Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 167 (536km): A delightful surprise

Conveniently the campground was pretty much on Ruta 40 so it was easy to get back on track in the morning. Hitting the road and enjoying the beautiful blue sky. I didn't see a single cloud all day! Oh and the wind throughout the day could be described as normal. Thank goodness. I think I was going to have a nervous breakdown if the wind continued to be that crazy day after day.
Indeed we are following 40
As we approached the town of Las Lajas there was a police checkpoint. Not one of those permanent ones you see before entering a touristy town, a temporary one with cones. Once I see the cones I slow down, and then I notice it's for police. The one standing in the road motions for us to pull over. It was the most emphatic attempt to pull someone over in the history of pulling motorcyclists over. I almost burst out laughing.

We haven't heard any horror stories about corrupt cops in Argentina (except the famous Ruta 14) so we had nothing to worry about. Two cops come over, one to me and one to Alberto. What bugs me a little bit is that whenever police pull us over they walk right past me and go to Alberto behind me. Stupid Latin American sexism. Anyways the first guy goes to Alberto and the second guy begrudgingly comes over to me. He asks the usual questions, where did you come from? Where are you going? He asked for my license which I hand over. Not the real one of course, just a copy. He and the officer talking to Alberto (who has his license and TVIP) walk over to their car and confer for over 10min. They also may have written some things down. I ask Alberto, since he was talking to his guy in Spanish, if he mentioned what the deal was; Alberto didn't know. So after a while they come back, give us our documents and we are on our way. I still have no idea why they pulled us over, but it was a sunny day and I was in a good mood. Under other circumstances I would demand to know what the deal is. People, even if they are police, shouldn't just pull you over take all your stuff and not tell you why.
Taking a break from the nothingness
Back on the road we keep following Ruta 40 north. We've gone back into a dry climate so it's pretty boring. There was some cool rock formations here and there, and at times the road was twisty. Why hello temperature gauge. I haven't seen you at 25 degrees for quite some time.
Really cool rock formations
A cactus!
We got some gas in Chos Malal which was a bit of a job to find. I like that Argentina has signs on the road telling you there is gas in a town. Finding said gas can sometimes be less obvious though. When we hit the Mendoza state border the road quality deteriorated. And when we hit the dirt my chain fell off. I had commented to Alberto last night that it was loose and that it probably needed tightening. But one thing leads to another and you put these things off. Well no more putting it off now. He had to tighten it now.
Sad chain; sad tire
The road was dirt and there was a bunch of mining related traffic. I ate so much dust! I dislike riding washboard with such a heavy bike, and not to mention that my back tire can only be described as a dry pavement tire at this point. The dirt lasted a while and then turned back into pavement. The dirt section finished without incident, though there was a scary moment when a deep sand trap appeared from nowhere.
I got a lot of dust in my face!
But now the pavement is still just as exciting. We came around a corner and we found a heard of goats and sheep coming our way. Glad they weren't in the actual corner. I think things would have turned out a lot worse. Why don't people who are herding animals have a person in the lead to warn drivers? It is a road after all.... with cars.
Don't mind the livestock taking over the road
When we had originally looked at the map in the morning we had thought that Bardas Blancas looked to be a good destination. We also thought we'd be able to get gas there. No gas, and not a nice looking place to stay. We continued to the next town on the map, Malargue, which was shown as the same size but had an airport. Alberto pretty much pulled into the gas station on fumes but we made it. And holy cow, this place is NICE! We went to the tourism office which was REALLY nice. We got information on the camping and restaurants.
Camping, in the mud
We set up at the camping, and it was nice and warm outside. A nice change. We had a short wait until 8pm, when the restaurant opened. Dinner was delicious! Alberto's quest for Argentinian beef is now over. 
Something to drink
I was loving my hand made gnocchi
Alberto murdering some tasty beef

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