Argentina 15

The goal today (February 25th, 2007) is ride from Cordoba to Tucuman Argentina.  The distance is 355 miles and it is hot.  I can't wait to get back into the Andes, where it will be cooler.  Well... it does not start off as I planned.  I went to unlock the steering and dropped the key.  The thermometer on the bike tells me it is already 91 degrees in the basement parking area.  It took 45 minutes to remove the seat and tank and find the key.  There went my chances to get a few miles under my belt before it got really hot!

It would have been an enjoyable ride if it was 20 degrees cooler.
The first tree in 100 miles.

A chance to take a 5 minute break and down a quart of water.

This sign made me homesick for my red convertible at home.

A huge salt flat about 100 miles before I get to Tucuman.

(102 degrees)

The beast has been treating me nice!

I decide to rest a day in Tucuman (the 27th of February).

The only goal is to get one "Then and Now", of the main Plaza.

View from my hotel room.

Tucuman is a sugar cane area.  Many people work in the fields for 3 or 4 months, and are unemployed for the rest of the year.

Many poor areas exist.

I look at my "Then and Now" photo and calculate that I need to get into tower were the clock is located.

You always have to have lofty goals.......

I had to negotiate for nearly an hour with the father, but was told I could only have access to the roof of the church, as the inside of the spire needed restoration and was unsafe.

The father was correct in stating it was unsafe.  Many times there would be 2 or 3 steps missing on the stair cases.

But the gentleman that took me to the roof was sympathetic and escorted me up the spire.

It had been awhile since anybody had knocked away the spider webs.
Boards were missing in most of the floors
We finally make it to the bell/clock area.  He twisted the rod from the clock mechanism to the hands on the clock in order to get the hands out of my view.

It triggered the bells to go off.

That trigger my heart rate to climb about 20 points in 1/2 second!

That is the clock mechanism in the middle of the tower, with 4 rods going out to the four clocks.

Alberto was very proud of showing me everything in the tower.

Above me is the light which makes the four clocks visible at night.

The following picture is from 1925, in a book by Frank Carpenter, titled Carpenter's World Travels.  This "Then and Now" was disappointing, in that the trees block most of the view.  The church on the right is pretty much the same, but the building with all the arches has been replaced (pictures farther down the page).

All you can really see is the dome on the back side of the church.  The experience was still enjoyable.

The dome on the roof of the church, where I had access to the clock tower.
The street, as seen from the bell tower.

This is a close up of the church from the "Then and Now" (above), with the dome, which was the only thing visible from the bell tower.

This is the building which replaced the building with arches.

My guess is 75% of the people in Tucuman use scooters or small motorcycles for their means of transportation.

On the 28th it is time to leave the city and head to the more remote areas of Northwestern Argentina.  I leave Tucuman for Cafayate.

After about 30 miles I start climbing and climbing and climbing, as I head west towards the Andes.

It almost turns into jungle.

To finally be out of the flatlands gets me excited about riding.

This was a very scenic and fun day!

Many of the canyons were so narrow they had to hang the roadways to the cliffs.

And rivers everywhere.

A biker's dream road........... Sure wish Sandy was here to enjoy the scenery!

The elevation is high enough that I start seeing Llamas again.  Hey, this trip is getting exciting again for me!

I saw a sign on a dirt road which lead to an observatory.

Enough pavement.....

This is the perfect excuse to ride in the dirt again!

It was a small observatory, but this gentleman was more than willing to show me everything on the hill top....

A very nice guy!

Some of the riding today reminded me of our Southwest deserts.

In this picture I have reached 10,000 feet.

Have I already told you I am really enjoying this ride?

Indigenous ruins in Quilmes (Ruta 40).  This area is not as influenced by the Europeans, as the rest of Argentina.  I feel like I am in the highlands of Peru!

The church in Cafayate.

My hotel was on the back side of the church.

I am enjoying this trip so much, I find it hard that I will not visit these parts of South America again.

I am thinking that this might be the way to go after I hit 70 years old.

I spoke to a gentleman that had a 110 diesel Defender.

He bought it in Buenos Aires for $14,000.

He thinks he will be able to sell it for $12,000 to $13,000.

That has me thinking.

For $1,000 to $2,000 you have cheap transportation for 5 to 8 months.

(Sandy... I am just thinking aloud)

In Cafayate I meet four people from London riding on 2 KTM 950's.  It was nice to have a beer and dinner with other riders.

This day started out perfect (the 29th of February).  Beautiful blue skies! 

The goal for today is to ride from Cafayate to Cochi.  A distance of 100 miles, and all dirt.  I am a happy guy!

Buenos Aires is long behind me now.  I am loving it!  It had a Mexico/Peru feeling to it

I could have skipped this picture, but I promised you all that I would attempt to bring you along for the entire ride.  Not just the major landmarks.  With close to 20,000 miles in South America, this is my second time down.  My front suspension is terrible.  I am running with just the springs, as the front seals are bad.  Sandy is going to bring seals down when she comes and joins me.  I hit the small wash board and I slowed down, but at 10 miles an hour I lost it.  When I went over I was probably doing 2 mph.  I am embarrassed that I went down here, on a road that is not at all challenging.......  Honest, I can ride better than this...... or at least I used to ride better than this.  I will wait for the emails ribbing me (I can take it)!

No sooner had I gone over and pulled out my camera, that these two riders from Germany pulled up.  It was nice to have help to "right the beast".

They were 2 up, and doing fine, and I fell over.  I am sure they laughed at the Gringo!

Days like this, with 100 miles of dirt, is what riding in South America is all about!

Have I already told you that I am in heaven, and really enjoying the day!

Peppers drying in front of the home of an indigenous.

This is a GS road!  For you riders out there, I hope you can see how enjoyable this road is to ride?

I am smiling from ear to ear!  Wish I was sharing it with Sandy!

Snow on the mountain peaks, Llamas on the road side (not in this pictures), neat rock formations, great dirt road and the Andes in the background.

Another day which was almost perfect!

Some upheaval here....... Loved geology in college.

Molines, Argentina.... from here I only have another 30 miles of dirt road to Cochi.

I was having too much fun!  I was riding with some German riders for about 5 miles (a KTM 640 and a R100GS BMW).  They were on lightly loaded bikes (they had a truck hauling their gear).  I am still pretty heavy (about 120 pounds of gear in the cases).  I came around a corner and was staring right at a car.  I changed my course, and thought I would clear the car.  I was down to about 15 MPH.  The cylinder on the bike cleared the car.  My leg cleared the car.  The Jesse side case did not clear the car.  At 15 mph it was a solid impact but I was able to keep the bike upright.  I felt like an idiot.  Here I am in the middle of nowhere and had forgotten my first rule....... you ride for survival and distance down here.... ! 

Save the "Fun Exciting" riding for when you are with buddies or in the states where hospitals are convenient.  At first I was really in the dumps, upset that the case was ruined.  Concerned that I would be able to get everything I had, out of the remote area.  I took the case off, and took everything out of it.  This was the case with the laptop, 2 external hard drives, a Hi-Def video camera, Satellite phone, iPod and everything else electrical.  I then jumped on it and beat it with rocks.  All four corners were torn and I did the best I could.  I limped the last 15 miles to Cochi doing 10 mph, disgusted with myself for my foolishness.  Don't get all over me!  I have done enough self punishment.  I am being honest here, and realize my error.  I realize how close this could have been to ending my trip.  Somebody was watching over me.  Sandy has already ordered a case from Jesse, and will bring it down when she joins me, which I hope is soon.  It has been a month and I am really missing her.  I need her here to keep me inline!   

So I do my best to enjoy the sights as I limp down the road, with my tail between my legs,

I made it to Cochi, Argentina, and I hope I am a little more mature. 

There are no welders here, so I went to a tire shop and borrowed an 8 pound mallet and beat on the case for another hour. 

It appears that I can get by until Sandy shows up with the new case and hopefully a big smile on her face.     

More later...

Cochi is fantastic and it looks like the next week will be VERY fun..... Hope you enjoy the pictures!

That's it through March 1, 2007.

For "Argentina 14"  hit the "Back Button".....       For "Argentina 16"  hit the "Next Button".....

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