Friday, March 5, 2010

"Ruta 3" The Highway of Punishment

Several penguins tending to their burrows. I believe these were juveniles awaiting the return of the parent that often swims more than 600km off shore in search of food for the youngster. At first I thought the small ones were babies, but then realized that the big ones were molting feathers and were actually big fat babies waiting for more food from the parents.

Apparently I've come to a land that appreciates us Rig pigs!...Troy?

It has been 4 straight days of riding 95km/hr up Ruta 3 toward Buenos Aires. To add insult to injury the km are numbered and I am currently counting down at km 691 of 3083. I believe that the highway will end at my destination of Buenos Aires (km zero) either tomorrow or the next morning. For the initial 2000km the scenery was unchanged. The horizon was always in view and the land was a combination of sand and black hearty shrubs. I saw several Guanaco's, sheep and horses along the way. The entire highway has fencing parallel to the road to keep the sheep off the road. However, this does not deter the herbavores as there are occasional carcasses of all the above listed animals in the ditch along side the highway.

On rute 3, just after passing through the 2nd and final Chile-Argentine border (for me) I stopped at a site called the Azul Volcano. I could see the lava flows stretching across the fields for miles and had no idea what it actually was. The cone had exploded off and there was only a crater left in the ground that was about 100 meters across and 30 meters deep. It was a neat site to stop at and a great place for me to pitch my tent for the night.
I made my way further up the highway and passed a sign that caught my eye. It was a shot of several penguins and a sign indicating a national park. I had 130km on the trip odometer and the site was 60km one way down a dirt road. You'd figure that I learned my lesson the first three times that I ran out of gas (....oh I forgot to mention that the gas station coming out of Ushuaia at the Border was closed and I had to flag two dudes from the US who were riding BMW's with huge tanks. They didn't even bat an eye...just unplugged the fuel line and gave me 2 litres each. This got me to a gas station another 120km down the road which I drove to at 2500 RPM and 60km/h with Grant who was also in the same predicament. I filled up with 23.5 litres to top off my 24 litre tank.) This time however, I did learn.... I bought a 5 litre jerry can that I proudly carry on the back of the bike now while still adhereing to the "fill up every 200km rule". I now had plenty of gas to get me to the penguins and to also get me to civilization again.
I pulled out of the penguin colony and felt great about stopping at a site that I had no clue what to expect of. It was interesting to see that the penguins excavated burrows and that their nests were located nearly a kilometer from the beach among shrubs and small hearty trees. I made my way along the path and the several wooden board walks constructed to preserve the habitat and was fortunate to hear the calls from several penguins. It was a neat experience that opened up my eyes to another aspect of nature.
I hopped back on the bike and made my way to the town of Trelew. I found a place called the "Hotel Motor Tourist" Perfect...I thought. I checked into the place and settled in for the night after eating one of the best steaks I've had in a long time. The owner of the place was very nice and gave me a magazine and some pamphlets describing his hotel with pictures from the early 1900's when the hotel was built.
Today was more of the same, until that is, km 998 when the tree's and green grass replaced the black scrub brush. I looked at the GPS (which has been konking out all the time now) and I was at latitud 40 degrees south. The highway was now a black strip with green grass and yellow mustard plants blanketing the adjacent horizons. The smell of plants was inviting after being immersed in the desert for the past several weeks.
The road has finally got to me and boredom has set in. I've begun singing songs and reliving memories from the past that I have not thought about in a long time. I guess now that I'm aware of my idle brain, I can perhaps think of some sort of profitable invention that can further fund future moto adventures.
I've arrived in Bahia Blanca for the night and everyone here seems to be pretty happy with life. I went out for dinner and a beer and people watched as kids practiced cart wheels and jumped from one square to another in the streets paved with tiles. No parents were corraling these kids and just let them play. Perhaps this is where the driving etiquette is derrived...but we'll not go to that topic.
Tomorrow I head further north and into Buenos Aires to sort out my visa before entering Brazil and the Portugese speaking population. How do you say hello?


  1. lucky you to happen upon those penguins.... your very own version of the March of the Penguins. great pictures! thanks.

  2. forgot to tell you, I know one word in Portuguese -- lixo=garbage - spent 2 weeks in Portugal awhile back and that is all I learned- how pathetic is that!