Nov 19th - Dec 13th 2009

Argentina Cont.

 

19/11/2009

Start Mileage - 20502

Miles - 229

Villa General Belgrano (Albergue El Rincon) - Realico (Municipal Campsite)

We’re moving! Packed up and on the road around 11:00. We stopped at Rio Cuatro for lunch and fuel. We were instructed to get off the bike whilst the attendant filled it - has Health & Safety reached Argentina? There was a huge campervan on the pump next to us, and Lorraine went off to talk to them. The lady was obviously very proud of her van and pushed Lorraine inside for a guided tour. She eventually emerged, and I was relieved that she had not been kidnapped. We were about to get going again when I was shoved inside for the tour also.

We found a campsite at Realico. It was a bit muddy due to the recent hailstorm that they had, but not too bad. We pitched up by the electricity socket and watched one of the new films from Guy.

 

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20/11/2009

Start Mileage - 20731

Miles - 113

Realico (Municipal Campsite) - Santa Rosa (Parque Don Tomas)

The only showers in use were the ladies. As we were the only two on site it wasn’t a problem. Lorraine heard a man’s voice when she was in the shower, yelled at him and he disappeared. I went for a shower after her, and the workman were ripping it apart - too late!

We got on the road and stopped at Eduardo Castex for lunch and fuel. A chap handed me a leaflet for a bike show in a couple of weeks time. It looked good, but was back up north, so we will have to give it a miss.

We reached Santa Rosa around 15:00 and found the campsite no problem. This one had a ladies and a gents shower with hot water. Headed for a shower once we had pitched the tent, and aargh only a dribble came out - not enough to dance under! Free electricity available but only one socket, on a lamp post in the middle of the camping area.

 

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21-24/11/2009

Santa Rosa (Parque Don Tomas)

21/11/2009 - We have been having trouble with the intercoms. Mine has volume only through one ear and Lorraine’s is crackling, so I stripped them down for repair. Success on both! The campsite was within a WiFi Zone, so did a bit on the net. We wandered into town with the washing to find a laundrette - all closed at weekends.

22/11/2009 - Peaceful morning, then around midday, the site started to fill up with day visitors. It seems to be the done thing here at weekends; pack up the family, some beef, a ball, and the house stereo system and head off to disturb the travellers. Dined out tonight on a nice pizza. The waitress asked if we wanted a four piece or eight piece. Lorraine went for four which on hindsight was the sensible option, as I struggled to finish my eight! There are lots of stray dogs in Argentina, and a young Alsatian followed us back to the campsite. It just wanted to play. When we went to bed, it lay down outside the tent on guard all night.

23/11/2009 - Very windy and looks like rain this morning, so we delayed the decision to move till we see what the weather does. We decided to stay another night and go to a laundrette. The dog followed us back in to town. We did try to lose it a couple of times, as we thought it unfair if we feed it while we are here, but then where does it get fed? It wasn’t stupid though, it found us. As we passed a vets, it shot round the corner and lay down by the door. Think it was a dog version of a soup kitchen. Managed to get the laundry in, and we had to return later to collect. Lorraine had to escort me to the ladies shower and stand on guard, I was getting desperate!

24/11/2009 - Planned to move on today, but it was a wet start. We checked the weather report, and it said ‘chance of thunderstorm’. It was an almighty storm. The campsite turned in to a swimming pool, and the tent was actually floating with the amount of water passing under it. Needless to say, we stayed put. Fortunately we were dry inside the tent, only a few damp spots. It didn’t stop till late evening and we did not fancy trekking out for supplies. There is a rotisserie just outside the camp, so we ordered a take-away. We had no idea what we ordered, our Spanish has not improved that much, but it was delicious.

 

25/11/2009

Start Mileage - 20844

Miles - 230

Santa Rosa (Parque Don Tomas) - Bahia Blanca (Camping Balneario Maldonado)

It is dry this morning, so we’ll move. Heading for Bernasconi, about a two hour ride. When we got there, it was a pretty village, very clean, but no camping. So we carried on towards Bahia Blanca. I spotted a few Tarantulas on the road, Lorraine not too keen for a closer look. Had a bit of trouble finding the campsite in Bahia Blanca - the sat nav says it is there but we can’t find it. We asked at a petrol station and they told us the nearest was 100Kms away. We were getting desperate as it was late in the evening now. So we gave the sat nav one last chance, looked right when she said left, and found it - just round the corner from the petrol station!! Not a bad site, and it was free! A Dutch couple and a French couple pulled in shortly after us. The chap on the gate knew we did not speak Spanish, and asked them to find out if we were comfortable and to move to the carport if it started raining.

 

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26-30/11/2009

Bahia Blanca (Camping Balneario Maldonado)

26/11/2009 - Lorraine went off for a shower - and came back shivering. They do have facilities for hot water - but not out of season. We sorted out the music we got from Guy and watched the wildlife in the park. The birds are very colourful. There are young in a hole in the tree just by us, and the mother flew back and forth all day feeding them. No internet here, so we went into town for a café with internet.

27/11/2009 - Another thunderstorm in the afternoon, but it didn’t last too long. We need to source decent wet weather gear to put on top of our bike suits. Some young locals pitched their tent in the afternoon and made plenty of noise till 03:30!!

28/11/2009 - A huge camper van pulled in today, it just made it under the trees. Brits, two brothers, Howard and Mervyn, travelling South America in style! Around midday, the site filled up with local day trippers again. Three of them in competition with their stereos volume buttons. We couldn’t stand the noise and went into town. We were low on Camping Gaz, but have difficulty finding it here but found a very helpful outdoor shop who sold us a Coleman stove - dual fuel and decent wet weather gear. Now all we need is a tube to siphon the petrol from the bike.

We had to book ahead for our accommodation over the Christmas period and got confirmation from our chosen hotel today. Further south will be a lot colder, so camping not an option. We also have to pay ahead by bank transfer, that will be fun. We’ll leave that for another day. The day trippers were just packing up as we returned, so only the young ones in the tent left, who kept the noise up till 03:30 again.

29/11/2009 - A fairly dull day today. The young crowd in the tent were packing up, so looking forward to a quieter night with just us, the French couple and the Brits left.

30/11/2009 - Off to town to try this bank transfer. Very confusing in the bank, you take a ticket at the door, then join the appropriate queue. The ticket machine had about 20 options and we did not have a clue! We found a nice assistant (who spoke very good English) and she walked us through the process. Easy when you know how!

We had been told that Wal-Mart sell Coleman fuel, so we headed there. It was in a large shopping centre just out of town. The car park was empty, so we pulled up by the door. A security guard told us to move to the bike park away at the other side. We tried to argue, would have been different if the car park was busy, but he wouldn’t have any of it. So we moved to the bike park. The entrance was so small, we couldn’t get in! It is designed for mopeds only. No fuel, but we did get a tube to siphon the petrol. Still very windy when we got back to camp. Howard and Mervin, the two Brits, invited us in to their luxurious van out of the wind. We sat in the leather armchairs for a couple of hours chatting and looking enviously at the full size cooker, microwave, TV…….

 

01/12/2009

Start Mileage - 21124

Miles - 75

Bahia Blanca (Camping Balneario Maldonado) - Pedro Luro (Camping Don Basco)

Shall we move on or shall we not? Although a pleasant campsite and town, we were in great need of a hot shower. So we decided to move to Pedro Luro. Not very far, so only got on the road about midday. Just fuelling up at the first petrol station after we left and Lorraine says - Oh look, there is another GSA, and another, and another. About 12 of them, all Brits, pulled in for a lunch stop. We stopped for coffee and chatted. They were an organised group, globebusters.com, with a support vehicle and had been in Argentina and Chile for the past 5 weeks, heading home soon. They were lucky on the Ruta 40 and had no wind or rain. Several of the bikes were somewhat ’bruised’ though. Looks like we have some tough roads ahead!

We eventually arrived on our short trip to Pedro Luro around 14:30. No sign of any campsites. We parked up pondering what to do when a helpful chap came over to admire the bike. He gave us directions to a site by a river. It is a lovely site with beautiful HOT showers. Pitched the tent and in to the village for supplies and internet. Had a BBQ and a very pleasant evening.

 

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02-03/12/2009

Pedro Luro (Camping Don Basco)

02/12/2009 - We had drizzly rain all day. Lorraine not feeling 100% today, so we didn’t venture far. We couldn’t get to the shops for supplies - didn’t want to get our new wet weather gear wet! Stocked up on crisps and biscuits from the shop on site. Sat in the tent waiting for the rain to stop, we both dozed off and woke up too late to do anything about food except finish the crisps and biscuits!

03/12/2009 - A sunny, dry day today. Only 100 miles or so to Viedma so we are still in no rush, we’ll stay here another day as it’s so nice.

Into town for some supplies for tonight, another Asado. Trying to find a small bag of sugar (so we don't have to keep pinching the individual sachets from cafes) is proving to be not so easy, all the bags we have seen are way to big for us to pack, until the shopkeeper sees our problem and just splits a bag for us. We bought some nice looking chorritzo sausage but they turned out to be tough skinned and full of fat, tasty but I could only manage to eat two and a half of the four so the dogs dined well again.

 

04/12/2009

Start Mileage - 21207

Miles - 115

Pedro Luro (Camping Don Bosco) - HUBB Meeting at El Condor (Los Trentinos)

Woke up to blaring music at 08:00 this morning, coming from the school next to the campsite. It is the start of the Christmas holiday today and they are having a sort of parents day, luckily it doesn't go on too long.

Another slow pack. I made the decision to bin the front inner tube we have been carrying since Ghana as it takes up so much room, was that a bad choice?? Time will tell.

Left the campsite at around 12:30 and two minutes down the road ran into another group of bikes from the same tour company as the last lot, this second group tho’ have been on the road 5 months and ridden from Alaska to Ushuaia, I don’t think we will be going that fast.

14:00 and we are back on the road to Viedma and getting our first taste of the Patagonia winds, not too bad but we had a couple of gusts that took us by surprise, and were getting a bit sand blasted at times.

Found the campsite easily enough, about 30Km’s outside of Viedma, right on the seafront but sheltered from the wind. There were two tents on site when we got there, not sure if they are other bikers coming for the meeting as we couldn't see any tyre tracks. Just as we finished putting the tent up two bikes pulled in, a German family, mum dad and two girls. They are moving south tomorrow, but coming back for the meeting, we’ve decided we will just stay put now until the meeting.

 

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05-13/12/2009

El Condor HUBB Meeting (Los Trentinos)

05/12/2009 - The German family are off today, they were packed up and ready to go by lunchtime. We are glad to see that we aren't the only people to make slow getaways!

We are the only people on the campsite now, very quiet. A slow day around the campsite and a wander into the village. Just after we got back from the village we heard a couple of cars turn up, then a few more, and then more. With our past experience of Argentine campers, we are expecting things to get a bit loud very quickly. And it did, although not with boogie boxes blaring out, but at least 40 kids from 2 - 10 year olds and their 20 school teachers. We spoke with one of the teachers and when she found out we were English she brought a load of the kids over to talk with us, an impromptu English and geography lesson for them. We talked with them for 30 minutes, they were enjoying speaking English and taking the mickey out of our Spanish. After that they weren't shy in coming over to talk to us, especially when we had the laptop out and they wanted to see our pictures. Lots more running around the site during the evening until they finally went to bed at around 01:00. Hopefully they have worn themselves out and we might get a quiet morning.

06/12/2009 - Wrong ….. 08:00 they are all up and running around again, mostly just outside our tent!

The kids are here for their lunch and moving off in the afternoon, think it will be an early night for us.

With the kids still running around we decided to take a walk to the Parrot colony and the oldest working lighthouse in Patagonia, just along the shore from the site. The largest colony of Burrowing Parrots in the world with 35,000 active nests along the 10 Km stretch of cliffs that they nest in. The noise was incredible with Parrots flying around everywhere or perching along the telegraph lines, not much sign of them on the roads though, toilet trained perhaps??

07/12/2009 - Bloody Parrots, 05:00 and they are flying about making more noise than yesterday and mostly over our tent by the sounds of it.

A ride out to Carmen de Patagones and Viedma, two old towns built up on opposite banks of the Rio Negro. After a nice ride along the river we headed into Viedma town for a coffee while we waited for siesta time to finish and the shops to re-open. While we were having our coffee we got talking to a German couple (Tony and Ina) who were in Viedma for the meeting but waiting for Tony’s bike to get fixed before heading to the campsite, 3 hours later we decided we had better make a move before the shops shut again. Fuelled up and stocked up we go back to the site. Another two bikes have showed up, Brian and Marie from Canada & Andy and Maya from UK and Holland. Spent a nice evening with them, listening to the Parrots heading home and crashed out at 01:00.

08/12/2009 - 05:00 and it’s Parrot time again.

Just hanging around the campsite for the morning chatting with the others. The organisers of the meeting, Oscar and his wife Nancy turned up, they say that they have had 20 bookings from the HUBB so far for the weekend so they are expecting a good turnout, they also had some bad news about a couple of travellers that are known to some of the others. Ken and Carol Duval from Australia have had an accident caused by a front tyre blow out after a tyre change in Bolivia. Carol is a bit bruised but Ken has a broken collar bone, shoulder blade and possibly fluid in the lung, they won’t be making it to the meeting.

The Asado for Saturday isn't confirmed yet but Oscar has a meeting with the owner of a local Estancia today to arrange that.

13:00 we head out for a 36Km ride along the coast road to the worlds largest Sea Lion colony, two worlds largest in such a small place. The first part of the road is good tarmac then it turns to potholes and for the last 3 Km’s it’s Ripio (gravel), not the gravel we are used to, more like marbles. Not nice. We had a good hour and a half at the seals before heading back. The wind has picked up a lot with a lot of dust in the air, it’s difficult to cook without the dust blowing into the food and eating outside is definitely not the plan. The others all went to bed earlyish after the late night last night so we watched a movie and drank too much wine.

09/12/2009 - Suffering this morning, but at least I never heard the Parrots!

Spent the day looking at maps and other peoples routes. Brian is cooking up tonight, Cincinnati Pasta, a spicy Spag Bol with chocolate. More new arrivals in the afternoon, Chris and Sylvia from Switzerland and Tony and Ina who we met earlier, more supplies are needed for the pasta so we wander into the village to see if we can find what is required, only a minor success so Brian has his work cut out with the ingredients he has.

A nice meal with pleasant company made for a good evening. At about 22:00 we heard a bike riding up and down near the site so go to investigate, a DR 350 piloted by another Brit, Nick , looking absolutely worn out after a long day in the saddle. Beer and food offered, he declines the food but accepts the beer, then we stand and watch him put his tent up!

It starts to rain and people wander off to bed, we stay chatting to Nick for a while before the rain starts coming heavier then head for bed ourselves. Parrots are quiet

10/12/2009 - 7 bikes and 11 people, so we plan our own Asado for tonight, if more people turn up we should be able to cater for them too. Andy, Maya and Nick head off to Viedma for fuel and shop for the Asado.

More arrivals throughout the day, Xavier and Sandra from Dakar Motos in Buenos Aires, Markus from Canada, Bob from UK but living in Peru, and his dog, John from UK living in Argentina and John and Isa from UK.

We finished the huge Asado with enough left over for tomorrow lunch.

02:00 and the eating, drinking and chatting is done and everyone thins out to bed.

11/12/2009 - Lots of work going on around the site this morning, a few tyre changes and other bits of servicing.

New arrivals today, Sebastian from Germany but living in Argentina, the German family that were here when we arrived, Mel from Argentina, Annette from UK and Fabrizio from Argentina.

We found out from Oscar how El Condor got it’s name, not because there are Condors, the first settlers here were survivors of a shipwreck so they named it after their ship “El Condor”.

John and Isa are cooking up tonight but are wishing they hadn't volunteered as numbers are growing. Huge amounts of chicken were purchased along with packets of rice and a load of fresh veg. The curry wasn't going as planned and John was panicking more than ever, the pot that he had got from the guy that owns the site was just too big with way to much in it, it would take forever to cook on the barbecue. We checked if it was possible for us to use the kitchen area that was on the site and split down the pot. John and Isa were dispatched to the kitchen to finish making the sauce and I cooked off the chicken on the barbecue with Lorraine and others running the chicken to the kitchen as it cooked. Everything came together and another good meal was had and another late night.

12/12/2009 - Oscar had made all the arrangements for the Asado today. The plan is to ride out from the site at midday to a local Estancia where the owner is putting on a typical Patagonian lamb Asado, the lamb is split and hung on a crucifix to cook over the fire, lots of salad and of course wine .. shame we have to ride back!!!

12:00 and everyone is ready for the off, we pull out first to video the bikes coming out of the site (and so we don’t embarrass ourselves by dumping the bike at the sandy exit), 17 bikes, 1 car and 2 4x4’s all made it out ok for the 15Km ride to the estancia. A really nice place on the river side with a huge room for the Asado, as we walked in the lamb was cooking on the fire and the smell was just great. Paul from Australia had seen us all pulling up as he was heading to the site and joined in, timing, 5 minutes later and he would have ridden on past and missed the meal. After way too much to eat, again, we all sat around chatting while lunch settled. Some of the guys were going into Viedma for ice cream at the allegedly best ice cream parlour around but we didn't fancy any more food so headed back to the site. Just before we left a huge dust storm started blowing up making for a not very nice ride back, love that Patagonian wind!!!!

Back at the site there were some new arrivals, not as lucky as Paul they had missed out on the food. Chris from Canada, Bjorn from Germany, Paulo from Brazil and as a surprise for those that know them, Ken and Carol Duval had arrived from BA by bus, a few people had known they were coming but were sworn to secrecy.

The site was now quite full and a couple of groups had formed, the German, the Spanish and the English speaking, Sebastian, fluent in all three said walking around the site was like crossing through international borders.

Another late night, with lots of drinking and a presentation to Oscar and Nancy for all their hard work.

And the Parrots are back!!!!!

13/12/2009 - A late start from everyone today, I heard Swiss Chris at his bike checking the time … 10:45.

We spent the morning, or what was left of it, tidying up the tent and getting ready for the move off tomorrow. Some of the guys are going out for a run to the seal colony but as we have already done it we won’t be going.

Today's lunch is a spag bol made with the leftover meat from yesterdays Asado but we have to wait for the run out to come back. They took ages and there were a few hungry people waiting around the site. They eventually came back and everyone was fed at last, another nice meal.

After lunch we lined up all the bikes for the group photo, everyone was trying to get their photo’s and it turned into a bit of a muddle but we managed to get things sorted and took some good pics after coordinating all the self timers to fire at the same time so we could all get back to the group.

Not too late a night tonight as people will be moving off tomorrow in various directions.

 

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