So just wanting to get out of BA I did a short day to Rosario and to visit another friend I had met in Ecuador. Rosario is a nice relaxing town on the river. It was time to rest, recover and catch up on some things. Like laundry, photos and blog a little. I rented a studio flat on Air B and B because I needed a break from hostel life. Nati showed me around town and informed me it was the ice cream capital of Argentina. Ok I am all in on this! I had also read somewhere that Argentina has some of the best ice cream in the world. So best country for ice cream with the best city. Hmm two and two together! Also the river was really high because of all the rain in Brazil. It was causing some damage to the waterfront around Rosario. The south of Brazil has just been getting hammered by rain. Thanks Nati for a nice stay in Rosario. It is known for not being the most exciting city but that was perfect for me. Many locals even asked why I was there. It was funny.
Me eating popcorn
I only took a few pics of Rosario because I spent most of my time cleaning gear, dealing with laptop issues and getting photos sorted. I was happy just to have some down time and get refreshed for some big days ahead. A quick look at the Dakar route and I decided my next stop would be Belen, a two days ride.
After leaving Rosario it got hot hot hot. Especially north of Cordoba. There are salt flats in Argentina, who new!?! And they are crazy hot!!
Having a little fun
Right after screwing around on the salt flats the bike stalled. Then again later that time and again after that. 4-5 times in just that afternoon. It was cause for concern but being low on gas and in the middle of nowhere with 100+ degree heat I had bigger fish to fry.
I made it to gas by doing 45 mph for almost 2 hours to conserve on fuel. Since I had to drive so slow for so long it was 30 min or so before dark and I was exhausted after a 700km day in the heat. I wish I had a little more energy because a really nice family invited me to their house to stay and for dinner. Just super sweet people, but they were 100km away and I just didn’t have it in me or want to ride at night.
So camping next to the gas station it is with no rain fly on the tent. Why no rain fly? Because it dropped to a chilly 92 or so during the night. So not much sleep for me just a lot of laying completely stationary sweating. Not a bad camp site though for right next to a gas station.
After the gas station campsite it was some more hot sweaty kilometers to try and see the Dakar actually in action. The goal was Belen but along the road I kept seeing racers and support vehicles coming at me. Soon I was at a checkpoint and got the skinny on the day. Race day canceled due to extreme heat!! They were having them just run the road to put down some miles. What a bunch of sissies!! I was still riding in this heat!! Day two of over 100 degrees for the entire day.
Here is some of the not so exhilarating action
Once I got into Belen it was a total shit show. To many people for the small town to handle. After waiting for gas I found a campsite to camp in. It was full but I asked some other riders if I could just throw my tent up in their spot. They said no problem and that wasn’t really their spot because they guy would be around to charge me eventually.
This is when I met Martins of Latvia, Per of Sweden and Antti of Finland. Martins on a KTM 990 adventure and the other two guys on Harley Road Kings. Yup, these guys have a few screws riding around South America on these big old beasts.
Here are the guys, better pics to come.
After hanging out for a bit and talking they kept mentioning some high pass they were going over the next day. San Franciso pass to be exact. I looked at my day planner and saw my day was pretty wide open so I asked if I could join. Also seeing part or following the Dakar as some people put it, was really more of a pain in the ass to me and just kind of a scene. Don’t get me wrong it was cool to see because I was near it but I had no desire to follow it around and spend the day trying to see things happen.
After a light dinner with y new friends the decision was made for a 7am start the next day.
We were all ready to roll at 7 am and hit the road. The morning was spent passing Dakar support vehicles. The we realized at one point if we went 20km in another direction we could see some actual action. I was happy about this because so far I had see all the cool vehicles sitting in a parking lot in BA and then casually crusing along the road because of a canceled day. A slight delay in our planned huge kilometer day would be ok, right?
Here is where we got to see them race. It was cool to see the action but after a couple of hours of waiting and watching we all decided it was time to go.
This Dakar doctor was really diggin the Harelys. They get more attention then my Alaska license plate.
Then we stopped to top off our fuel and have lunch. By the time we had done all this our early start turned into 130 in the afternoon.
I made it clear early that if I felt like we were trying to push to do something unreasonable I would turn back and stay in the town. Every agreed that we all had to make the right decision for ourselves. I was pretty sure I was going to turn back and just take a run at it the next day because we still had over 500km to go in just an afternoon. Also rain was threatening so a cold high rainy pass late in the day was not sounding like my idea of fun.
Then I started to see things like this.
One thing I have not mentioned is that my good camera broke somewhere between BA and Rosario. So all these pics are iphone. Would have been nice to have a better camera but not matter the quality of the photos; I was there and it was awesome.
Its getting chilly. They sky cleared and we just kept getting amazing views.
After checking out of Argentina we got some high altitude high price gas. But in all honesty the price was reasonable for the location.
After topping off is when things started to get interesting. Oh and after a tourist processing at customs told us our route was impossible! He said maybe on dual sport motos but no way on Harleys! Gave us all a little cause for concern but what are we supposed to do? Turn back? Nooooo!!!
Shortly after gas things started to get very interesting but even more beautiful!!!
The road looks much better in pictures than it is.
I cant remember how long it took us, maybe 3 hours for sure from one customs office to another. They are over 100km apart, I think 150 and the road is sketchy. I was having fun but always felt like I could go down at any second. It varied from loose soft gravel to deeper loose soft gravel. Cant imagine these condtions on a road king!! We are close to customs here
Construction worker took these pics for me
After some hard cold and exhausting miles at high elevation we did make it to the customs office about 6PM. Now we had a choice to make. With over 200km left and told the road only got worse. It was clear that if we decided to push on tonight we would be camping at elevation and it would be cold. Antti was having a little trouble with the elevation and thought we needed t move on in hopes of getting lower. Then a little miracle happened! One of the customs officers, the point of entry in Chile told me they had two dorm rooms!! What?! How much? He looked at me funny and said free!! Decision made! We will be staying in the customs building tonight! Home sweet home for the night!
Happy to be inside and know we have beds
For some reason the day before I bought another bag of pasta even though I didn’t really need it. Plenty to feed 3 of us. Annti couldn’t eat.
We got a man down!
This where they normally inspect luggage and that is an xray machine behind me. I pretty much was running customs after 8 PM haha
Me talking to a local the next day about the road conditions
Antti was really having a tough time through the entire night. He was not holing down water and coulnd’t bring himself to eat. His body was not happy with the elevation at all. I think we were all a little light headed and very low on energy. We all fell asleep very fast but it wasn’t the most restful nights sleep after a hard hard day.
Tomorrow will be a very interesting day to say the least. Will Annti be able to ride out? Do I stay and work for the Chilean border?
This so funny and so true!