The end is in sight.
Helping our new friends change a tire and get un-stuck in the desert
Lucas,....Hard core dude from Switzerland cycling routa 40
After taking the tour to the Salar de Uyuni, which was quite an amazing experience, we loaded up the bike and began making our way to Argentina. I was up for a few hours during the night contemplating putting the knobby tire back on. (considering that it had rained all evening and all night).
A fellow from France named "Orrilleon" ( How do you spell it?) helped me for 20 minutes in the morning as we worked together seamlessly. Turns out that he was a motorcycle mechanic and we got the job done in a jiffy. He was heading along another route on his Suzuki DR 650 with his wife on the back.
The road out of Uyuni was a mess of chocolate pudding mixed with grease, I was so happy that I had the knobby on. After about 10 minutes of getting the feel of the road I up'd the speed to 70km/hr which allowed us to float the mud and wash board. After about 100km we passed out of the rain cloud and the road got a lot better. The rivers in the desert had water in them and thus we had to ford a few rivers along the way. Thankfully the river crossings we neither deep nor muddy and along with the knobby we passed through them easily.
We encountered a mining town midway to Argentina's border where the road got better and moments later we met Pablo who was on his way north from Ushuaia. He rode the identical bike to mine and we were both happy to see old relics still on the road.
The geology of the area just before the border was amazing. I kept thinking that we were traveling through a miniature Grand Canyon. There were Bute's, crests and all kinds of other formations which were eye candy for hungry eyes.
We pulled into a town to eat lunch only to realise that the whole town was shut down until the evening because it was sunday!!!...Duh!! We headed over to the gas station with our fingers crossed. Of course they were open....infact they were waiting for us! I filled the tank, but unfortunately I didn't pay the price on the pump. Apparently if you are local you pay a lower price than does the non-resident. I ended up paying 82 Boliviano's instead of the pump price of only 52...( $3.50 difference) It was discrimination against my wealthy white pockets. Oh well, I didn't care that much considering I was heading to beautiful lands beyond and those biggots were gonna attend to their family owned gas pumps for many generations to come...that is until the next landslide comes and they get washed down river along with my $3.50!
Argentina was on the horizon and we didn't want to spend another day in Bolivia after being taken advantage of several times in the tourist town of Uyuni and at the gas station. I pulled the bike up to the border crossing and within 3 minutes I was out of Bolivia. Argentina is another story... it took 2 hours just to get my passport stamped as multiple bus drivers pulled up to the border with the bus guides walking right up to the window and handing the border patrol 50 passports at a time. I was first in line for 2 hours.
Alas, we finally made it through and checked into a hostal run by Alberto. It was a very nice place and the difference between Bolivia and Argentina is night and day! Argentina is clean and people are nice...the food is good and everything is twice the price...you get what you pay for I guess. We went from 10 dollars a night to 30 dollars a night with good breakfasts, and toilet paper included...also you have lights that work in the bathroom!...Bonus!
I changed the oil today, and washed the mud and dirt off the bike. It was so caked on the bike that the temperature was reading hot because the radiator was clogged with mud.
We made our way down Route 9 in search of Routa 40. Routa 40 is Argentinas Route 66. It passes within a stones throw of many of Argentina's beloved specticals which we hope to see. The road is pretty well maintained thus far (300Km) with the occasional washout and sandy sections.
On the horizon it was raining pretty hard in the directon of our travel. We encountered a car that lost control and high sided itself in a sand bank. The fellows were digging the sand and I offered to help with my experience with getting stuck several times while driving around in the patch (oil patch). I jacked the wheels off the ground and got them to put blankets under the wheels which elevated the car off the sand bank. The front driver's side tire was flat so I changed it for the fellows and they were on their way with ease. Moments after saying goodbye to those guys we encounted a torrential desert rain. Before the rain started however, we began splashing through a river flowing down the road in our direction. It was foamy and had lots of dirt and sticks suspended in the brown water and white froth.
Luckily for us, and the newly cleaned bike, the road was only wet for about 3 km. It was getting late and we rode into a small town with only one good hotel. I ignored the guy hanging out at the gas station with a flyer to his hotel and went to the one with a Llama on it.
As it turns out it was the most expensive hotel in town (if a town is what you would want to call it) and sat down to a great supper and bonus comfy beds and included breakfast for about $60 bucks...ouch!
The rain followed us here and passed over us down the route that we'll follow tomorrow so I pray that the road will hold up and I don't have to putt...putt down Routa 40 at 40Km/hr.