Thursday, February 19, 2009

18 Feb – Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina

The rain is back but as they say in the trail bike world, at least it will keep the dust down. Thankfully the wind has gone also so the ride back to the tar seal was much easier than yesterday – that is until we got to one of the dreaded Desvio. These are bulldozed diversion 'roads' next to the one being built/repaired. They are often as rough as guts and today being wet the dirt sections were as slippery as hell. There was not one of us that did not take a temporary unintended direction and in one case with hilarious results.

As we neared Rivadavia it was clear by the number of oil wells that this was Argentina's Texas. Petrol prices have also declined.

Com. Rivadavia is on the East coast of Argentina so we have effectively ridden from one side of South America to the other. From here it is straight south until we get to the end.

It would be nice to report the ride as having gone through majestic mountains and great forests but sadly no – at least not yet. In general the country is dry and baron save for tussock and the odd bit of ground hugging scrub. Now and then we will pass a lake. We have been told to expect this sort of environment all the way down.

The roads are hit and miss. The newly surfaced ones are nice but many are badly patched with pot holes. I'm not sure they are well made in the first place – the seal is just to thin and they are being patched before median etc lines are painted on them. Maintenance is not in the Argentinian vocabulary so they tend to build things and then leave them to slowly fall apart. The sidewalks are simply dangerous – broken surfaces, protrusions and open man holes and drains. Eyes down and looking. As a pedestrian you also take your life in your hands crossing the road. Never a dull moment here, everyone is alert and wide awake – your life might depend on it.

Next day - 19 Feb. There is an old man sitting here having his breakfast. He has the tanned look of a man who has seen many a year in the sun. He is brown but not craggy. He stoops slightly and shuffles to his seat with well considered steps. His gray baggy trousers are tucked into his perfectly clean black high-healed boots. They are the sort of boots you see country horsemen wearing, the kind that have been worn for generations by traditional Argentinians. His blue shirt is open at the neck and he wears a crevate and over the top of the shirt is a green blazer with a handkerchief in the pocket. To finish off he wears a black beret. He looks dapper in the Perot style and in age he has not lost his pride. I am tempted to take his photo but as usual my camera is not to hand and besides it would probably be seen as an invasion. Unlike Perot he now spreads the butter on his bread using the handle of the teaspoon, then a little jam and noisily slurps his tea. I wonder what stories he could tell. My friends come clattering into the room and the moment is lost and he is temporarily ignored by me and completely by my friends. When I look up again he has gone.

Today is another of the rest days built into the schedule and tonight the other group join us. The hotel is managed by a Frenchman who is a top class chef and he has agreed to cook for us tonight. He also promises to include lots of vegetables, something we all sorely miss. Funny how we are all hanging out for a good Chinese. Oh and he used to own a Harley Davidson. All is well.

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