong. He got pissed
off. He said,¨No problemo.¨ I protested and he got more pissed off. I told Gerardo who had arrived by that time, and then Rosco, and I was going to wait until the rest of the guys were processed so there was no problem for them, and the customs guy saw that, and told me to leave. So I had to take off.
It was beautiful coming through all the different rock formations.. After coming down from the altitude which went on for a couple of hours I reckon, I came in to a small town called Fiambala, with Rodrigo, Radar and Terry about 20 kms from Tinogasta where we were going to stop for the night, and they refuelled. I didn´t want to as I wanted to use the whole tank and see what the range was. I got along 10 kms from the small town, and ran out of the main tank at 495 kms. Not bad as the first crossing of the Andes we had been using an extra 100kms worth of fuel at the altitude. So I think I might be able to get 600 kms normally out of the tank.I put it on reserve expecting about
At the Cultural Museum
30 kms further, and it was about that to Tinogusta but only got to 516 when it cut out altogether. The others kept on going. Then Gerardo came just as I had finished filling up from the extra tank I had on the side and I followed him into town and refuelled. I must have at least a 25 litre main tank.We stayed in an adobe type motel with a mezzanine floor where I slept. Tinogusta is a very alive place.We all went out to a restaurant on the Central Plaza for a nice meal with Rodrigo´s suggestion of a chicken meal lovely.The Police had a checkpoint right outside the restaurant on the plaza and checking all the vehicles.Then to bed. Hard day´s ride and a good sleep after 530 kms up and over the Andes, with 11 hours on the go. I heard it got down to 6.4 degrees and a maximum of about 22. Friday 15-3Had a good sleep and awake at 7.30 with the weather spitting so eveyrone put their wets on. It was pretty cold too. Out to Londres and a nice little village, then a turn off to Belen, where there was a Police checkpoint.
Gerardo was leading and they motioned for him to stop, and then saw all the other bikes behind so waved us all through.From there it was a long straight 40-50 kms long it seemed. Then a small bend and another 30 kms straight. Horses, cattle, burros, sheep, goats all seen. Also large crows feeding on a fox on the road and had to go slow......Out of Belen and across wet fords 1 ft deep and dirt and ripio (gravel) for 10 kms or so. Not too startling until we got into Santa Maria and the hotel, which was a large building with large grounds, with red tiled floors and long corridors painted in white.Out to the pool for a few too many beers, then down to a restauant to share a pizza with Rodrigo. Again it was on the central plaza. Each town and village, has one and that´s the centre of the community with everyone meeting and eating in the restaurnats and bars. Today was quite cold, the coldest since we´ve been here of 12-15 degrees all day.Also today or was it yesterday? was confirmation of the new Pope being Argentinian, so of course there was extensive coverage of
Saturday 16-3.Alot of noise during the night. We started to notice the amount of motorbikes since we´d passed into Argentina again from Paso San Francisco and Tinogusta.Overnight there was continual sounds of motorbikes and scooters zooming up and down, as well as el Peros (dogs) having a good old fight. However I still managed to be rested by the morning.A bit of drama though when we first got up. Heard the sirens and some commotion outside. Opposite the hotel is an apartment block. They brought someone out of it. Gerardo found out that a man was asleep on the second floor apartment alone when someone slit his throat and he died! The Police blocked the road, but we were allowed to go the other way down the street to get out.A bit close to where we were, that´s for sure.A bit glad to get out of there.
Not too far along was a Museum for Pachomama, (Mother earth) which is the big god that was worshipped in the parts pre Inca and the Spaniards. What a great complex that is, with lovely stonework for the buildings as well as the courtyards and areas signifying different things that a
Barry and Straymondo
guide told Gerardo, who translated for us.Going into the buildings to see the people´s way of life, I got the shivers down my spine. Spooky that.Good representations and illustrations of how life was like for the local peoples, and how they lived and ate etc. Well worth visiting. Rosco and Gerardo give suggestions on whether we should go anywhere and they´re spot on.From there it was a quite relaxed ride through several small villages and then stopped at Cafayate at the central plaza for a bit of morning tea. Now this was a place to visit, with all the vineyards reminding me of Gisborne actually. Nice plaza and quite sophisticated out there alfresco eating and drinking the cafe.Off again and through brilliant gorges with red rocks. Stopped at the Devil´s Throat, which is a place where the water cascaded down the hill and gouged out a semi-circular ampitheatre. At the first of two we went to there was a local playing the ukelele and pan flute which echoed back from the formation beautifully.At the second which wasn´t quite so dramatic I thought, a lady saw the Kiwi on Ray´s bike and asked if we were Kiwis? She was from Auckland.
Radar and Barry
In the Devils Throat!!
Small world.Further on to a place we stopped for lunch which was very nice. I had a ham and egg white sandwich with tomato.Some of us are running low on Argentine funds, which is a bit of a pain as you can´t get much out of the money machine and can´t book stuff up on the Mastercard. The infrastructure isn´t the best apparently.The other worry is that the tyre that I put on the back isn´t wearing very well at all.(Howard chose not to fit the Continental TKC 80's that we recommended -Rosco) It was supposed to do 10k for 6 weeks, and only done 3500k and two weeks so will have to get another one. Gerardo said not to worry as we can get one Monday morning before we leave.We got into Salta and it´s a pretty busy place with the hotel a fine, stately old one. Really nice service so far. Don´t know what the plan is for dinner, but we´ll find something to chew on.Cheers, Howard.
A bit from Rosco....
Howard was right, we did find plenty of food here in Salta. We have had a great rest day, even though we woke to drizzly
rain, funny that, we never have had rain here before, but then again we have never had Radar here before either??? We all jumped into Taxis and went to a huge shopping Mall, as some of the guys needed some things. Some of them even went to the Movies!! It seems that they think they are Holiday!!
I have lend Radar my HJC helmet, as when Scratch leaned himself and his BMW over on top of Radars poor little KLR, way back a few days ago, he broke the visor on Radars helmet.
Tomorrow we leave Salta and head North to Pumamaca, then up to La Quiaca and into Bolivia and onto Tupiza, where Butch Casidy and the Sundance Kid made their last stand.
So untill then, Hasta Pronto, from Rosco.
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