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Riding North on Ruta 3

Sun rise over Ushuaia

Sun rise over Ushuaia

Endless grass lands with flamingos

Endless grass lands with flamingos

Puerto Piramides

Puerto Piramides

Puerto Piramides

Puerto Piramides

Cattle everywhere, landscape is like SW - Ontario, pasture, soybeans and corn

Cattle everywhere, landscape is like SW – Ontario, pasture, soybeans and corn

Nothing else to do in the Pampa but drink

Nothing else to do in the Pampa but drink

Eva Peron

Eva Peron

Beautiful street trees

Beautiful street trees

Obelisk, Avenida 9, de Julio

Obelisk, Avenida 9, de Julio

Ministry of Justice

Ministry of Justice

Famous Teatro Colon

Famous Teatro Colon

Eva Peron

Eva Peron

Nice architecture

Nice architecture

Gigantic Ficus Tree

Gigantic Ficus Tree

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Street cafe in Buenos Aires

Cathedral

Cathedral

Plaza del la republica

Plaza del la republica

Skyline Buenos Aires

Skyline Buenos Aires

One of many churches

One of many churches

Avenida 9, San Julio

Avenida 9, San Julio

Nice old buildings everywhere

Nice old buildings everywhere

Ever since we left Ushuaia there is nothing really exciting to report. Unfortunately we stayed at a ridiculously overprized Hostel in Ushuaia, where the staff was bitchy and we were not happy about it. For more than $US 100 we got a dirty room with a plain duvet and no cover… well we were not in the greatest shape anyway. Instead of staying 2 nights we stayed only 1 thinking that we wouldn’t do any hiking or exploring in our condition.
Apart from all this Ushuaia is a busy port and adventure hub set between the Beagle Channel and the snow-capped Martial Range. It takes full advantage of the end-of-the-world status with several cruise ships arriving daily and spilling an endless crowd of “The North Face” and “Jack Wolfskin” dressed tourists onto shore… hence the outrageous prizes everywhere. Reminded me a bit of Skagway, Alaska where there was one main show-off street like here, where the tourists bear down on, quickly buy a souvenir and then get back onto their ship.
Apparently the wages are high here, so a lot of Argentines move here and settle, so an increase of housing developments is visible advancing in the few directions the mad geography allows. There seems to be a bit of small town culture left, I do hope it will not totally disappear.
So we packed up and left the next day. I was partly sad having stayed only one night but I was also annoyed at being so exploited and on top of it all I or we both lacked the energy to do more. We drove back to Rio Grande and got a room back at the Hostel “Argentino”, where we stayed before. I think the owner wasn’t too happy about it, because the first thing he told me was, that his wife was now sick as well. Ops, I did feel a little sorry, since she was also pregnant. I took the time to get another hair cut (at the Salon the owner had recommended!) while Heinz was still nursing his cold.
Next day we returned to the Chilean border driving in sunny but cold and again very windy conditions. This time we were following the east coast of Argentina but had to cross the Strait of Magallanes one more time with a ferry that only took half an hour. There was also another border to cross again at Monte Aymond to get back into Argentina. We made it to Rio Gallegos late in the afternoon on that day. The riding wasn’t very pleasant, we found a Hostel but had to walk quite a bit to get to downtown for food. The mood was bad, we were going on each other’s nerves and … that’s how our “Valentine’s Day” dinner looked like! Lovely!! Then we had to walk back in pouring rain and were soaking wet arriving back at our Hostel. This is how Valentine’s Day should not look like! But we still love each other!! Ha,ha there are always days like that!
Following the Ruta 3 north is the most boring ride ever. Not a single tree, flat like a table for miles and miles, straight road as far as you can see, the odd Guanaco, sheep or cow…that’s it. Not even worth taking a picture! So for staying overnight we just picked a bigger town on the way. Next one was Puerto San Julian, also known for the town where Magellan first landed in 1520 and for a long booming Sheep wool Industry. We found a decent Hotel right at the Bahia San Julian (yeah and clean sheets!).
Next day: more kilometers on the boring Ruta 3 with no change in landscape. This time we made it to just past Comodoro Rivadavia, not a pretty town surrounded by dry hills of drilling rigs, oil tanks and wind energy farms. This time we found a small Hostel outside of town, with a friendly owner who proudly showed us his bike! It was a small Hostel and later in the day a young couple with their son from Punta Arenas joined us. Together with the husband, who started the “asado” grill in the kitchen, I got a little introduction in how to grill meat on that one. First you grill with coals, the grill is usually waist high and made of bricks, slanted runners funnel the excess fat to the sides to avoid flare ups, and an adjustable height system directs the perfect amount of heat to the meat. This is really a skill you learn only in Argentina.
Anyway, we reached Puerto Piramides on the Valdes Peninsula. We came to see if we can catch a glimpse of either some orcas or the little Magellan Pinguines, which were on the North end of the Peninsula. This time we decided to camp at the municipal Campground of the village. The next day the weather was gloomy with thick clouds and drizzle. There was 80km of dirt road in front of us to get to those animals. We thought we just gave it a shot but turned back, because it was raining heavier and the road was tricky with sand that was covered by gravel and we were slipping and sliding. We had no choice but spending all day in our tent. It was raining and there was nowhere else to go! Next day the dirt road was a muddy affair so we abandoned the whole idea and left. So sad, I would have loved to see them!
So, guess what?? More flatlands and wind was waiting for us! By the end of the day though before we reached the town of Viedma the landscape all of a sudden turned into agricultural land with pastures and big cattle herds and cornfields. Ahh what a nice change! Heinz mentioned that it looked like in Chatham-Kent county! In Viedma it took us a while to find some accommodation and we finally settled for (another!) shitty Hotel with moldy bathroom, damp sheets and… very used mattress! By then we didn’t care too much anymore! Heinz was pretty pissed because after trying to get some money out of the ATM machine it took 5 different banks to finally get some cash. This is really an Argentina thing!! Very annoying!!!
Another day of riding brought us to Tres Arroyos, a mid-sized town close to Buenos Aires and yesterday we finally reached the Nation’s Capital. By then the weather turned really hot and humid and about 34-35C. First thing was to stop at Dakar Motors, an office that we had contacted before to give us a quote for sending our bikes back. According to their website they were supposed to have accommodation as well as a shop where Heinz was hoping to do another oil change on both of our bikes.
Well, first of all they moved their location 2 month ago, when we finally found them, they had only a small garage, no shop and certainly no accommodation, let alone a tire for Heinz’ bike. Big disappointment, and the “ballpark” quote they gave us was twice as high as the one we got for Santiago. So that’s not going to happen, but apart from all this they were a nice couple.
Okay, again we drove around trying to find a Hostel with appropriate parking, which wasn’t easy. We found a Hostel (The Art Factory) situated in an old colonial building near San Telmo pretty downtown, but had to find a parking garage nearby and pay extra for that. Today I dragged Heinz around the City, because I wanted to do some sightseeing. I know this is not Heinz’ thing especially when its hot, but he tried to put on a brave face. So Teatro Colon, the Obelisk, Casa Rosada, Microcentro ( business center) etc. we walked for several hours in the heat and got a good taste of the atmosphere. It is a European-like city with attractive residents, gourmet cuisine, awesome shopping and a frenzied nightlife. There are still beautiful colonial houses, some of them in great shape some of them need a good make over. The sidewalks are pretty dirty with dog poop everywhere, many people smoke… reminding me a bit of Paris in the 70’s. I will definitely want to see a bit more tomorrow before we leave on Wednesday to head further north.
Feli

One thought on “Riding North on Ruta 3

  1. Curlie and Jan

    hola from a little cafe in Guanajuato . We are here for 2 weeks and really enjoying this unique historical and very hilly town with lots to see and do . I am having to use my Spanish much more than usual which is great . In a few days we will do a side trip to San Miguel .

    Glad to hear that all is well – sorry to hear about Valentines !! But it does make you both quite human !!

    Lots of love to you both, Juanita

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