Strange day the original plan was to go to go a place called Catamarca and I would be there for about 4pm ish as it was only 400km away. The hills of yesterday where short lived and I was back on the straight flat pampas roads and it was like that most of the way so not much to write home about.
Nice Place to stop to fettle with my chain again which is wearing out mucho rapido!
About 200km into the trip I stopped for some fuel but there was none available as they where topping up the tanks and they will be ready in 45 minutes but there was another station 5km down the road. Whilst all this was happening a Brazilian biker came over for chat about the road and he was adamant that Catamarca was not that interesting and the roads in and out were terrible he invited me in to the café at the petrol station to chat to his two mates who held the same views as he did as well as another local who had joined the dialog and for a while it was as if I did not exist as these 4 guys planned a new itinerary for me and all this in Spanish so even if I was involved in the dialog I could not understand half of what was being said. So they had decided amongst themselves that I was not to go to Catamarca but my new destination was to be Tucuman, which was 400 plus km away. I politely disengaged myself from the discussion and went back to Daisy and on to the other fuel station thanking my new friends for all the info. So a seed had been planted about the roads in and out of Catamarca being bad however not much else around in the direction I was going so Tucuman seemed a reasonable option but I did not fancy another big city and I was looking for small town hence my original choice of Catamarca. The turn of for Catamarca is not for another 100km so I have plenty time to come up with a new plan. The road is flat and boring and scenery wise the only bit of interest was a salt flat where I stopped for a while and mucked around there for a bit before resuming my route North.
Catamarca would mean getting into the mountains sooner however the sound of those 4 guys ringing in my ears I set my GPS not to Tucuman but to a place called Tafi del Valle which I loved the sound of it was 50km further than Tucuman but was a small village in the mountains so that was it decision made it is going to be a long day in the saddle but hopefully it will be worth it.
It was dull and boring until the last 50km when I finally turned into the mountains after been teased by them for while and by this time I was knackered as I already being going hard for hours so a thin difficult mountain road came at the wrong time as I was tired and I was making mistakes silly bugger always pushing to hard when its not really necessary but I was committed to my new plan so I made my way slowly up the mountain enjoying the change of scenery and trying to keep Daisy on the black stuff blind corner after corner up to 2000 meters and I finally made it to the outskirts of town and it was just starting to get dark and then today had one final challenge to throw at me a little diversion as the bridge was out and then there was a small matter of a river crossing. So I pulled up to see how deep it was as it looked pretty deep and when a car went through confirmed my suspicions this is quite a deep river crossing I had been riding for 10+ hours I was knackered and fate has thrown me another hoop for me to jump through bugger not looking forward to this. Then a small motorcycle came through from the other side as well as some blokes on horseback and they both stuck to the far side of the road where it seemed the water was a lot shallower so I had a plan and was across the other side in no time using this route making sure I had enough momentum as I did not fancy getting bogged down in the middle of the river (stream)
It took me a while to find the hostel I was looking for after riding around town for a while seemingly it had just moved down by the river crossing so had already driven passed it. Excellent little hostel and the price included dinner that evening so I scored there, as I had no energy to go into the village. I was that tired that I dropped Daisy whilst unpacking her. I had parked her badly so she was pretty vertical on the side stand and when I took the side pannier over she went. Of course I tried to catch her as she went down but she is a pretty big girl and there was no way I could hold her up as I felt my muscles go ping ping one by one so I just let her go.
Home for the night
I did not have the strength or energy to pick her up myself so called for help from a Canadian chap who was inside so the two of us got Daisy vertical again and parked her properly. Time to chill out as I am totally gaga dinner with a Canadian New Zealand couple, two Danish lads, an Argentinian lad and lass, and the ladies from the hostel and I cannot remember a single name god I am crap with names its embarrassing. Gnocchi, which was excellent and before I knew it was another late night after chatting to the folks very pleasant but time for bed for this tired little bear. I am staying another day here as I knocked out enough miles today to deserve a rest day.
Great view shame about the clouds!
Great night sleep which is not surprising after the tough day I had yesterday, as we are at 2000 meters it’s a lot cooler which makes me sleep a lot better. So I have decided to spend another day here just relaxing so first a leisurely breakfast home made bread so very nice coffee in a teabag format which was a first for me but why not seems to work and then a bit of a fettle with my panniers as they got a bit bent out of shape yesterday when I dropped Daisy so the locks needed adjusted. I am also a bit concerned with the chain as its stretching very fast but I guess that because its not an O ring type so I am going to have to keep an eye on this and may need another one soon bugger!
It’s a bit dull and overcast so I go for a walk through the village which is nice and then go to the tourist office and ask about the road to Cafayate then through to Salta as I have had heard that it is all ripio (dirt) but according to the chap there he tells me it is tarmac all the way so that is the next couple of days routes sorted. Talking of routes Philly has screwed up again with his lack of research and not looking at maps closely I was going to go to Bolivia to see the salt flats but I have decided against this as I do not fancy the hassle of Bolivia difficult to get petrol and roads not to good so I am heading for some Salt Flats in Northern Argentina called Salinas Grandes as a substitute. Then I was going to head into the top left hand side Argentina and cross the border into Paraguay and do a nice run through the middle of Paraguay to Asuncion. Well after looking into the details I find there are a no border crossing up there. Well there are but they are unlikely to have Aduana for my bike and unlikely to have facilities or immigration for Foreigners like me as it’s for local Argentinean and Paraguayan folks only and I have heard it’s a notorious drug running route and the roads are all dirt tracks so the first large commercial crossing is way down South near Asuncion so it looks like I have a long straight ride ahead of me of about 800km due to this miscalculation I do hope what I am seeing during the next couple of days makes up for this and the trip up here is worthwhile 🙂
I digress back to Tafi del Valle I ask the chap about short walks in the area and he pointed me to a 40 minute walk up a hill to a cross that had some nice views so that is the plan for today I went to a local market stall and brought some fresh out of the oven empanadas and something to drink and I headed up the hill.
Cross on top of hill todays plan.
Its quite cool as there are a lot of clouds but it is a pleasant enough walk and yes the views where very nice so I sat on top of the hill with my Kindle and my picnic very relaxing I was joined by 3 beautiful condors flying around above me where they after my chocolate biscuits?
No you cannot have one of my chocolate biscuits!
Eventually I headed back to the village to the local petrol station café that had Wi-Fi and I spent some time there doing the usual uploading and updating of things phillysbigtrip related and I am still trying to figure out when and how to get home.
Back to the hostel I sat outside reading for a while then dinner, which this time was a lentil stew, which was gorgeous, I may just stay another night just for the food. Another pleasant evening chatting and relaxing and this is probably one of the most relaxing rest days I have has as I have a habit of doing absolutely loads on my rest days well not today this is just what the doctor ordered.
Daisy’s well guarded tonight
So a short day planned today to Cafayate, which is about 120km away the sun, is out and it is clear as bell so it is absolutely stunning compared with yesterday. Good relaxing breakfast slowly packed Daisy and hit then road stopping every 5 minutes to take photographs as it was a beautiful ride so maybe not such a bad idea to come up here after all.
Road from Tafi to Cafayate nice
I got to Cafayate in a couple of hours it was hot so I needed to get out of my bike gear ASAP and I found a nice little hostel of the main square next to a posh hotels who’s car park I could use for Daisy. Off exploring the town which is also very small and compact I head to the tourist info place for a map and ask if there are any walks yes there was up a hill to a shrine so that is the plan so I keep walking up hills to these religious spots its like I am doing some kind of pilgrimage or it is just that the religious folks have nicked all the good spots for crosses and shrines. A lot harder walk this time as its 30 degrees plus and no clouds cover so hot and sweaty but I make it.
View from the hill.
It is in private ground but I am told I am allowed to go in but when I try to get out the gate has been locked save for a small gap which tubby here could not fit through. Oh bugger no one around and I am locked behind this huge fence with sharp objects on top so climbing over not really an option, as I am not as limber as I used to be. I finally get the attention of someone and I am free. I head back to town and see a gym with some guys playing a game similar to squash but the court the size of a basketball court and four guys playing at the same time in teams of two. I sat and watched this for a while still could not figure out the rules but very entertaining it would be interesting to know what it was that they where playing and then back to the hostel.
What they Playing?
I went out again for some dinner and some more exploring and I saw some lions! Seemingly the circus is in town and they still use live animals here and they where driving them around the square on the back of an articulated lorry not very HSE compliant in my view!
I had a pizza from a takeaway joint that had seats on the street then I crossed to the other side of the street for an ice-cream so a very pleasant meal. Back at the hostel there was a BBQ Argentinean style with a huge amount of meat and I was asked if I would like to join them for dinner. I was already stuffed but it would be rude not to so another feed of big chunks of meat and sausages lekker! No one spoke English so another evening with my limited Spanish but very enjoyable another late night.
Peel me a grape!
Love old wrecks!