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Old 02-18-2013, 07:29 PM   #87
porkandcorn OP
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Joined: Jan 2011
Location: Portland, Oregon
Oddometer: 296
praia do rosa, brazil to são gabriel, brazil to santa fe, argentina

sunday, february 17, 2013

i didn't know how far i would get when i started riding today. i was aiming for the border town of uruguaiana, brazil, where i could cross into argentina. it was literally hot as hell today. about 103 and humidity of 10,003%. i was absolutely miserable in my riding gear the entire morning. but with that kind of heat, storms are a given. i could see the relief off in the distance to the west, but i had to suffer through the intense heat until i got to the storms. i was tired, and the heat was compounding the fact.

beauty north of porto alegre on BR101, brazil by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i stopped at a gas station as i do about every hour or two if they are available. i took off my jacket and laid in the shade under a tree next to the station. i had my leftover pizza from the night before. it reminded me of the praia do rosa, but i was far from the beach now. i think i actually dozed off a couple of times laying on the dirt concrete. i've become an opportunistic napper on the continent. one must do this.

so i went from the driving heat into a driving rain. it was intense for a while, and then continued to rain steady for the next 3 hours. i asked at a gas station where the next "cool" town was to stay for the night. the pimple-face teen said são gabriel. it was 160km to the west, and the sky was finally starting to clear. i was pretty confident i could make it there before twilight. twilight is when all the animals start to come out on the road, and i was riding through an area with more big rodents, deer, dogs, chickens, and an occasional cows feeding by the roadside.

rain without end, BR 290 near uruguaiana, brazil by porkandcorn, on Flickr

more rain without end, BR 290 near uruguaiana, brazil by porkandcorn, on Flickr

são gabriel is a peaceful little farming town, from what i can tell. i drove into the main plaza or square as i now do out of reflex. sunday nights are big nights for small city plazas. it was just before dark, and all the teenagers were parked and tailgating, drinking yerba mate, and blasting their stereos. others were driving around the plaza in and endless loop. moms and dads were out with the kids and the kids rode their bikes and played on swings. the town drunks were out too, in a jovial mood, dancing to the bateria (drumming ensemble) that was playing on the east side of the plaza.

i was having dinner in a restaurant in the middle of the plaza. plastic chair, plastic tables, and a pretty damn good steak with the requisite papas fritas (fries), arroz (rice), and salada mixto com palmito (mixed salad with palm heart). sitting there, calmly and slowly eating my dinner, it was like being transported back to the 1950's in middle america, long before walmart destroyed our small town squares that probably used to look a lot like this. one can find several things that are "wrong" with these "developing" countries, but one thing you can't say is that rampant commercialism is destroying their sense of community. it is strong and alive, and it is admirable. i love palm hearts by the way, i'm going to start eating them all the time when i get back to the states. they are very good with arugula, tomatoes and oil/vinegar/salt.

also, thank you to my new friend cleber from porto alegre. he was on vacation with his family at the same pousada in praia do rosa. it was nice to have some company for a change to explore the town last thursday and friday nights.

cleber from porto alegre, praia do rosa, brazil by porkandcorn, on Flickr


monday, february 18, 2013

after another 10-hour day on the road, i made it to santa fe argentina. it was a character-building day on the bike. it began raining 30 minutes after i left sao gabriel. it was coming in sheets, massive downpours. it was ok on the brazil side, but after about 3 hours around noon, i crossed into argentina at uruguaiana, brazil.

final moments in brazil with a buffet livre and guarana, uruguaiana, brazil by porkandcorn, on Flickr

once in argentina, the roads took a turn for the worse. still pavement, but with deep grooves in the road in the direction of travel. in the right lane of the two west-bound lanes, heavy truck traffic had worn two parallel tire grooves into the lane. the favored solution for this problem in argentina is to take a highway-sized cheese grater to the bump that is left in the center between the two grooves.

a rare break in the clouds, near federal, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

either way it is a nightmare scenario for a motorcycle. if you ride in the two grooves, they act line a rain-channel, an inch or more deep at times. this was all fine until the bikes rear wheel (maybe both) began to hydroplane. hydroplaning in a car is a curious or maybe unpleasant experience. doing so on a motorcycle at 90kmh is an oh-shit moment that will get the adrenaline pumping overtime. i slowed down after that obviously.

riding on the cheese grated center portion is just as weird, because the grooves go with the direction of travel and whip the tires back and forth, almost like riding thick, loose gravel.

a weird looking kid with big hair, federal, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

and you can't travel in the fast/passing lane for very long, because in brazil, argentina... really anywhere down here, there is always some asshole right on your tail or coming out of nowhere. no matter how fast you go, someone else is always in a bigger hurry than you are. it's easy in that lane to get too comfortable and forget to check your mirrors. then you are in a situation where you have to move over into the water-filled or cheese-grated sections at speed with some jerk-off with his bumper on your tire.

on top of all this, there was a 40mph cross wind, so i was leaning the whole day at an angle in the wind, which at times would push me over 4 or 5 feet with strong gusts.

more forboding skies, near chajarí, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

fun stuff! the rain finally let up for the most part at about 4pm today, i arrive in santa fe at about 7:30pm. i followed the signs to city center, and pulled over to ask a couple of younger dudes where i should stay. good practice to get into before you get too deep into a big city that doesn't have an obvious town square or city center. i like to do it on the perimeter. the dudes said go to the holiday inn, and pointed it out on my GPS. i hit "go" and in 5 minutes, i was pulling into a u-drive and checking into my $80 USD room. covered in mud, soaked in rain, and weary from the day, that felt like the deal of the century.

pedestrian street, santa fe, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

then off for some famous argentine beef, which even though ordered "jougoso" (juicy/medium rare), it was totally overdone. a known practice in argentina for meat lovers is to order one or two levels more rare than you would like, because they will almost always over cook it here. it looked like it was once an amazing piece of marbled beef - at least it still tasted good.

espana restaurant, santa fe, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

ps. just received some really good news. one of my old ducks was just recently recovered in boulder creek, california by an old friend. this duck is about 10 years old and have seen some good times. i certain my current duck will be happy to know his long-lost brother has been found.

an old friend, boulder creek, california by porkandcorn, on Flickr
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