Salta to Purmamarca, Friday, 1 March 2013, Day 241

Salinas Grandes!

So I thought the last two days on the bike were good well believe it or not it just got better!

I had my free breakfast, which was dry bread, and coffee if I wanted butter and Jam it would be extra! Funny the posher a place the crapper the breakfast!

Remember my bravado of yesterday claiming that I was going to hit the dirt of Ruta 40 well bollocks to that I am not feeling that brave so I will stick to the tarmac route to Salinas Grande the Salt flats.  First 80km a nice run through the mountains funny thing is that this is a main road but I have seen wider cycle paths in Holland than this road its skinny as hell mainly single track but they have painted a line in the middle! So fortunately not much traffic as it was very twisty and lots of blind corners with no where to go if you met someone coming the other way so slow going but the scenery is lovely again.

Skinny roads and blind bends make for cautious riding

 

I hit San Salvador de Jujuy and its already 1pm ish and it still another 200km to the salt flats and I was planning on staying in Jujuy tonight and doing a round trip to the flats but looking at the time it may not be feasible but hey lets give it a whirl anyhow.I have some lunch and hit the road and its even nicer than this morning beautiful winding road through the mountains good tarmac and the proper width now a bit rough in place so you still had to keep your wits about you as it would turn into dirt for very small parts in the blink of an eye normally half way round a blind corner. Every corner also seemed to have a scattering of loose stones and rocks that could cause problems if hit at the wrong speed and angle of lean.

Loverly twisty roads bikers heaven but treat with caution!

      

But it was not the road that was the star today but the scenery it was gob-smackingly lovely and this went on for miles. I climbed to 4000 plus meters so I am definitely back in the mountains and a bit short of breath maybe it is due to altitude or was it the gorgeous vista’s after vista that I was seeing?

My favourite light brown Llamas where back as well

Just love these guys beautiful brown colour smile every time I see one 🙂

  

After reaching the top of the pass a downhill run onto the Salt flats. On the way down there was a stranded biker on the side of the road and he was waving at me so I pull over. A local guy  and he says he is out of fuel and can I help him no problem as I have spare fuel with me the strange thing is that he wants it in a jerry can not directly into his tank which I find strange and suspicious so before I give him some I ask him why and he says the fuel in his tank is not clean and there is something wrong with his carburettor so I ask him to show me and see if I can help him fix it but strangely enough he does not seem to have the keys for the tank and keeps insisting I put the fuel in the jerry can. So I am already suspicious as to how a local comes to be out of fuel in the middle of nowhere and his reluctance of my assistance of help and him unable to explain where he had to get to and how he was going to get there so I got pissed of with the guy and I started getting angry and in the end refused to give him any of my fuel as I suspected this was some kind of scam so I put away my spare jerry can and I hit the road frustrated and angry unsure if I was right or was it a language thing and I had just deserted some poor chap in the middle of nowhere. And my good vibe had been totally buzzed bugger. 10 minutes down the road is another stranded local biker waving me down so I pull over and ask him want the problem is well guess what he is out of fuel and have I any spare? He pulls out a petrol tube/line ready for syphoning so he has got the kit only problem is that he is not getting nothing from me as I am pretty sure now that it is a scam and I tell him about matey boy down the road doing exactly the same scam who is a bit more elaborate in his act than this chap and wave bye to this fellow  and he is not getting any petrol from me. I do hope I am right or I have just deserted not just one fellow biker but two fellow stranded bikers in the space of 15 minutes so I may have angered the biker gods of whom I am a big believer in and they have looked after me rather well this trip but what are the odds of two local running out of fuel on there local turf in the space 10 minutes yup definitely a scam me thinks those guys probably do this everyday or not!

Salinas Grandes

  

So my good buzz vibe slightly ruined by these events as I roll onto the flats and I am in for another one of nature’s treats. Stunning definitely worth the trip I hang around for a while sucking up the scenery and then its calculation time. Do I have enough fuel to get me back to Jujuy or do I need to go an additional 60km in the wrong direction towards Chile, which will give me enough to get back to Jujuy. Well I am having a great ride so far and I have the energy for some more so opt for the additional km and I can hole up there for the night or somewhere closer than Jujuy if I run out of light (time)

So cross the plains up the mountains at the other side and the weather had turned the wind was getting up and was threatening to rain (motorcycle gods?) I missed the rain and  I found some petrol in the middle of nowhere and then checked out the village to see if there was anywhere to stay, as there was tourist info place at the side of the road. Yep 3 places to stay in Susques but as I drove around this dusty village it did not really seem that appealing and I had some energy left so I decided lets do the salt flats again and the high mountain pass and stop at the first village on the other side which is only about 140km away so I headed back to the salt plains. Funny thing about energy it can disappear within seconds and as I headed into the mountains I suddenly felt tired as I had being going hard all day my friend the wind decided he would come back and haunt me and I drove into a dust storm on the salt flats. Great decision Philly I stopped on the salt flats and it was a total contrast to a couple of hours ago then the sun was shining the salt glorious white and great refection’s in the still clear water, now it was dull and overcast so it looked like dirty snow so not at all as charming as earlier. Oh well couple of chocolate biscuits for energy and then over the mountain pass, and as it was dull and cloudy I focused not on the scenery this time but on the road as I scratched my way back to the nearest village on the other side enjoying myself immensely. No sign of the two stranded bikers so least I know they got moving somehow and I pulled into Purmamarca at about 7pm and I found a cheap little hostel after trying a couple of other places and it was just of the main square. It was a weird setup a house with 2 rooms with some beds a kitchen bathroom and a sitting room and only me and a Dog there as after I paid some guy he disappeared and left the place to me. I never saw him again.

Home for the night!

Went for a walk and some dinner and back to my own little place for an evening of trying to get this up to date just for a change.

It has been a glorious 3 days however tomorrow the long boring straight-line drag of over 1000km to Asuncion but at this moment time I think my trip up here to North Argentina was definately worth it however after a couple of days of tedious roads I may have changed my view so watch this space.

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