May 18, 2010

Out of the mud, but still no decent internet connection

This will be a post without pictures.  I was stuck in Lomitas till
this AM but now I am in sunny Juyjuy Argentina  and if all goes well,
Chile tomorrow.

It was sunny and warm when I left Uruguay, as it turned out there was
a bridge, so no boat crossing.  That night I stopped in Fontana, a
tiny town in Argentina´s Formosa province.  The land is flat, marshy
and covered with low bushes and mosquitos.  It looks as if it was once
farmland, but not anymore.  Fontana looks like it is heading for ghost
town status, empty buildings some of them falling down.  I asked where
the hotel was, and a kind person led me there.  There is no sign on it
to indicate it is a hotel.  This turned out to be typical for this
area.  I got a nice room but very basic.

The next morning it was pissing down rain, but I figured what the
heck, I will just keep riding until I am out of it.  It only took
about 20 km to realize I had made a big mistake. My Jacket and gloves
work good in light rain, but this downpour was beyond their abilities.
 I stopped in a gas station to wait out the rain, but after 3 hours it
was still raining, so I carried on.  About 60 km down was a restaurant
so I stopped to eat, warm up and get dry.

I pulled back on the road and rode for quite a distance, as the rain
had let up a bit and the temperature had warmed up a bit too.  Another
town appeared in front of me, Ibaterra.  The only problem was,
Ibattera is about 20 km from Fontana, where I had left that morning.
When I had left the restaurant I had gone the wrong way.  Pretty much
most of the day was shot by this time, I had travelled over 200 km in
cold, wet, miserable weather to get 20 km from where I left.  I was
not going back to Fontana, so big U turn and head back the right way.

In case anybody was wondering how I could make such a dumb mistake,
just imagine you are out on the prairie, you can´t see the sun and the
landscape looks the same in all directions.  The only thing different
here is the vegetation, and it is not that different, it looks similar
to parkland where wolf willow is the dominant plant.  As far as you
can see.

My gas was getting low, so I pulled off at the next gas station.  I
had to go about 100 meters on a dirt access road, which had turned to
mud.  All forward motion ceased as the tires loaded up with sticky
mud.  I headed for the grass, but got stuck in the ditch.  When the
KTM gets stuck I have to unload everything and skid the bike out on
its side, as the wheels get buried and bike sinks into the soft stuff.
 After mudwresting bike, then the baggage into the gas station I
discover that there was a paved entry into the gas station further up.
 I also blew the fuse that controls the speedometer, turn signals and
brake lights. Fortunately I still had headlights and ignition.

When I got to Lomitas, the place where I originally went the wrong
way, I figured enough was enough and headed into town.  I had to ask
where the hotel was, I was standing in front of it.  It looked as if
it was under construction and not finished yet, which turned out to be
true.  Nevertheless they had a room.

The next day it was raining just as hard, but I had learned my lesson.
 I decided to stay put, fix the fuse problem and wait for the rain to
stop.  While taking the bike of the center stand (in the mud), it fell
over and I broke off the left side mirror, a fine end to this episode.
 Fortunately Argentina has excellent cable TV (800% better than the
crap we get),  including HBO in English with Espanol subtitles.  So I
had a day of rest and relaxation after the fuse was replaced.  The
mirror will have to wait for a KTM dealer.

The next morning looked just as grim as the last two, but the rain had
stopped.  I got out of there as fast as I could.  All along the way I
could see the mess, water everywhere, all the secondary roads are
dirt, every town looked like a World War I battlefield.  BUT the sun
was showing on the horizon, and the farther I went the sunnier it got.
 At least I could see that I made the right decision to stop when I
did, (woulda been better if I had never left Fontana). I made 600 km
today, and all of it had seen the same rain.  SO did I learn my
lesson? ..... maybe :-)

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