Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.
Kept the bathroom door closed and room door open as our bathroom smelled of poo in the hotel in Tupiza . They had come by to clean it several times but the odor returned within a few hours.
But slept good and up for breakfast at 7, but all seats and more important coffee cups taken so a while for breakfast to get going. I ended up with just 1/2 cup cold coffee, a roll and jam, and of course banana. But morning briefing covered apparently there was a change in the reciprocity for for Argentina. Bike dreams in original information said no visa was required but a reciprocity fee was charged on arrival at airports, but not if one arrived by land. Apparently this had recently changed and the paper had to be obtained prior to crossing border. Only applied to U.S., Canadian, and Australian citizens. Most already had as paper good for ten years and they had previously been in Argentina. Or like Buck they checked elsewhere for Info.
So I immediately went to hotel computer as wifi was incredibly slow. Thus on a Spanish computer with pictures of the continents instead of letters on the keyboard I applied for the paper. Took a bit but after $160 plus a $40 service fee they emailed the reciprocity fee paper in PDF format. Just print it. Yeah, right. First the computer I was on could not connect to printer, so hotel called in someone who could use hotel printer. Tried emailing the PDF to his computer from my phone, but wifi too slow. Could not get my mail on his computer. Finally put PDF in iBook format and plugged phone into his computer which printed the one page.
Meanwhile I keep calling it a visa and Max is insistent it is not a visa but a reciprocity fee. Finally when printed it said visa fee paid, and I was able to gloat. I was in no mood for semantics. I was stewing about this and realized politics is the art of getting someone else to pay for others not being able to get along.
Meanwhile everyone was ready to go. My bike was two blocks away yet and went to recover it. Michelle had gone and was bringing it to me knowing my frustration. Unfortunately the odometer was missing. A very nice thing to have as use for following the written directions. Go to roundabout at 63.6 kilometers and turn left, go .7 kilometer and turn right and so on. I still have GPS with route but always nice to have a backup system.
Pumped up the tires as on pavement today, get Walter to get water out as he had already put it away, throw what I had into pack realizing rain coat was in day bag packed away so hope for no rain.
Off everyone went and once on the bike it was pleasant. Road a delightful canyon going along a river gradually descending to 2700 meters above sea level, having to stop once in a while for pictures.
Then the climb back to 3400 meters and back on the altoplano. The climb was not too bad but it was hot, too hot for me. Everyone excited about getting to the heat but the mid 20’s are great for me. Does not get hotter than that in Anchorage and then too hot. Most on this trip believe the 30’s and into 40’s are great. As noted most have been on the tour of Africa where temperatures in the low 50’s were common. I had finished my 3 liters of water half way up hill, but survived to lunch truck at top of hill.
And a real pick me up when Hannie came up and said her bike was working perfectly for the first time in a month. The front derailleur had refused to get in the small chain ring. Lucho our mechanic had looked at it several times replacing cables and adjusting this and that. Yesterday I had offered to just take a look. Apparently I had fixed it, and it made my day. Something was going right. I felt like I could do something right.
Then a fairly pleasant 50 kilometer ride to the border. I was thinking that by the end of the day I am exhausted and wondering what the heck I am doing here. These folks are way above my league, as I ride along in near last place alone. Today only Dave from England is behind me. Then I remember this happens every afternoon, but when I awake in the morning I am excited to go.
Made the border town in Bolivia and had been told to change money before crossing. Apparently two systems of money exchange in Argentina. The official rate is 8.5 pesos the U.S. Dollar, but there is a “green” market which is 12-14pesos to the dollar. It is not a black market as somewhat sanctioned. I got 13.2 pesos to the dollar. Of course the U.S. Dollars must be fresh and crisp. One $50 bill I had was refused because of a 1/8″ tear. At home would not even think of it.
Border crossing relatively easy stand in this queue to check Bolivian papers, then stand in Argentina queue for checking the reciprocity paper and check passport and stamp it. Then back to bike and cross with a picture of Ushuia 5210 kilometers sign. We are not going direct there, but that is final destination two months from now. Turned around and took picture of border, but guard yelled at me saying no photos.
On to the hotel and the usual question of what will this one be like. So far ok water almost hot and a bidet. But then the question of where to eat. Had not seen any likely places coming in. Hotel restaurant looked ok but did not open until 8 pm, normally in bed by then. Told Buck my concerns about feeling end of day. He called me on it and informed me I was fully capable. Sometimes I wonder.
Hannie and Marias and I went out to search for a restaurant about 6 but only found 2, neither looked promising, but our only choices. Worked out ok. I ordered something I had no idea what, but did include beef. Turned out a thin piece of beef covering plate covered with melted cheese, which was covered with a piece of ham with a fried egg on top. This was not Bolivia which was either pasta or a pizza. And of course the usual side of French fried potatoes. Also nice to be with Europeans who eat their fries with mayonnaise. Somehow I picked up that habit when an exchange to Germany in 1967.
But came out of restaurant about 8:30 and the activity level had definitely picked up. Argentina operates late. Buck arrived in truck about 2 and went to barber but closed until 6pm. The barber was a busy place a 9 pm. There were over a dozen restaurants to choose from. Whereas all had been closed in the afternoon and shut down, at 9 pm the streets were hopping with activity.
And this is last hotel for 2 weeks. Bush camps and camping. The difference is bush camps have no facilities