Sunday 30th finished in Chazon, Cordoba Province. Ran 46km today from Ausonia.
Cops are giving me grief for running with Nirvana on the road. I tell them it’s safer than a bicycle as it’s same width and I am facing the traffic and can exit into the long grass shoulder whenever I like. The problem is really ignorance as something like Nirvana is unknown! It’s the same problem as in the USA with people pestering the cops with calls, then they are obliged to come out and investigate.
I just want to get to the next province La Pampa as quickly as possible and am hoping for a better shoulder, but doubt it as all of Argentina is the same. The further south I go, the less traffic there will be, so that will be a break.
Am in a gas station on their wifi
Todays 46km run was great, ran mostly with a tailwind and got in before what looked like a thunder and lightening storm with spitting rain. No storm in the end.
In Central Cordoba Province. It’s a big province.
Saturday 29th I ran my 22,000th km.
Total after Sunday = 22,073km for 529 road days.
After running out of Recreo and on towards the so-called dry area where Clayton told me he almost suffered from heat stroke I was told to watch out very closely for sudden changes to the landscape.
I was watching very closely as there had been hundreds of trees growing along the highway.
Then suddenly without warning they were all gone. Somehow in a momentary lapse of concentration I had missed the change. If I had been travelling with my own transport I would have returned to see the cut-off point, I don’t think it was gradual, I believe it was a sudden change.
Then again after running over the Cordoba province line the grass miraculously changed from sand to grass, then to a forest of endless trees behind the highway fencing, so many trees, so claustrophobic, growing so close to each other, it was amazing they survive in this almost desert like conditions.
A couple of Gringo motor bikers sped by as I crossed the line, they barely had time to wave a hand, stone faced down the highway missing such detail from the side of the road as this:
That day I managed to secure water at a police checkpoint and again at a ranch after another ranch couldn’t provide any due to a faulty pump. I had a large supply anyway but thought it prudent to fill up at any opportunity anyway.
I got a water bottle filter as well as a hand-held UV sterilizing device to use on suspect water if necessary.
Unlike in Bolivia and Peru water here in Argentina is safe to drink from just about anywhere in the country.
On I ran along highway 60. It was tough, humid and hot. Insects were a pest, when I blew my nose dead flies came out. No flies on me, as we would say in Ireland
39km that tough day not counting the 3km from the highway to the village of San Jose de Salinas.
Stopping at a shop to stock up I was told that the village had a population of 400 souls and everyone is great there. I asked for some hot water for my thermos and headed off to the village park to camp for the night. One of the great village people saw me just as I was putting the final peg into the tough semi grass ground. It was dark, he called out to see who I was, so I told him I was a gringo running around the world.
After that reply I didn’t blame him for calling the cops. I watched from a distance as he dialled.
A big man came out to investigate, like he had just gotten out of bed in a hurry!
He put out his hand to shake mine. I hesitated as he was not in uniform, instead I just showed him by business card and explained what I was about. When I trusted he was okay I offered him my hand telling him that I hesitated thinking he might be a bit loco, we both laughed.
All this time he was shinning his flashlight at me. He was great in the end as he told me I shouldn’t have camped there but somewhere else, but as I had my tent set up that I could stay where I was.
From San Jose de Salinas to Quilino was a bitch of a day. My progress was slow as I stopped many times to rehydrate and rest. Only 28km but I was shattered, that was the only really tough, seriously tough day in the 120km three day dry area, but I have had worse days and live to tell the tale.
It doesn’t take long for road dirt to stick to my sun blocked face, no matter how many times I wash my face I seem to look more and more like a ragamuffin!
Salt stains my clothing in this humid, hot weather. I was told it’s a balmy 50c in the summer in January. It’s even too warm to sleep indoors at that time. In the summer many people sleep out in their gardens. Many houses in the rural areas don’t even have doors, just a curtain in it’s place.
In Quilino I spent the entire evening and early morning over two big meals in La Posta restaurant in a truck stop. They had wifi, as do many gas stations and restaurants on this route. That is very handy for me now that I am also reunited with my laptop. In fact I even bought a modem stick and some pay as you go internet service which looks like it was a waste of money as so far I have had enough service at these type places and when I don’t I am usually too tired to bother with the modem anyway. Perhaps further south in the Pampas and Patagonia the modem may be more useful, that is if there is service.
I left the Restaurant after 2am and decided to run the 29km to Dean Funes at night. It was a tough slog as the traffic was heavy as most motorists seem to prefer night time cool travel, which surprised me as surely they have air conditioned vehicles. Because of the traffic I was stuck in the potholed shoulder for the entire run and hardly got out of a fast walk pace, still it was 29km before breakfast and not to be sneezed at!
The plan was to run two stages that day, so I did and after another wifi breakfast and early lunch in the YPF gas station I headed out on up the highway. The afternoon was cool, just nice, so I had a lovely run with a decent tailwind and enjoyed my second gallop that day, all of the 22km to Avellaneda.
On the way I saw the aftermath of a truck crash off the road. An obvious case of a speedster. I am sorry but I find it hard to have sympathy for drivers that put others in danger. Only sympathy for the innocent. However thankfully nobody hurt or worse.
Regular readers will know I don’t play the politically correct line like many travel writers who expect you to read between the lines. I tell it as it is, so you read on the line, bang on the line and get the true story, however unpopular it may be to tell the truth.
All in all I have found the Argentines to be very well mannered on the road, amongst the best drivers of the run so far, which is not what I remember from my cycling days here so many years ago.
Just like the Bolivians they often just flash their lights instead of all the stupid get out of the way Peruvian honking.
In fact I have hardly had a bad-tempered honk here. I have a lot of time for these people, they are soft, gentle and not an aggressive nation.
This section of road is moderately busy, so even though it’s just two lane I can still run often as much as a kilometre on the road before running into the gravel or grass shoulder. What happens is I look behind every 10 or 15 seconds and if there is nothing behind and I have an approaching vehicle I wave my right hand, water bottle in hand and the driver always moves out for me. As they approach I usually give another thumbs up wave of acknowledgement. Often they just move out for me without my signal, when they do that I know there is obviously nothing coming up behind me. Perhaps they have seen me on the road before, I know they have respect as most wave, so respect is mutual. Like the endless YPF tankers that constantly drive by, they almost all always give me a good luck honk. In a strange sort of way they remind me of the freight train drivers in Nebraska, they also hooted but from a distance across the prairies. I am sure they wondered also what I was up to, perhaps seeing me so much and every day a bit further on up the road we built up a relationship of sorts, even if they could identify me, but I can’t see them, for me it’s impossible to know them, but I feel a strong kinship.
I never really appreciated honks from behind for safety reasons but here one can only love the good-natured Argentines.
As I have said before it’s the almost silent over takers from behind that pose the most danger to me. And it’s not just the over taker as they can clearly see me but the over taker behind that over taker whose view may be obstructed that is the real danger. An added threat here is the Argentine habit of closely following the vehicle in front even at high speed presumably tail winding to save fuel, or to get closer to over take the on the narrow roads. Either way, it’s the same threat to me and I need to be forever vigilant.
That days two stager gave me 51 for the day with the second stage being literally a breeze! It took me to a small village called Avellaneda. In the village I went into Chango’s bar and restaurant and had a delicious meaty milanese sandwich.
Chango was very friendly as was another man called Christian.
Christian invited me to an asado bar-b-q that night. I agreed even thought I didn’t really want to as remember I didn’t sleep last night at all and that was after a very tough day the day before.
Before I left Chango gave me a 2 litre bottle of water and went over to the cop shop to get permission for me to camp in the village park. Just as I was getting ready to pitch my tent two elderly cops came over and told me it would be better to camp under a covered church area. The covered area was just like a windowless barn attached to the side of the church, I hardly needed a tent as it was a warm night and there are no mosquitoes in this area.
However I did pitch the tent, I planning to sleep for just an hour before the asado and was delighted that I was not disturbed. I slept well that night, all 12 hours of it