April 30, 2010
Ruta 34 may be the straightest road I have ever been on, the only one that comes close is the Trans Canada from Calgary to Winnipeg, and that one falls short by about 400 klicks.
Ruta 34 is two lane all the way, what makes it 'interesting' is that it is used by big trucks with a speed limit of 80 kmh ordinary traffic with a speed limit of 120 (!!!) along with motos of the 125 cc variety and everything else in between. It confirms my prejudice that the straighter a road the more dangerous it is. For Edmonton area folks, imagine the stretch of 2A highway between Wetaskiwin and Ponoka being 1300 km long and you will get the idea of what the last two days have been like. At least three times I have been hard on the brakes and aiming for the ditch because some nitwit decided he needed to pass 4 or 5 long trucks at once. I need to know whether driving an SUV makes you stupid, or do you need to prove you are stupid before they will sell you one?
I suspect there are more than a few drunks on the road as well. 'No maneje con bebia' signs are all over the place. There are frequent police 'check stops' or something as well. They randomly choose who they are going to pull over, and want to know where you are from and where you are going. At one, the policeman asks me if I have been drinking, he is in a really jovial mood, when I say no, he asks me if I think he has been drinking, I smile and indicate I don't speak Español, but he seemed in a really good mood for a cop ta me.
Oh, for those who have been wondering, thanks to Tucuman KTM's Ing. Raul A. Becker and his technicians, the KTM has new oil, filters and a non leaking fork and is ready for more new adventures.
I stop for lunch in a small town, it is definitely fall in Argentina. They seem to have the same green ash trees we have all over Edmonton, but these ones go yellow in Mayo instead of Octubre. (its the day length ya know).
It is siesta naturally, so everything is closed except the restaurant at the bus terminal. It turns out to be an excellent choice. I sit down and the young man running it tells me his rode his 50 cc bike to Ushaia, and hauls out the pictures to prove it. We have as good a converstation as my poor Spanish permits and soon are joined by a crowd of regulars. It seems that everybody really likes motos in Argentina, so I had a lot of questions to answer.
I order something that turns out to be a steak, which is your basic staple food item in Argentina. Steak is served on a plate by itself, bread and your choice of fritas or ensalada is served separately. Let me just say that you have not had a steak until you have had it here in Argentina, Alberta beef notwithstanding.
Ruta 34 is straight for the same reason the Trans Canada in the prairies is straight. This part of Argentina is billiard table flat. It is also an area of large farms and tractors bigger than houses, making it look just like the prairies or more like the midwestern US, as the crops are corn and soybeans that I can recognize. The towns look like midwestern towns as well with large leafy trees lining wide downtown streets of substantial stone buildings that look to be about 1920's vintage. The bus stop cafe where I had lunch could also be the 'cafe' or chinese restaurant where everybody who is everybody in town hangs out.
I am holed up for the night in San Nicolas, a large city about 200 klicks from Buenos Aires. I find an excellent hotel for 110 pesos, which is about 30 bucks, so to celebrate I go to El Centro and find a good restaurant and let the waiter order for me. Naturally I end up with a steak, but what a steak, the waiter asks if I want wine, but of course! Red wine, Argentinian, excellent, the whole bottle is a bit much so my fellow diners get some too. Check it out, that is not a birthday cake under those two eggs, that is the steak. To die for, it all came to less than 20 cdn. bucks.