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Monday, June 30, 2014

Snow Storms, Final Border Crossing, Crazy Parties | Bienvenidos a Argentina!!!

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Friday morning I woke up and made my usual trip to the border police station to see what the conditions were on Jama Pass into Argentina.  To my surprise, the police and truckers told me it was open and that I should "go now!" as another storm was predicted the next day.  I'd spent a few days longer than expected in San Pedro de Atacama, so didn't hesitate, bolted back to the hotel, packed, and headed out at 10am sharp.  That town is great, and the riding around is spectacular, but expensive.  

The ride up and out of SPdA was cold, but not horrible.  However, by the time I made the border I was really feeling it.  The wind was brutal and the temps hovered around 30F.  Everything at the Jama border into Argentina is seemingly efficient.  Migracion and aduana for both countries are lined up all next to each other in four windows.  The only frustrating part was that two gringo cattle buses arrived just before me, so the wait was around an hour before reaching the first window.  I asked if I could go ahead of them, as it wouldn't delay them more than a few seconds, but the Argentinian border police dude wasn't havin' it.  He made me get in the back of the line.  Fokker.  Anyway, I wasn't too fussed as there was heat in the building.  

After the border it was flat, cold, and windy.  However, I was smiling in my helmet as I'd just crossed the 14th, and final border of my journey.  Nice to see new places, but entering and exiting countries with a vehicle is a pain in the arse.  Whatever, just a CODB (cost of doing business) I guess.  I was headed for Purmamarca as I'd heard it was a nice little town.  Just before Purma there is a mountain you need to climb up and over.  It's beautiful, you ride through the salt flats, and then the mountain appears out of nowhere.  Problem was, about halfway up a snowstorm was blanketing the entirety.  My GPS showed 22 miles remaining for Purma.  That was the absolute WORST 22 miles of riding I've had on this trip, and in my entire life.  Fog, wet snow, and temps dropped to 5F!  My visor froze over so I had to ride with it open.  It was slow going around 10mph and I couldn't see $hit.  The tears rolling out of my eyes were freezing so I had to reach in and pry my eyelids open every 15 or 20 seconds.  Really, really brutal.  To make matters worse, there was ice on the road and a truck jackknifed directly in front of me.  I stopped to make sure he was fine, and continued on.  Once I dropped down the other side, the storm cleared and I was in Purma.  Thank God!  

Purma was nice for a night.  I met two young American birds at the hostel and we chatted for a bit.  I ended up having dinner and a few glasses of decent wine with Maggie, from Wisconsin, but studying in Buenos Aires at present.  I'll link up with her when I arrive there in a couple of weeks.  From Purma I took Rte 9 to Salta, which was amazing!  The road was the width of a sidewalk, but is heavily trafficked so can get a bit sketchy around bends.  I decided to stay at Loki Hostel here.  For those who don't know, Loki, Wild Rover, and The Point are all party hostel chains/brands.  I was hesitant to stay, but they have a promotion at present where you stay for free (FREE!).  That, plus ample bike parking made me decide to check it out, and am really glad I did.  There is a great group of 15 - 20 of us that all get on really well.  The past two nights were massive parties w/ beer pong, dancing, loud music, and general misbehavior (oh, and a LOT of Blood Bomb shots).  I met a nice girl named Raquel from Brazil on break from studying medicine, we hung out and enjoyed each other's company.  

This morning I made the short trip over to the BMW dealership in town.  I picked up a filter and three liters of oil and the fokkers charged me almost $70USD!  Seriously, what's up with BMW dealerships?  I've grown to despise the majority of em (some are great, don't get me wrong).  Anyway, I was hungover from the Beer Pong World Cup last night, so just bent over, handed over my credit card, and took it gently up the arse. Couldn't be bothered to track down the supplies elsewhere.  When I got back to the hotel I wrenched on the bike for a bit, changed the oil/filter, and made sure everything is buttoned up.  The bike just turned over 20k miles, so I figured it was in need of some 'love'.  The only thing that's bothering me a bit is an engine rattling noise that's come up as of late.  Only lasts for a few seconds.  A quick roll of the throttle seems to level it out and everything goes back to normal.  Cam chain?  No clue...  Hoping it's nothing. 

I'll be here for one more night, then plan to head south with a general plan to get to Cordoba.  My buddy Andrew Palmer, a strapping Brit I met in Cartagena doing several years on a bike, has linked me up with a group of riders there.  I'll hang in Cordoba for a few days riding, exploring, drinking wine, and getting in trouble with Andy's mates.  I have a nice route planned with some great riding and scenery, with the help of Andrew and John Hill (Andy's buddy in Cordoba).  From there I'll take it slow and easy to BA.  

I guess that's it for now...  Enjoy the pics.  I'll post up more soon.  

~ D

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