(Note: Eduardo’s story at the bottom of today’s update!!)
Dalton got us beers at the YBF gas station where we stopped last night 12k north or Resistencia, so I gave him a Gatorade this morning from the same gas station when we started.
We spent last night in Corrientes, Argentina because there were no rooms in our planned destination Resistencia. Lucky for us we had Eduardo and the Fiat Diablo Adventure to drive the extra 25 miles in the darkness no get there. Dalton picked Corrientes “one of the oldest and most historical cities in Argentina… and one of the most beautiful in the region,” as our best shot for a hotel. Good job, again, Dalton. Here’s the view of the hotel, of a sign across the street from the hotel, and from our windows at the river port.
Our hotel, the Hotel Hostal Del Rio is shabby and quaint. It’s like these people ran out of money 30 years ago and have been trying to keep things up with cleaning, but not much paint or other rehab. The elevators have scissors action doors behind the regular doors, and you can watch the floors fly by.
On the way out of Corrientes back to our ending point yesterday, Dalton took a picture of the bridge and the costera. Corrientes sits just below the confluence of the great Rio Parana (blocked by the Ipatu dam, the largest structure in the world built in the 20th century) and the Rio Paraguay (the river we crossed yesterday morning, also large). The combined river retains the Parana name. It’s huge. Container ships can make it here hundreds of miles from the ocean.
From the gas station in the first picture Dalton and I headed 12 km south to the main regional intersection. As I said, we planned to stay in Resistencia, actually stayed in Corrientes, and we are heading toward a town called Presidentia Roca Saenz Pena (sp?).
The mosquitoes are top of mind. We’re in the Gran Chaco, “a vast alluvial lowland” full of standing water that must be the mosquito breeding ground of the universe. In Australia they have flies. Here mosquitoes are the predators. They’re smart, they’re loud (you can hear them buzzing you), they’re fast and they swarm instantaneously on sweaty human flesh. Millions of them.
At around 8:30a we left Ruta 11 and turned northwest on Argentina Ruta 16. We were hammered by a merciless headwind for the next few hours that kept our progress down to about 13 miles per hour. Time to look around. The side of the road is something between swamp and ranchland. This is a typical ranch house.
There doesn’t seem to be much agri-business here. These are smaller scale farmers, with lots of horses and ox and donkeys doing the work.
Unlike Brazil and even Paraguay, there are no shoulders on the roads here, and we continually had to go into the grass to avoid traffic and other obstacles.
We call it death avoidance. Traffic comes at you from both directions. The first picture above is of two cars heading in our lane toward me, and the other is of Dalton avoiding the high-speed parallel traffic from behind. (These are not reenactments.) We also had to wind our way around construction a couple of times.
We’re taking breaks inside the Fiat, and perfecting the technique. Eduardo gets set up with our stuff. We ride up to the van and quickly jump in and slam the doors. Mosquitoes can’t get in through glass and metal. Then we relax a bit and refresh and do the countdown. 10, 9, 8, 7… on the bikes and off.
Dalton did pause at a gas station with flags from all the countries around here (how many can you name?) and I took a picture.
We only covered 80 miles today, and we’re happy for it.
We’re in a highway side hotel called the Park Hotel, owned by an older German (and Spanish) speaking guy and staffed by his wife, son and daughter. It’s just outside a little town called Machagai. We stopped here and drove 30 miles up the road to find a real town, (Pena) but once again all the hotels were full with some cotton festival. We’re lucky to have a place to stay inside without camping tonight and expect to be outside for the next few nights. Along the highway here it’s about a half mile of woodworking shops and factories. Lots of wood, sawing pounding. Most of the shops make muebles of appropriate quality for rural Argentina. Tomorrow we will be off early and riding.
“ABOUT EDUARDO ERLER LIS” (written by Eduardo, the man, himself)
Eduardo is from Porto Dleope, Rio Grande do Sul state. He works in Mococa, Sao Paulo state at an organic farm called Fazenda Ambiental Fortuleza (www.fafbrasil.com). He met Bob at FAF in the beginning of June. Bob said he would ride across South America.
We talked for a while. I said that I had lived in Parana (state of Brasil) on Bob’s way and knew a little about the food, etc. We start to email each other and things start to happen. We purchased the car, supplies, etc.
I don’t know who told Bob that I know everything. If the wind changed, he asked me what happened, why the wind changed. I say I don’t know. “Come on Eduardo, you know everything,” Bob says.
In the beginning I has some difficulties to find Bob and Dalton. We always changed lanes, streets, stopping for directions. The first day I met Dalton and Bob 60km down the road.
The second day I still had a lot of food in the car. Bob said I didn’t want to share the food, but it was still hard to find and meet them.
The third and forth day we start to be like a team. But I was still lost like a hard candy in old ladies mouth with no teeth (Brasil expression). The other days were a piece of cake.
At night we always drink wine, start talking about the day and have a good laugh. After spending 16 days together I tell Bob, my oldest brother and Dalton, the youngest, for me was a great experience. See new people, different costumes, different kind of living.
But there is a common point with the three countries we ride. The nature still suffering by man’s hand. Fires beside the road. Trucks with trees you don’t know where they come from. Around most of the time we just saw bushes, hard sun and dust. Was a lot of garbage too beside the road, all kinds, plastic glass that could be worked and used again.
Most of the time when I’m waiting for Bob and Dalton I listen to the bird’s songs and try to figure out where they are, how distant, who sings more and for how long it keeps quiet. It is very cool.
(editors note: this is copied from Eduardo’s hand written notes. He’s Brazilian and speaks Portuguese as his first language and Spanish and English as his second and third. There are spelling and grammar mistakes here resulting from a combination of factors, especially my transfer of his comments to digital form.)