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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Normlas, Sep 9, 2017.
So how did it go with the cats ? You must've turned them in a week !
Well I woke up feeling really good, and ready to move on, so I have slowly packed up and plan to head for Cachi today.
The weather forecast says today will be cloudy which is great news and I also just learned that Cachi is 1500 m higher than where I am now so it should be a lot cooler.
My big list of jobs is pretty much all done, I even washed out my gloves which were starting to get that glove funk, you know?
My clothes are washed, my tent and mattress are repaired and my bike is full of fuel and ready to go.
So it seems that the universe is ready for me to move on, and so am I, here I go....
It cost me quite a lot of time, cheese and salami but I got three of the six on side, and at the end two of them were happy to sit in my lap.
okay, to be fair of the two that were 'happy' to sit in my lap one was not really that happy and needed to be force -loved, but out of the six, the little gray one really was my friend at the end.
given that when I arrived I could not get within 5 meters of these little guys, I think I did really well
These suckers were feral !!
Arseclown cats. Who would have thought?
As I leave Cafayate in the morning, two thing quickly become obvious, firstly the promised cloudy and cool day was a lie and the sky is blue and the temperature is sweltering, also the promise that the road was good gravel and not sandy (I hate sand!) was also a lie as I quickly find out. The scenery however is spectacular, one of the nicest riding days I have had on the entire trip, here's a Gopro of me leaving the hotel and the town where the road is still sealed.
Beautiful desert awaits me.
The road soon turns to sandy dirt...
After a few kms of dirt I come across a tiny little town with a nice old church - straight out of an old western cowboy movie.
And I meet a cool Brazilian family who are very impressed with my adventure and invite me to come and stay with them in Brazil - score! Gracias Aloisio !
Back on the road and the scenery just keeps improving as I ride through deep rock crevices and beautiful desert.
Back on the road and an hour or so later I see an ADV biker going the other way, as I pull over to have a chat I suddenly realise I know this bike - that blue fuel tank is a give away - guess who I meet?
I thought Rolf had carried on to Bolivia but it turns out his overzealous Swiss bank had cancelled his credit card and he has to wait to get mailed a new one and way stuck in Salta for a week or more, he was just touring around the area checking it out, doing the reverse loop of what I was doing - it was great to see him again and we have a good catchup under a shady tree on the side of Ruta 40.
He is returning to Satla in two days and I should be there then too so we agree to keep in touch and try and hook up for a cold one or two.
It takes me another hour or so to get to Cachi, a medium sized town in the desert with a nice plaza, nestled at the foot of the Andes. The hotel game works out OK and I find a place on the second try thankfully as it's hot hot hot !! It's a pretty dusty little town though, this was a scene during my quick walk from the hotel to the supermercado.
And of course the plaza and the church.
This church was unique in that all the woodwork, including the lectern, the roof and the confessional were all made of cactus wood, other than rock and dust it's pretty much the only building material they had here.
Thankfully these giant cacti are all protected now and can't be touched.
Cachi is a very touristy town and there are lots of international and local tourists milling around and the prices reflect that with food being almost twice as expensive as in the not so touristy places, After checking a few restaurants out I opt for street food and munch down in the shade of the plaza and get some good people watching in.
Tortilla la parilla - cheese and salami stuffed flat breads roasted over charcoal for about 60 cents each - yum!!
Opposite the hotel it's nice to see that building and electrical standards are much higher in Argentina than the rest of South America :)
Whilst I was in Cafayate one of the other useful things I did was to join a new WhatsApp group called "MAI Argentina" and this one seems much more like the ones I have been used to in the rest of South America, I get in touch with a bunch of local people and manage to organise a biker-homestay or Motoposada for myself in Salta with a biker called Ruben. He and his mate Federico seem super friendly and Ruben agrees to meet me at the entrance of Salta the next day and guide me to his place - sounds perfect!!
The next morning I make a slow start to what has been promised to be another spectacular ride and I was not to be disappointed - another absolute winner - you were right on the mark powderzone!!
The Gopro videos of that ride are still uploading so I will end this post here and continue when they are up - some awesome photos and video to come !
Another great report, especially so as that is an area I want to ride next year.
I noticed and appreciate your riding style (from the videos) in that you slow for the corners till you can see the path and surface ahead. It's nice to see you taking such care despite (or more likely because of) the number of km's you've put on in the last year.
Stay safe and keep exploring!
Thanks ScotsFire, I appreciate the feedback, I don't really think about riding anymore, just kinda climb in the saddle and it all goes pretty much automatically. But I do think about safety and as a rider, we all take calculated risks every day and they mostly pay off, but we all also know the feeling of the odd butt-clencher when it only just works out..... I do remind myself often that I'm on a big holiday and this is all for fun, there's no hurry whatsoever.
You'll love it down here, it is absolutely beautiful and the nicest bit of Argentina in my opinion. But it is HOT, when I pulled into Salta yesterday it was 39 degrees !! In Fahrenheit that's about three and a half cats worth !
Just waiting for the last video to upload, I'll hopefully get it done tonight but we're just about to have an asado here - a big Argentinian BBQ with a bunch of bikers in my honour and Rolf is coming too, should be a blast.
Just for you buddy, lest we forget
I leave Cachi in the morning aiming for Salta and the road soon meets all the hype as I head into the high desert, here's a short video of me leaving the hotel until the first photo stop.
STUNNING desert with colourful mountains in the background, this mountain range is famous for having 10 different colours of rock.
Within an hour or so I get to a mirador or viewpoint with a small walkway into the desert and some bilingual explanatory signs, there's a few tourists buses pulled up and it just makes me think of how happy I am to be doing this on my own bike and not in a little bus with a bunch of other tourists.
The cacti are awesome.
Here is a nice folktale about the cacti (it's in English too) and it reminds me of similar stories from the Maori culture back home, a very sweet story about love and family....
Some of these giant cacti have a long history and have clearly had a few rough years.
And I LOVE the fact that there is nowhere like this in NZ !
I hit the road again and just feel great - loving this ride, I feel so free...... I'm also looking forward to what will hopefully be a cool motoposada (homestay) with a biker in Salta.
As I slowly leave the high desert and head into the mountains range between Cachi and Salta the landscape greens up a little.
And I get the standard tourist pick at the top.
Over the top of the hill and the road turns to a difficult bit of gravel with tights twists and small dusty gravel over a hard packed surface, my back wheel tries to pass my front wheel a few times but I slow right down and manage to keep the rubber side down.
It's getting towards lunchtime and I find a nice shady spot to pull over next to a small stream for a bite to eat, salami and cheese sandwiches, what else!
Here's the last bit of footage heading over the range and until the battery of the Gopro runs out.
As I reach the lower plains near Salta the temperature rises quickly and it is sweltering, at El Carill, about 30 minutes from Salta, I stop and let my host Ruben know where I am as arranged and he immediately sends me a link to where he'll be waiting for me just outside of town.
As I roll into town I accidentally miss him and drive past about 5km, when I realise I pull over and let him know and he tells me to wait for him. Just as he arrives on his bike (Yamaha Tenere 250, a very popular and capable bike here), guess who turns up - Rolf pulls into the shady buss stop where I am waiting and we catch up, damn it's a small world! He takes this snap as me and Ruben prepare to head back to his place.
When we arrive there is maybe 12 people at his place - the whole family waiting to meet me and huge feast of home made empenadas on the table - woohoo, I am very warmly received and enjoy a (second) great lunch and meet his whole family, good times are had. I just love this way of travelling and meeting locals and getting the real experience of a country and it's people.
Turns out that Ruben is a retired military officer and as soon as the evening cools he offers to take me into town for a tour in his car. The city s very busy and there is no parking, we get right to the Plaza de Armas and stop in front of the cordoned off military barracks and the guard quickly recognises Ruben, gets rid of the road cones and we have private parking in the centre of town with very well armed guards :) We stroll into the building and are welcomed by Federico, Ruben's friend and colleague who was the one that arranged Ruben's place for me. Again I am welcomed like a long lost brother. Meet the boys !
They open up the military museum for me and I get a private tour and get to play with the old guns - cool! Then we head to the Plaza some pics, here comes the photo dump.....
Here's a nice reflection of old vs new.
And it wouldn't be a proper plaza without a dead general on a horse.....Claro!
We visit the beautiful cathedral.
Oooh that marble floor !
And another reflection in time...
Looking out towards the hill overlooking the city which Ruben is about to take me up.
A second cathedral, nice light!
I love that these plazas are really well designed public spaces and people just love to come out in the evening and enjoy the cooler temperature, they almost all have free wifi, good seating, lots of trees and are kept very clean.
Oh yeah, that guy again.... :)
View of the city lights form the hill
Ruben is a widower and lives with his Mum and Dad who accept me as part of the family, they've lived in the same house for over 50 years!! Dinner is late as usual here, around 10:30 to 11pm and is a light meal of the empenadas that his mum made - they are THE local dish here and are excellent!
The next day we have a slow start and I get my blog done and a bunch of uploading - over 12 Gig of video!!
For lunch they are keen for me to try the local speciality of humidas and tamales and order them in especially - and as all the food has been in Argentina, they are excellent!
In the afternoon Ruben offers to take me into town to visit the local mummie museum which is small but very well laid out.
Back in the days of the Incas, they would chose the most beautiful children as a sacrifice, get them drunk on the local fermented maiz drink called chicha and them bury them alive on the top of the tallest mountain!! damn!!
Here's the story in English for those that are interested.
Unfortunately the best preserved mummies were not allowed to be photographed, but fair to say they were amazingly well preserved as they have remained frozen solid since the day they were put into the ground, some 500 to 700 years ago.
The other nice thing about getting to know the locals is that I get lots of questions answered, for instance; remember I mentioned the shrines with all the water bottles, well......
It seems a breast feeding young mother was lost in the desert without food and water, unfortunately she died of thirst and heat exhaustion but she put the child to her breast before she died, some time later the pair were found and the baby survived. The locals accepts this as a miracle and consider her a local Saint although the church has not officially recognised this. People leave water at these shrines, especially those in the desert as a gift/offering to this saint. Cool story!!
That evening Ruben has arranged a traditional asado (BBQ) in honour of my visit and invited a bunch of his biker mates from the club he belong to, I also ask to invite Rolf which is of course OK - all bikers are welcome!
Here are boys starting the big cook up !
Rolf arrives and is given a humida and tamali left over from lunch so he too gets to try the local speciality.
Someone say "meat slow roasting over hot coals" ??
And then we are forced to eat it all along with salads and condiments and a few beers - tough night!
We have a fantastic evening and make lots of new friends, these people are just so welcoming, we are again humbled..... muchas gracias hermanos!!
As Rolf head off we say good bye probably for the last time, but we did this once before so who knows..... the biker world is crazy small - bien viaje hermano !
The next morning and the extended family turns up again to make home made humidas from scratch, starting with corn on the cob which is peeled, the grain scratched off uncooked, then pulverised in a machine before herbs (basil), onion and spices are added - a real family affair and just lovely people, I can't get over what a nice family these people are and how they have welcomed me into their lives and into their home.
I am aiming to head to Jujuy today up Ruta 9 but am going to wait until it cools down a little, it's expected to be in the high thirties again today and it's only about a 2 hour ride.
All is awesome in Northern Argentina !!
What a great update!! Gotta love the locals making you feel right at home!!
Quilmes!!! Just saw the big bottle on the table and it brought back some nice memories. Safe travels to Buenos Aires.
Ruta 9 won’t disappoint! BRRAAAAP!
Great update from Salta. I had a similar experience when I was there - welcomed into people’s homes, fed asado, force-fed beer (okay maybe not forced).
A year ago we were sitting in Loreto having a drink. Hope you're having fun down there bud
Hey wassup Stu! Dude it's been the best year of my life !
And I aim to keep going for a while, I've just arrived in Jujuy but the story to get here took a twist, more to come soon - some great photos and video are uploading as I type.
Thanks for all the comments guys - I get a real kick out of knowing that people are enjoying my blog, as most of you know it's a quite a lot of work !!
I can attest to writing as you go is a lot of work, but we are enjoying riding SA vicariously through you.
Thank you for your continued efforts on the RR. An awesome journey and fascinating folks. Ride safe, have fun, be cool!
As the morning continues at my motoposada in Salta, the family keeps busy making the humidas, they end up making both a sweet and a savoury version. Here's grandma (actually great grandma) with all the ingredient ready to wrap into the husks of the corn they started with.
Here they are ready to be steamed.
And here we all are enjoying them - the awesomeness continues...
It's just crazy hot and it's pretty much all anyone can talk about, the airco can't keep up and we're all sweating at the table, outside it's around 40 Celsius!
After lunch I slowly start packing up when Ruben tells me that he has to go to a civil wedding of a friend of his from the military at the local registry office and asks if I want to come along, sure, why not!!
When we get there, Federico is already there and we meet and greet with the happy couple and their family.
Here's the boys sharing some wisdom with the young groom.
And the happy couple leaving the registry office surrounded by their loved ones throwing rice...
As we drive away Ruben tells me that the happy couple have invited me to the reception in the the evening and asks if I want to stay another night at his place and come to the party - hell yes I do!!
So my departure from Salta is delayed by a day, we have a relaxed afternoon siesta and later that night we head out to enjoy the festivities.
Federico and his partner are there and we get a good seat near the big open door (for ventilation, it's still crazy hot). And what are we having for dinner at an Argentinian wedding????? One guess....
Asado of course !
There's even a real live gaucho wearing the traditional Salta poncho of red and black.
Meanwhile dinner is ready to go.
After dinner traditional folklore dancers perform transitional dances from Salta and the crowd (and me) love it. The expression on the girl in reds' face is just incredible, the dancers very much respond to the crowd and the enthusiasm in the room.
Here a short video of one of the performances.
I try to capture the mood with these pics.
And here is the gaucho with his grandson.
Later in the evening the boys come out and perform a traditional Saltanese knife dance.
It's another fantastic experience with the locals and we all have a top night finishing very late.
The next day and it's sad farewells to a family that has made me so incredibly welcome for the last three days. The boys decide that they want to give me an escort out of town and four of us head out in the sweltering heat of mid-morning on a sunny summer's day in Salta.
Here's Ruben and his steed proudly showing off my sticker.
One of the boys rides ahead and makes a short video of us leaving town.
I though they were just taking me to the edge of town but it turns out my very average Spanish has let me down once again and we ride for over an hour to a large religious statue half way to Jujuy.
One of the boys has to go home but Ruben, Federico and me continue North towards Jujuy and stop about 25 kms short for some lunch at a roadside stall. Sopa de mani (peanut and chicken soup), which was excellent !
After lunch I say goodbye to Ruben and Federico and we all have tears in our eyes, it's amazing what a relationship we have formed in such a short time, humbling once again, great great people!!
I head further North into Jujuy and win the hotel game in a single swipe, it suddenly feels very quiet after being surrounded by so many lovely people for the last three days. I just get into my hotel and the skies open up with a summer storm, after chilling out for a while waiting for it to clear I head out to the local supermarket for some dinner supplies and have a quiet night in the my room reminiscing over the last three days with absolute joy and happiness.
As long as the weather is OK, tomorrow I aim to head further North towards the Bolivian border before turning East down the recommended Route 81, slowly heading towards Buenos Aires.
Thanks for coming along everyone!
sorry friend, I just realized I made the mistake of calling you Stu, you're tenere Bryan !!