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South America » Argentina » Neuquén » Junín de los Andes
January 23rd 2006
Published: January 23rd 2006
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40,000 kms40,000 kms40,000 kms

and still going strong...I should hope so!
Another perfect day!….Bariloche breakfast and then off under another Simpson’s sky, little fluffy clouds on azure background...sweet!....snowcaps on ragged mountains all around, perfecto asphalto, nice curvery, off towards San Martin de los Andes. Winding thru’ the mountains, in fact fanging thru’ the mountains, getting some of the dust off the bike…. close-up, wildflowers, behind, pine trees up as far as they can go, then rock and more rock right up to the snowline and the sky.
Then the road plunges down, sweeping along another huge, dark greeny blue lake, this looks deep and cold, a few white caps whipped up by the wind, refreshing for me as its getting hot in the sun.
Camp sites and campers in little pockets along the lake, its like the middle of nowhere but we often come across bunches of campers or just individuals…you can just pull up anywhere, its all so perfect. Lots of student backpackers, hitching, hiking, bussing, trucking they’re everywhere, and bicyclists, even on the ripio there are bicyclists, and that’s pretty risky.
And there are trout in the lakes and rivers, all the restaurants around Patagonia have trout on the me-and-you, and deer and wild boar and other delicacies!...
I never
Bike in another postcardBike in another postcardBike in another postcard

Road to San Martin
realised that this is such a camping oriented country...facilities everywhere and a good cheap alternative to hotels...could even buy a tent if I was to stop here for a while...Grant?..a good option I reckon!

And yesterday, in the arvo, the rally started in Bariloche...fantastico!!…about 30 bikes and a dozen cars (that’s a liberal description!, most are backyarders and apparently they spend the nights welding, hammering and repairing...amazing!) and a 2 vehicle Toyota, real McCoy Dakar turbo diesel unit, plus support....these guys are going to have to win by a long way to save face!!....they all gathered in the square and then had a ceremonial send off thru’ the big bannered gateway in the plaza.
This is a serious-shit rally, some sections are regarded as being as bad as Dakar, (by people who have done the Dakar!)..8 days, across some pretty inhospitable country. After they left I saw Gato the TV guy from yesterday, he told me to follow their truck as there was a time trial first leg, just out of town.
I followed them out and got to get inside the fence, as it were, while Gato and his crew filmed bits and pieces of the rally…tres cool….its
Main Street - BarilocheMain Street - BarilocheMain Street - Bariloche

How cool is this place!
a dry and dusty circuit, lots of dust and lots of fun for the riders and drivers…and the watchers…..but really hot, I copped some sunburn..what happened to the tan I worked so hard on in Isla Margarita?

So back to now….into San Martin, chockers with touristas and a tres tourista town, not far from the Chilean frontera so lotsa Chileanos taking advantage of the cheap everything’s, (like it's 2 or 3 times more exy for everything in Chile!) …I find the RipCurl shop but its shut? so buy some chocolate and Gatorade ready for the next haul to….? Like Bariloche this is chocolate city, every second shop is selling chocolate, every first shop has a huge range of the crappest tourista junk, crikey, given the creativity and style in everything else argentino its astounding how much crapola there is!
Sitting on a chocolate shop verandah, watching the world go by, 4 middle-aged touries, north americanos, have just rented 4 mountain bikes, dressed in 50 thousand dollar bike outfits, 2 with cameras and one with an industrial strength video, slung around stress withered necks, they narrowly avoid death-by-traffic and wobble off down the road to record everything they see, so
Side Street - BarilocheSide Street - BarilocheSide Street - Bariloche

How cool is this place..still
that one day, back at home, they might get around to seeing what was actually there!!
There’s a continual need to record everything, but you know, at the end of it all, you’ll either be boring a few captive friends for the first few weeks back, and they’ll all politely nod and mumble, then everything is carefully archived, backed up, stored in impenetrable, off site, off shore safety vaults, sent into orbit on a Saturn 5, copies etched in diamonds in micro font, grafittied onto railway carriages, whatever you reckon will last!.... but….. never looked at again!!
Hey, but what the .....…more ripio??…oh, only 60 or 70 kms, it wasn’’t too bad, the main drama was the bloody traffic!..busy as Burke street....maybe because it's Sunday, school holidays and just over the Chilean frontier with perfect lakes and mountains, not surprising everyone wants to be here…but on the ripio a bloody nightmare, narrow corners and crossings…and the dust! with a thousand other vehicles....Say no more.
I pulled over and stopped by a perfect little camp site under big trees by a swift flowing little river, a perfect, pristine campsite, a chica came over and asked me for a kiss, well that’s
Rally Start LineRally Start LineRally Start Line

Bariloche Plaza
what I thought, actually she was asking if I had some epoxy resin, (you know, a simple mistake of translation) the family car was over by the river, her husband was pulling the radiator out, the bottom pipe had come slightly adrift, the braze was splitting, and losing water. I apologised for lack of epoxy but told them to get the kids chewing gum and some duck tape and drive slowly with the radiator cap off?..well, it used to work for me on the old A40!
So for some reason here I am in the lobby of a tres shmicko hotel, paying way too much but crikey it’s a noice change…Rafael and Carolina have taken a matrimonial and I have the single “special” in this place, out in the mountains, a little town, I’ll think of the name soon, everything else is full…again…so we have to go the lash and stay at the big house, not THAT big house….the local attraction is endless trekking…wish some one would hurry up and invent the chairlift…and a giant, snow capped volcano!!..ahh it's Junin de los Andes...(had to ask Belem)
It’s such a roller coaster, this accomodation thing, one night it'll be the ‘crowded
Rally Line-upRally Line-upRally Line-up

Bariloche Plaza
house’’, 3 of us in a tiny room, nylon towels, bring your own soap, open the windows and 50 million flies burst in, shower is on the wall of the tiny bano, …and then tonight, lap of luxo, the flaming hand towel is the size of a normal towel, the real towel is the size of a sheet, and soo fluffy and soft, and there’s soap and shampoo and conditioner and a bath mat, and room to move!….and the lobby, where I’m currently ensconced, Belem, the receptionist chica runs off to get me another beer and some more peanuts, out the window a mega panorama…even a flipping golf course!..aaaah..I’m sorely tempted but cerveza wins this round….and the need to get this all up to date.
And no word from David on the boat so looks like no Antarctica this week…I hope something will come thru’ eventually!
And, although there’s no WiFi, there’s a computer over in the corner and I can dump all of this directo or via the stick…hang in there!
If its quick enough and I can persevere, you’ll get pix.
Manaña off to Chile maybe?
PS...only took 90 mins to get the pix up!!...hope you enjoy them!



Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


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Rally Line UpRally Line Up
Rally Line Up

Bariloche Plaza
Gato on the jobGato on the job
Gato on the job

Tme trial first stage of Rally
Gato on the job 2Gato on the job 2
Gato on the job 2

Time trial Bariloche
BackyarderBackyarder
Backyarder

Bariloche Plaza
Team ToyotaTeam Toyota
Team Toyota

Start of Rally


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