For the second time in 100 metres the front wheel very nearly went from under us and the back wheel did it’s best to overtake the front; my heart jumped and we only just stayed upright. At least the wildlife was interesting to look at.
Our first day of the adventure proper saw us leave Buenos Aires in stifling heat an hour later than planned and straight up the Avenida de 9 Julio, all 18 or so lanes of it (so that’s the bad road then). However we survived it and once clear of BA heading first NW then N on Ruta 12 and 14 the road opened up, the traffic thinned to almost nothing and all was well with the world as we rode the good roads. Well, at least it was good until we reached the Nacional Parque Al Palmar entrance. After paying quite a hefty entrance fee we looked at the dirt/sand track in front of us and asked the lady, “how far down there to the campsite” – only 12 kms Senor (gulp).
Jenny and I have done dirt/stony tracks but never ridden sand before and although it wasn’t deep sand (e.g. desert) it was bad enough. The sensation of the front wheel going all over the place was really unnerving. Desperately trying to remember what other adventure bikers had said about riding sand I recalled you should accelerate through it to stabilise the bike – yeh right, that’s the ugly road then! But we survived and the campsite had a beautiful setting, However, when shared with dozens of very loud school children extending our stay more than uno noche was not on the cards. Never mind I thought, we’ll be off tomorrow (back up that flipping track).
This far north and heading up toward Iguazu it’s a fairly populous part of the country by Argentine standards, nevertheless the distances and openness still take some getting used to for first timers like us. You just seem to drive forever with hardly any other vehicles about. Video link: http://bit.ly/1wCBJB6 – there are plenty of police checkpoints though but we just kept to the speed limits (mostly) and it was fine. If you’re going to come up here on two wheels just be a bit wary. The surfaces are changeable and there are occasional bad potholes in the slow lane (just like UK then!). One particularly nice thing they do for 2 wheel aficionado’s is they cut grooves in the road for several KMs before they do work on it. The effect on the bike is a horrible squirming under you as the tyres do their best to fit into the grooves (which aren’t straight). Bit like being on a crazy Scalextric track and not nice at all.
After a stop at Mercedes we headed SE on Ruta 123 and struggled to get our heads around 110 km of good two lane road, no habitation, one police checkpoint and about 6 bends. Amazing, we could see for miles and it was so straight I actually had to think about the bends when they came. Category = Good!
After that we discovered a little more about the local weather. We could see the storm clouds gathering and had just congratulated ourselves on outrunning the one to our left when we got hit by the one to our right. Normally we just put our waterproofs on get on with it so we ‘manned up’ – and ran for the nearest shelter! It was like the sky had just emptied a bucket of water on us. After it happened a second time we started to wonder if we’d done something to upset the good Lord but nevertheless we reached San Ignacio Mini and the Hostel El Jesuit in fine, if somewhat waterlogged, style. Video link: http://bit.ly/1xqr8aD
So here we are enjoying a couple of days in a world heritage site. Yes there are tourists but it’s worth it to see the restored Jesuit Mission – oh and the people at the Hostel, Ulises & Irma, are lovely – there’s a pattern starting to form on our trip already and it’s all about the people.