Monday, February 22, 2010

Punta Tombo to Fitz Roy - February 14

Getting directions from a local.

We need to cover some distance today, so we'll be going as far as the day allows.

The weather is unseasonably cold and combined with the wind makes for frequent stops to get the blood flowing again in the fingers and toes.  It's been a consistent 11 degrees C on the pampas south of Bahia Blanca, but as we descended to Commodoro Rividavia (at sea level) the temperature climbed to 23 degrees C in about five minutes.

We got stopped at a police checkpoint for the first time today - no problems.  They logged some information about the bikes and our travel plans and sent us off with a smile.

Argentinian drivers amaze me.  They seem to think they are in a Grand Prix the moment they are behind the wheel (not surprising since gas is only available in "Fangio" at 93 octane or "Super Fangio" at 97 octane).  The typical Argentinian driver will sit close behind us desperate to pass, but unwilling if there is any sign of oncoming traffic - even if it is 3km away, but we are consistently passed on hill climbs and in blind curves! 

We've seen hundreds of roadside shrines which I assumed were to memorialize crash victims, but it turns out they are shrines to honour Gaucho Gill.  Gill was a bit if a Robin Hood character in the 1870's who, when eventually caught and hanged by the authorities, swore he would grant miracles from the afterlife.  The shrines are built to honour Gill as thanks for a near-miss traffic incident (and are often seen on hill climbs and in blind curves!)

Outside of the larger towns, cash is the only method of payment accepted, and of course there are no banks or ATM's outside of the larger towns either.  That did mean scraping together loose change at one gas stop and so from now on we'll top up on cash as well as fuel whenever we can.

We stopped in the tiny crossroads of Fitz Roy for the night after about a 500km ride.

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