Sunday 13 September 2009

ARGENTINA La Quiaca-Salta (Sept 9-14)

We crossed the border from Bolivia to Argentina on Sept 9 and sped passed the usually vigilant customs. They missed me but caught Jude, although they let her go with plenty of cheap Bolivian contraband (i.e. cheap fresh food).

The road stayed at high altitudes (3500-3750m) for 100km with very strong gusty winds from the west and south (crosswinds and headwinds). It was difficult holding the bike steady. Luckily little traffic as a protest roadblock held back southbound buses. No shoulder all the way to Salta (467kms away) which made riding dangerous as the traffic picked up.

Later in the day the road turned east and the wind was a lovely tailwind - I hit 27kph on the flat without pedalling! Then turned a bend and almost got blown onto the asphalt.

Fingers of rock and striated hills near Tres Cruces, about to enter the Quebrada de Humahuaca. It is a much publicised route by Argentinians but we thought the scenery around Tupiza was more impressive. It was pleasant scenery but all the way through the canyon we had to ride hard against a punishing cold southerly wind whipping up the narrow quebrada. Que malo, que duro!

At Humahuaca campground we met 2 grey nomads from Melbourne. Barry and Carol in their rig from Australia on a 3 year odyssey around Sth America.
Buen viaje amigos!

Sebastian and his legendary carne asado at Hostal Pucara, in Tilcara - my birthday bash!

The Argentinian slow cook BBQ - puts Australian barbeques back in the Stone Age.

Here is the crowd at Hostal Pucara drinking cheap red wine- A$2 a bottle. The party got pretty rowdy later on- with Pink Floyd and The Doors blaring from the stereo.

Back on the road - after the party I was feeling all my years- not sure if it´s the hangover or the cold I got in the Gobi desert dust storm in Bolivia. My knee is also acting up again and hard to pedal strong against the headwind. OK , I´m having a whinge - a grumpy old man!

Outside Tilcara - eroded hillsides and cacti

The famous seven-coloured rocks of Purmamarca

Outside Tilcara taking a break from speeding traffic and the incessant wind. Check out the road edge- no shoulder at all. Bloody dangerous with trucks and buses.

We camped at Yala beside a river and the next morning hit the road early for the long 112km ride to Salta. Route 9 turned out to be a windless, warm and very pleasant ride. At 25 degrees C, nice climbing gradient and low elevations (1200-1500m) it was like riding up to Fern Tree, Tasmania on a summers day. Almost no traffic on a single-lane paved road weaving through the forested hills with a touch of spring genesis. Bliss for two tired cyclists!

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