Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Leaving Corrientes – Riders on the Storm and Back to Rosario

Yesterday Fletch was feeling a lot better, but unfortunately his bike is not.  Its burning a lot of oil so he needs to get it to a specialised mechanic that understands bikes.  This means heading for Buenos Aires and a lot of money leaving his pocket.  I still have no definite plans so I thought I would join him the first 800km until Rosario.  Its been a while since I’ve been there afterall!  Brasil can wait a bit longer.  The last night in Corrientes we had a bit of a party with the whole family and Fletch and I bought a huge sickly cake that went down well with all.  We said bye to Rebeka that night as she sleeps during the day but Jorge was there to see us off in the morning.  I’m going to miss the old boy, he reminds me of my granddad a lot!

We set off in convoy and stopped to get petrol.  This took some time as there was a fuel shortage and we were trying to get our Jerry cans filled too.  They wouldn’t do it so we had to leave without any spare petrol.  As we headed out of the city I saw the familiar flashing lights in my mirrors.  I hoped they would pass me but no, I was pulled over by another Argentine policeman and Fletch kept on going.  We'd previously agreed if one of us is stopped the other should head on and wait out of sight to prevent problems for both.  It was pretty funny as for a moment there was a moving mime act to establish who had to pull over.
I went through the motions of showing my papers and waited for what my supposed infraction was.  Unbeknown to me I had turned into the petrol station through a red light.  I don’t think this is entirely correct as I had already turned when the light went red.  The most annoying thing is the policemen waited 15 minutes until we were clear of the busy petrol station and well down the road to pull me over.  The reason as always was the bastard wanted money.  I tried to argue my point, but he kept saying it was a US$400 fine and I had to withdraw the money right then.  I knew it was complete rubbish and I played dumb and told him all my cards and money was with Fletch.  After a 20 minute standoff I started to get tired so I pretended to find some money and said I could give him $20 dollars now.  I should insist on the papers from them next time and call their bluff, but its always so tiring dealing with corrupt police.  As some consolation though, while he sheepishly looked around to check no one was watching him take the money, I swapped the crisp $20 for a grubby $10, folded it up and put it in his hand and then rode off haha. 

The rest of the morning was without incident and I did my usual "trying to keep up with Fletch" riding.  As the day wore on the dark clouds started to get really ominous.  I’ve been lucky not to have any rain in 5000kms, but there was going to be no escaping this time, so after a fuel stop I dug out my waterproof jacket and dodgy 2nd hand skipants I'd bought in Santiago.  The land is very flat in this part of the world and we could see both fronts of cloud rushing in to converge right above our heads.   Soon after this epicly loud thunder started, followed by lightning strikes that were landing on both sides of the road.  Fletch had stopped to sort out his oil so I carried on on my own.  I’ve never seen this and at one point a bolt touched down 200m to my left.  It was quite eerie as there was nothing around, no people, cars, houses, just flar land in all directions.  As the rain started to come down I was trying to work out how safe I would be if I was hit by the lightning.  I figured the rubber tyres would save me, so I decided to ride on.  I still don’t know if that is correct?  Tormenta is the name for a storm in Spanish and it really applied.  The rain became harder and harder and then the wind picked up, blowing the rain from the side.  I was riding in a straight line, but fighting with the wind at my side, the bike hung at 45 degrees and I had hardly any visability.  It was pretty grim so I was forced to stop at a house and ask a farmer if I could shelter under the porch.
The happy view from the porch
I was in a pretty drowned state by the time Fletch turned up.  My whole bottom half was wet.  My boots have gaps in the soles and I discovered my skipants have holes burnt in them from being stored in the saddlebag close to the exhaust and also have a poorly placed rip in the crotch area!  If that wasn't bad enough, my gloves seemed to absorb a litre of rain each and while I was waiting for Fletch to turn up, the area where I left my helmet became flooded so my helmet was underwter too haha..  A really impressive storm that.  Still it was not as bad as what happened to Fletch later.  
Bit wet like

When the storm died down a bit we rode on.  I couldn’t get any wetter so it didn’t matter to me.  Fletch in his professional clothes was toasty warm so he was ok too.  We eventually arrived in La Paz after another 400+km day and went to find the campsite.  Somehow we lost each other in the tiny town and I rode aound for nearly an hour trying to find him.  By the time it was dark I went back to the campsite to wait for him.  He turned up later covered in thick mud to tell me that he had gone down a track close to the river to get some photos.  This had been a massive mistake as the mud had turnt to slick in the rain and he had dropped the bike.  He had to walk back to a house and get some help to lift the bike.  Both him and the bike were clogged up hahaha.  The campsite was a quadmire – nice word hey, so we asked if we could camp in the BBQ area which was concrete and had a canopy above.  We were pretty knackered by then so we didn’t bother with the tents.  A good decision until the rain blew in sideways in the middle of the night.  Anyway I think you get the picture of how well we slept that night.
The result of a day riding in the storm, me soaked through and Fletch covered in mud after falling off the bike.

Got to love ending the day wring the water from all your clothes
The slightly exposed campsite, with everything I own drying out.

The next day the bad weather was over, and other than having to put on my wet clothes again nothing bad was going to stop me getting to Rosario.  For some reason though the distance was longer then the maps yet again and no matter how many Kms we covered the roadsigns kept saying the same distance! It seemed to go on and on.  Although compared to the day before this was nothing.  Entre Rios Province by the way is all cattle, rivers, islands and bridges and after 300 or so kms the only thing I wanted to see was the last bridge.  Its not difficult to find, its massive as it needs to cross the huge River Parana.  Crossing it was a huge relief, the journey was almost over and looking over to the left we could see the sun reflecting off the skyscrapers in my favourite city – Rosario.

Entre Rios: Cattle, rivers, islands and bridges, cattle, rivers, islands and bridges, Ok the cattle are hiding in this one, but trust me they are everywhere.
Crossing the river into Rosario.  Picture from Fletchs camera - need to get the original sin the funky messed up formating

1 comment:

  1. There is sunshine after the rain. I think this is what best describes your journey. The weather did turn out better for you the next day, despite the bad weather you had to go through the first day. You were pretty lucky you found a shelter to take a nap and dry your wet clothes! I’m pretty sure you will both never forget this bittersweet journey you had.