Friday, February 27, 2009

Ruta 40

When I last left you I think I was stuck in the rain in Chile after Marty dumped the bike. Things did not get much better. We headed down the road and found it was impassable. In fact. impassable would be an improvement. The bridges were out. The water in the towns along the way had been turnd off because of floooding, and people were stuck for three days before they could even turn around.

So we headed for Pto Ibanez and waited a day for a ferry to Chile Chico, Chile where we were able to cross the border to Argentina. It was dry and clear.

Ruta 40 is the main north- south road in Argentina along the front slope of the Andes. But it is not paved, for the most part. This fact combined with the wind makes it a difficult ride. We rode for eight hours without any town, and spent the night at an Estancia named La Siberia. Estancias are ranchesand some offer lodging. Some are just operating ranches. But La Siberia has real accomodations. Marty and I basically slept in the bunk house. On the first day down ruta 40 we metabout 10 people, eight of which were Germans. At he Estancia we met another German couple who had lived in California for a while anda n Argentine couple and there 3 kids on a fishing vacation. So I ended up speaking more German than Spanish in this remote region.

The high point of the trip down Ruta 40 happened just south of Tres Lagoa on the asphalt. There is a short asphalt section that connects some east-west roads. Some Argentine police on their day off had set up an impromptu check point consisting of 2 orange cones and a private Ford F150 pickup. Our rule every where is we stop at real checkpoints where there is a building, flag, scale and such. But othersise we wave and keep going. So I waved. Marty was not as lucky and as he approached about 15 seconds behind me a cop stepped in front of him and got him pulled over. I pulled up about 500 meteres down the road and waited. When Marty did not come , I went back. Marty was talking with the cop and had given him copies of his license and registration, which did not please the guy. He was kind of surprised when I came back and pulled in behind him. The cop wanted original papers and wanted to search Marty´s top bag. Marty told him “ sure – at the municipal office. I don´t open anything on the road”. The stop was obviosly not legitimate because the cops did not want to go to town with 2 foreigners. So Marty is now 1 for 1 with the cops. Those guys were so perplexed when we refused to give original documents. It gives them nothing to hold on to. And we never refused to comply, we just say “ we will do it at the station”. Out attitude with cops trying to shake us down now is that we have all the time in the world. They don´t.

Then it was on to Perito Moreno glacier and the great town of El Calafate. I need to write a separate blog on Perito Moreno and the next stop Torres del Paine in Chile. But I have attached some photos in the mean time. Today we are on Tierra Del Fuego and have arrived in Ushuaia. So I have a lot of blog updates to give.


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