Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Farewell Argentina - for Now.

Welcome back - sorry its been a while since the last one, but not much happened for ages, then it got very busy, so I should be able to catch you up pretty quick smart. I´ll try not to procrastinate too much, but you know me, once I get the creative juices flowing, its hard to hold it all in.

When last we spoke, I had just fallen hard down a rocky track, digging a hole in my knee cap. That´s much better now, thank you for asking, but it was a number of days before it became comfortable to ride, I just had to suck it up and take an extra toughen-up pill. Still, the photo was in glorious technicolour, so you got an idea.
We stayed an extra day at Capilla on account of my ow-ie, then set off across the long flat, gusty roads to the Corrientes region. Not much to report other than long, dull, hot (30°C+) days wishing the damn lorries would go away, and a night spent sleeping at the side of the road outside a police station, as our attempts to find somewhere to stay in Rafaela were met with enormous bills. In the end we mistakenly stopped at a place, unpacked, showered, went to reception to settle up in advance, and were told a price twice what we thought, (which was twice what we´d normally hope to pay, but were making an exception). In the end, we coughed up 50 pesos for a shower and moved on. To give you some idea, we´d normally hope to pay 50 for both of us for a night. I also got bee-stung for the first time on a bike, on my collar bone, due to riding with my coat half unzipped to let some air flow in. Bee-stung is kind of like snake-bit in a western, but with less cutting of the wound and sucking out the poison. Still, catches you by surprise a bit and hurts like a bastard! Had to stop and pull out the stinger obviously
Still, next day was short and to Paraná, to regroup and move on, again long and dreary roads but to Parque Naçional El Palmar. We didn´t get the most out of the area in my opinion, but did have a nice horse trek in the evening and an entertaining night chatting to a group of school kids from Buenos Aires.
From there we went north to Yapeyú and got our first glimpse of Uruguay, and from where the sunrise photos were taken. It was after this that things started getting interesting again.
I was keen to visit a unique wetland area called Esteros del Iberá, and our map showed 3 routes to get there. The first was a long back track followed by an earth road, the second was a more direct route but more earth than asphalt, and the 3rd was to head on up the road and then back track. We took option 2, and at about 1130, with the end in sight and a relaxing afternoon awaiting us (and about 5 minutes abfter getting bee-stung again - on teh throat this time!), we met some gauchos who told us the road no longer existed up ahead, and we´d have to go back. So back we went, along the very reasonable earth road, hit the tarmac and went for option 3. Wasn´t much further, the earth roads so far had been fine, it should be no trouble. True enough for the first hour, then it all turned to custard. Or more accurately, to sand, as the road degenerated to mostly quite deep sand, and things slowed right down. By 1800, with about an hour and a bit of daylight left, having been on the road for 9 hours, I fell off again (and once again it was at slow speed - its actually impossible for me to get any speed up on these nasty surfaces). After that, the sun started to set, and the road alternated between sand and puddles and good hard mud. Unfortunately in the failing light, it was very hard to tell one from t´other until it was too late, so a couple of extra spills later, I was down to walking pace with a broken windscreen (I put my foot through it as I stepped clear of the falling bike), riding in my snow style, with feet out as out-riggers, and the sun gone for good. We had about an hour in full dark after that, eventually finding Colonia Carlos Pelligrini and collapsing in heap.
Next day was good for me, as I had a morning out on the big laguna and saw all kinds of SA fauna and birdlife, right up my ally, but sadly I only got spanish names for them all. This is not helpful, as my poor brain struggles to hold the useful conversational words in its grasp, so has no room at all for bird names that can´t be used for anything else. Still, hopefully some video will make its way on to the site soon-ish, and you can see for yourselves. Rich took the time to clean his bike and grease it up, so time well spent for us both, I think.
Next day was back to civilisation, with a patched up screen that lasted all of half an hour until I went down again, and it broke in a different place than my mend, which was satisfying from that perspective if none other. Rude words were said, obviously, as the remains of the screen were biffed in to the roadside and on we went, eventually making it to Posadas, where I was able to buy a new window and feel happy again. Posadas was a lovely town on the edge of the Misiones region, and we had a pleasant couple of days there, just recovering from the heavy going of the previous couple.
From here it was to be straight to Foz de Iguaçu, stopping on the way to make for shorter days, but after having a night camping in San Pedro, we decided to head back a bit and visit Saltos Del Moconá, a little visited waterfall a bit south of where we were. This took us down a proper dirt road, just like I´d imagined before arriving, and because it was dry, it was a great road to ride. If it hadn´t been for a 2nd puncture, caused by the first patch coming off, it would have been a perfect day. As it was, the ride was great and we found a lovely wee camp site 2km up the road from the falls, which we decided to visit in the morning on account of it taking 2 hours to walk out into the river and back - a whole 1km or so into the river, in fact. These falls are pretty much unique, as they run in line with the river for 3km rather than across the current, due to a land shift along what is now the Argy-Brasil border.
Unfortunately, the early morning brought the threat of rain, so we hurried out to the falls at 7am, making it back by 9 and packing to leave by 10. Just as the rain started. And unfortunately for us, even the merest hint of damp on the mud of the road turns it into a perfect slick, so needless to say it was only 10 minutes in before muggins hit the deck again, this time as I was picking my way carefully and slowly up a steep, rocky hill. One wrong move and a wet rock saw me undone, and I managed to break the other side box (oh, did I not mention I broke the mounting clip on one of them already, in the sand? Well I did.). That was the only off of the day though, mostly because I slowed down even more after that. The rain kept going though, and the 30°C we´d had not 2 days before was now a bitter and wet 8°C, but we picked a road out that was being improved, so it wasn´t long before we hit the tarmac and picked up speed. Good in one respect, cold in another. We stopped in San Vicente in a great little hotel that was far cheaper than the con-artist in Rafaela and far better too, dried off a bit and got set to go to Iguaçu the next day.
Which is what we did, arriving about 3pm, too late for the falls that day, but nice and early to relax with a beer and unwind a bit. Next day (7th Sept by now) we did the falls visit which was outstanding. Almost as amazing was the fact that Rich came along, as he tries to avoid tourist attractions like the plague, but even he was impressed, for about 3 hours, then had to leave before he went mad. I stayed on and went on a tour into the jungle and had an interesting couple of hours at the end of the day learning a bit about the forest, and saw a toucan, which made my day!
So now, at 1755 on 8th September 2008, I am in Brazil, about to start for Rio De Janeiro in the morning, and beginning to feel the strain in my shoulders from battling the cold and covering about 4800km in 4 weeks. Hopefully the tropical climate we´re heading to, and a well earned break in Rio, will sort that out.
With Brazil being Portugese speaking, language will begin to be interesting, but I´m not worried. You see, Hablo bueno español. Lo apprendo desde un libro. Thank you Manuel, and good night.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wowee it's all coming along nicely isn't it? Plus you've obviously figured out what to do about shipping your bike back at the end - don't bother coz you won't have any bike left!! Here's to the next installment! big hugs J &D x