My big ride - A Kiwified Dutchman heading South from LA

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Normlas, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Rio Cuatro is actually a pretty cool little city with a nice Plaza De Armas and I score an OK hotel in a great location (Hotel Venecia which I have added to Ioverlander), I even have a balcony with some good people-watching to had.

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    After I head out to the nearby Carrefour supermarket and pick up some supplies (blue cheese, parma ham, fresh bread and some veges) I settle in to my balcony for the evening.

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    The next day is "catch up on jobs" day and was very successful, I get an oil change done (at 40,000 miles for my reference), give my chain some love, re-glue my pannier seals and fix my low beam headlight which has been broken for almost 3 months. I think I finally worked out the problem which I thought was due to my electrical meltdown in Ecuador, but was probably due to the retaining clip that holds the bulb in place having been bent and the bulb was very loose in the fitting, I bent it back into shape replaced the bulb and it sits there firmly and works for now, keen to see for how long!

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    I also find a zapateria and get my sandals fixed and order a few things for Lisa to bring with her when she comes to BA in early Feb. Once the heat of the day subsides in the afternoon I head out to explore the town a bit better, starting with a very good coffee in the plaza.

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    And run into another kiwi!

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    The Rio Cuatro itself is a popular place for families to hang out and swim during these hot days although the water looks pretty brown and dodgy like all the rivers up here do for some reason.

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    I have a chilled out evening watching some of the Dakar racing on TV (in Spanish of course) and plan to head North to Cordoba tomorrow. Unfortunately I wake to thunder, lightning and a very wet day with a very wet forecast.

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    Which makes for an easy decision to stay another day and enjoy this little city. In case anyone is interested I use two android apps for weather, the screengrab is from an app called "YR", it's Danish and works great and it's the most accurate weather app I have found regardless of where I am in the world. The other is an app called "Windy" which has fantastic visuals and charts wind, temp or rain on a large zoomable map, it's very good for checking the longer term forecast and weather patterns over a large area of map. I recommend both of these free apps.

    So that's me for now, greetings from a wet and warm Rio Cuatro and hoping to make it to Cordoba tomorrow, weather permitting.
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  2. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    I leave Rio Cuatro under dark skies and although I put the rain cover on my tank bag, it doesn't do it's job and it start to rain on the way to Cordoba, I stop to put on the rain suit and it does do it's job and the rain stops immediately...... It has cooled down considerably and I am back in thermals and grip heaters. The hostels in Cordoba looked pretty average so I booked an AirB&B and arrive after a pleasant 3 hour ride at grandma's house - literally, lovely people who make me part of the family and I arrive just as one of the grandkids is having a birthday lunch - good times.

    In the afternoon I head into the city, about 10 blocks away and hit a few of the sights including a cathedral, the plaza, government house and a 400 year old Jesuit church - nice to be back in a city with some history, my last city like this was Santiago - a long tome ago ! Cordoba is the nicest city I have seen in Argentina, just beautiful!

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    And of course the dead guy on a horse

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    Beautiful light in this photo - do you see the light????

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    And this is the 400 year old Jesuit church (Manzana Jesuitica)

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    The next day I am keen to get me some more culture and head out for a big museum tour, starting at the museum of fine art housed in a fantastic old palace (Palacio Ferreyra).

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    Then to the Museum of Modern art housed in another palace (Palacio Dionisi)

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    And the museum of art photography (Museo de Caraffa)

    Which had a great exhibition and a very cool toilet.

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    Then off to the museum of modern art, which was very cool and had some great exhibitions and spaces, the architecture was very waged but it worked.

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    In between all this I came across a very interesting little plaza (plazita) dedicated to Ana Frank, surprising given that the Argentinian leader at the time was a big fan of the Nazis and welcomed them to settle in Argentina????? WTF Argentina? pick a side!!

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    I come across some more contemporary and waged architecture but it fits n very well and I am totally impressed with this city.

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    After all the arty-fartsy stuff I am in need of some grounding in good ol' science and hit the Museum of natural sciences - wonderful!

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    Who celebrate one of my all time heroes - Darwin!

    The I head back into the city in search of some good coffee - which I find, and some oil filters and crush washers for my bike, which turns out to be not so easy to find.

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    I finally find the filters but it takes me maybe 15 different shops and many hours to find the crush washers, who would have thought??? But I finally succeed and have covered maybe 20 kms on foot today.

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    Woohoo!

    I also finally manage to get my Chilean pesos changed for Argentinian ones at a reasonable rate which has been a huge mission as none of the banks will take them, they are happy to change US Dollars or Euros but not Chilean pesos and the only reason they give is that they don't like Chile??

    So a very long but interesting day here in Cordoba, a fantastic city full of culture, good food and nice people. Tomorrow I aim to head further North towards the Paraguayan border, more to come!
  3. Kiwi Mo

    Kiwi Mo Long timer

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    Good work Normlas.
    I had to put my glasses on to see if that All Black had some fingers extended. :-) Kiwi


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  4. Beredon

    Beredon Adventurer

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    You still going great! Fets getting worse still alive not much kickend anymore........ Have fun
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  5. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Sorry to hear that guys, stay strong!
  6. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    I leave my AirBnB in Cordoba at a reasonable time as the forecast is pretty dire and I am keen to get as far North as I can get in one day to avoid the rain that's coming.

    Here's the family stayed with, lovely people, thank you Sandra, Roque and Lourdes!

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    I head North West and the countryside changes immediately, I hit some hills and some nice twisties, it's been way to long since I had twisties and me and the bike almost don't know how to corner anymore...... but it's just like riding a bike you know? :) and it comes back quickly. After a couple of hundred kms I hit a sobering sight as I come across a motorbike lying in the middle of the road and a body lying under a sheet beside it....gulp, the cops have the road blocked off but I always hate to see this kinda thing and it reminds me to slow up and keep the rubber side down at all costs. There are lots of motorbikes around here and very few people are wearing helmets...... it's just so stupid, they even have their helmets on their arm quite often !! WTF people, you only have one head! ATGATT ! (All The Gear All The Time, for the non-bikers).

    I was thinking to stop at Chamacal but I'm making good time and so chose to continue onto La Rioja, which makes a huge day for me at over 500kms and about 7 hours in the saddle, the first few hours had very busy traffic and lots of little towns which made for slow progress.

    The scenery changes again and I end up riding through cactus covered deserts and the temp has hit 30 degrees. The further I get from Cordoba the more empty the roads become, it is beautiful in its' desolation. I get to La Rioja and play a difficult hotel game but I do get to see the whole town in the process and end up at a very nice hotel right in the centre negotiated down to 800 pesos or about $22USD, which is expensive for me but I got sick of looking and there wasn't that much choice. In the evening I head out for a look around and take in the ever present cathedral.

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    The forecast for the next day is heavy rain all day (up to 6mm/hr) so I chose to hunker down and chill in my very nice hotel, I end up watching a few movies and am in the middle of the series 'The man from the high castle" which has me gripped....

    The day after my chill day the forecast is still bad and it's staying bad for the next three days so I decide to risk it and head out under dark skies. The ride up Ruta 75 is fantastic and probably the best ride I have had in Argentina, stunning canyons, lakes, desert and cute little towns. Unfortunately it doesn't take long for the rain suit to come out, although the rain is light, it is steady....

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    With a few long straight stretches typical of Argentinian roads.

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    If the weather had been better I would have been camping in that valley right there, just beautiful!

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    I have seen quite a few of these shrines with loads of water bottles all around them, this is not a part of the truckers' apple juice repository system but rather some kind of religious/superstitious thing.

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    I have seen some with thousands of bottles of water around them? Whatever floats their boat I guess.

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    After a few 100 kms I end up back on the famous Ruta 40, the road that crosses all of Argentina the long way.

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    The scenery remains stunning and I thoroughly enjoy the ride, the rain eases up too and I end up finding an awesome buffet restaurant for lunch in a tiny little town and fill up big time on traditional fare.

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    Big skies !

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    And straight roads through the desert.

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    I end up in the tiny little town of Belen and win the hotel game in a single play! woohoo, I settle in and tour the town for the usual..

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    I find a fantastic local eatery run out of someone's back yard and have a very cheap and excellent typical Argentinian dinner of home made empenadas, salsas, salad and beer for about $4 USD!

    I'm trying to upload a couple of videos (including a pretty scary one!) but the wifi is very slow here so I am going to leave it there and get some dinner and hopefully they are up when I get back.
  7. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Here is a short part of the road leaving La Rioja and heading North-West up Ruta 40, just until the rain sets in again....



    When I woke up in Belen this morning it was raining and the forecast was for light to moderate rain all day and for the next three days. I decide to head out anyway and for the first time on my entire trip put the rain suit on in the hotel before I leave for the day.

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    Fortunately, the rain suit works a treat and the rain stops within half an hour and I have another fantastic ride, this is by far the prettiest part of Argentina I have seen - not to be missed!

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    About halfway through the morning and I see something large scuttle away beside the road and I pull over to investigate and find this we beastie !!

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    It was large enough for me to see it whilst flying past at 100km/hr, I've never seen any spider so large in the wild and end up making a little video of it. Warning; not suitable for arachnophobes!!



    Another fantastic days' riding through the desert.

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    I stop for lunch, self made salami and cheese sandwiches in the town square, and the local traffic gets heavy.....

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    They sell artisan cheeses and salamis all along the road which are very tasty and great value, I've probably been enjoying them a little too much.

    These huge cacti are everywhere along the route and make for great scenery, I have also entered wine country and am riding along the "Ruta del Vino", with small wineries everywhere selling their wares along the roadside, I'm not a big wine fan but Lisa is and I can't help but wish she was here with me - this would be heaven for her!!

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    I rock into the town of Cafayate which is very historic, picturesque and full of Argentinian tourists enjoying the wine country, the hostel prices have doubled here in the last 2 weeks and I am almost forced to go into a dorm which I hate. I reach out to the local WhatsApp riders group but they are of little use, the groups here are nowhere near as open and friendly as they were in the poorer countries and the motoposadas (biker home-stays), which I made lots of use of in Northern South America just don't happen here.

    I finally luck out and find a great Hospedeja right by the centre with a private room, airco and tv for less than half the price of the next cheapest, they don't have parking but an autolavado place next door with a huge garage will look after my moto for just 150 pesos a night and all is good in Cafayate tonight.

    I did get some good advice on a great gravel road North from here from the riders group, Ruta 40 turns to gravel from here and is no longer the main road, sounds perfect! I aim to head there tomorrow and may camp in the desert for a night, although the whole bug thing thing has me a little freaked out.

    Asta manana amigos!
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  8. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    That tarantula is probably a male wandering about trying to get laid before he dies. At least that is what they do in Arizona in the summer. Males only leave their burrow once in their adult lives to do this task. The females sit tight in their burrows waiting for a male to stop by. Actually very interesting critters.
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  9. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    So there might be a significant change in my plans....

    After dong some research last night it seems that I might need a pre-arranged visa to enter Paraguay by land, that I need to get this in person at a Paraguayan embassy in Buenos Aires and that it's going to cost me a $140 USD reciprocity fee!! :dirtdog

    According to this page it is the same for US citizens as it is for me travelling on a NZ passport, if anyone has any current info or experience on this please let me know ASAP!

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Paraguay

    Strange thing is there is no mention of this on any border crossing post on Ioverlander - which would tend to argue that this is not the case or maybe old info?

    I've put a post in the regional forum here on ADVrider to ask for advice too, linky here

    I've decided to stay here in Cafayate for another day and try and get some more info, if this is true then there's no chance of me getting to BA and then into Paraguay in the next three weeks and I'll probably bail on the entire country which would be a real shame.....

    Any advice gratefully received !!
  10. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    I guess none of the land border crossings can issue you a visa on arrival.

    "Visa on Arrival

    Holders of ordinary passports of the following countries can obtain Visa on Arrival to Paraguay borders: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Russia, Taiwan, USA. The prices applicable for visas on arrival are the same as per the following details:

    Country Single entry Multiple entries

    Australia: £117 £117

    Canada: £130 £130

    New Zealand: £122 £122

    Russia: £139 £139

    USA: £139 £139"
    http://www.paraguayembassy.co.uk/visas.html

    (I don't get the prices).
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  11. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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  12. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Thank you guys, I am getting the same info, the NZ government website points to the website of the Paraguay embassy in Japan for info here where it also says that a "visa on arrival" is only available at the international airport for tourists arriving by plane.

    Otherwise they can be applied for my surface mail, require a mountain of information and be expected to take up to 45 days!!
    It's looking more and more like Paraguay is out of the question for me :cromag

    I would still like to hear from someone who has actually entered Paraguay though, it seems that the same restrictions apply to passport holders of the following countries;

    USA, Australia, Russia, Qatar, Canada and Taiwan.
  13. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    You no longer have a Dutch passport? EU members enter visa free.
  14. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    I saw that and I do but unfortunately it expired and I left it at home.....
  15. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

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    The ride up RN40 to Cachi is gorgeous. It’s not far but I bet you’re knackered when you get there. Cuesta Del Obispo is a great twisty ride down towards Salta from Cachi. Vicuña, Cacti, twisties ..Highly recommend!
    Then if you want to ride the nicest strip of twisty narrow asphalt ANYWHERE...take the old Ruta 9 north of Salta to San Salvador de JuJuy. 65 km of insanity with zero traffic. It was so much fun that I turned back a few days later and did it again.
    If you can’t /won’t get into Paraguay, head to Iguazu Falls for a couple of days. It’s touristy but the falls are stunning. You can poke into Brazil from there and ride back through Uruguay to BA.
    Cheers!
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  16. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Hi all,
    so yeah - after a bunch more research it seems that Patagonia is out for the moment and just a reminder that it's nice to have fluid plans and a fluid mindset on this kind of journey. Since I have time to kill now and Cafayate is a nice little town I've decided to have a mini-vacation in my vacation :)

    So I went back to my really nice and cheap hotel and negotiated for a price for the week and did great work, the original price was 500 pesos per night and I got her down to 2000 for the week! I've got a nice big room, comfy double bed, private toilet, huge outside seating area, airco, TV, descent wifi and best of all - she has 6 cats!!

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    Although they are all VERY timid and I can't get near them (yet) - going to cost me some kitty treats !

    Then I went to the guy looking after my bike and got his price reduced from 200 per day down to 100 a day for the week. Although he did then proudly show my his huge stable of fighting chickens which seems to be a popular sport here, his fighting roosters were huge and stood at over half a meter !......hmmmm not my thing and although he was a super friendly and helpful guy I decide to stay clear of him after that. But all is good in Cafayate, a groovy little town with fantastic weather, good food and nice people.

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    I end up reaching out to the local bikers group and they point me to a biker who runs a restaurant in town and I head on over but he is of little help, doesn't even offer me a glass of water, let alone good advice? The support groups here in Argentina and Chile sure are different to those further North but oh well, I managed to sort myself out pretty well in this little town. And I do leave my mark...

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    There's a lot of random mules/donkeys wandering around the town square and they give the place a nice chilled out country atmosphere.

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    For dinner I end up at the most famous empanada house in Cafayate and they do have great empanadas that they bake in a huge wood fired oven right on the street, here is the boss in action.

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    These are served with a nice tomato salsa and go for 150 pesos a dozen (about $3.50USD), they're so good I end up eating here 3 out of the 4 night I've been here and a dozen is enough for dinner and lunch the next day so great value as well as tasty.

    One thing about this kinda journey is that you always have a list of things that you need to fix/replace/research, some more urgent than others and a stop like this gives me a chance to get some of them done including;

    - repair my tent poles which have started cracking and find some more repair kits
    - repair my exped mattress which has a tiny leak
    - get shopping done
    - get a bunch of emails done
    - change my cell phone provider as Movistar doesn't work up here so I changed to Personal - which was half a day's work on it's own as you are supposed to be Argentinian to use this provider so I had to find someone who would let me use their DNI number to register (akin to a social security / ID number), but all sorted now and the same price as Movistar, 30 pesos for the SIM and 100 pesos per week for 2gig of fast 4G data (about $2.50 USD).
    - wash my helmet and liner - tip of the day is use shampoo for this, works great !
    - got my washing done finally
    - updated all the software on my phone and PC and did backups.
    - update my blog
    - RTWPaul invited me to be interviewed for the ADVrider rider-interview sessions on the front page and so I am starting to get that done too, although it's a big job
    - and most importantly, relax and get some quality chill time.

    I did get some local advice of some good rides in the area and I might head out and do some exploration in the next day or two, will keep you posted. Just waiting for a cooler day as the daytime temps are in the high 20's and early 30's, with cold nights, typical desert weather.

    Oh and BTW, way back in Colombia I met a guy called Leonardo in Santa Ana who was doing a video series of biker-travellers and of his own journey and he interviewed me about my ride. He just got in touch and told me that this interview is now online (at least an early-unedited version),
    it's kinda interesting to watch and I seem pretty fresh and naive still.....seems like it was years ago but in reality it was only about 6 or 7 months ago, so much has happened since then. My bike, my gear and me look so clean...... :)



    And here is the first episode of his youtube series - looks really professional, I am impressed, although it is all in Spanish of course.



    So all is good in Northern Argentina, thanks all for following along.
  17. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Thanks again powderzone, your advice is right on the mark and similar to what the local have told me. I will head up the ol' gravel ruta 40 from here towards Jujuy and then probably head west from there slowly towards BA, I think I will leave Brazil until after Lisa has gone home again.

    I also just heard from Mhamed that he entered Paraguay from Brazil without a visa and managed to get one near the border at the Paraguayan consulate for just $60 USD and he is on a US passport, this was at the border town of Ponta Pora so I will probably try that on my way out of Brazil.

    Thanks again - much appreciated !
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  18. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    I've just woken up from what has now become my normal midday siesta with the horrible realisation that I've been here for a week already ! Sh1t I have to go tomorrow, where has the week gone??

    This lazy little town and has just eaten a week of my life and I never even noticed, wow, it sure is easy to fit into the groove here and a nice little groove I had too, a couple of slow coffees in the morning on the patio before the sun hits it, then of to the Panaderia for some fresh bread and croissants, pop into the deli for some cheese and salami and wander back to my retreat for a lazy morning before siesta. I would watch a doco or movie or two until the place cooled down a bit at around 5pm before heading out to get a few things done, sit in the square and have an ice cream and just people watch for an hour or two before heading out for dinner, usually the excellent empenada place La Hormita (the little oven). Then home for a quiet drink or two, a chat to Rosa the landlady and maybe a movie before bed, and repeat....

    Here's my front door about half a block from the main square.

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    The week has just flown by and I'm not sure if I am ready to leave, the daytime temps are CRAZY hot and not ideal riding weather for the next 160km of slow and bad gravel up Ruta 40 to Cachi....

    Last night was a little different with the appearance of the blood moon or Luna Rojo, which I set an alarm for to get up at it's peak at was around 2am local time, and it was spectacular.

    Here is the moon earlier in the evening.

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    Sorry about the low quality cell phone pics.... but here she is very red

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    And zoomed in to maximum

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    By far the best lunar eclipse I have ever seen, very impressive.

    So I'm not sure where or when you'll hear from me next, maybe I'll add another day or two here, or maybe I'll hit the road tomorrow - I guess we'll all see :)
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  19. Kiwi Mo

    Kiwi Mo Long timer

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    That moon was impressive down here as well. Ride safe. Mo
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  20. HiJincs

    HiJincs Dreamer Supporter

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    And here as well in the Southeast US.
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