Got on the road (having skipped the breakfast in the Gualok Hotel, Saenz Pena) at 9:00 AM. Madam Ducati seems to be in a great mood, no more tantrums with the Fuel gauge and computer … The target today is Salta … 650 odd Kms away. Ruta 16 goes through the Argentinian Chaco and there are long distances between any villages / towns, so fuel management in a big issue. I filled up just before leaving Saenz Pena and after an 82 Km hop, I filled up again in Pampa del Infierno (Pampa of Hell!) …. All good so far. The next leg took me 163 Kms to Monte Quemado where I filled up again, forgetting to turn the computer off again … So we had 100 Kms of tantrums again, at one stage telling me I was good for 350 Kms and 20 seconds later – I was on reserve …. So I just ignored all that and ground out the Kilometers. The road was in good condition, but it is the first time I have ever driven so far without even one bend! After Monte Quemado, there was another 163 Kms of long straight road to Joaquin V. Gonzales, but there was one bend in the road, …. and after 400 Kms as straight as an arrow – I nearly crashed trying to negotiate it ! (Joke Mam … )
By the time I got to J.V. Gonzales, I noticed that the bike was running a bit hot ….. closer inspection revealed about 6 million of those lovely white butterflies I had been looking at along the way were now dead and clogging up the radiator and the oil cooler …. It took me half an hour to get most of them out …. But full marks to the Ducati, it didn’t even blink at this not inconsiderable inconvenience. I set out on my final leg to Salta with a feeling of great enthusiasm … it was about 1:30 PM and the computer (now no longer sulking) was telling me that I should make the 222Km leg in about 2 hours … and that I also had enough fuel to make it in one hop which is exactly what happened …. The main excitement of the day happened about 200Kms out …. I saw mountains … after 450 Kms of dead flat Chaco countryside – I found myself smiling inside the helmet. Mrs. Ducati wasn’t finished reminding me of her Italian heritage though … at a little village 11 kms into the final leg, “she” tried to send me on a 140 Km route where the one I had chosen was only 110Kms … lucky I was awake there ….. I didn’t have the fuel for that excursion. The final 100-odd Kms was a twisty, hilly dual carriageway (haven’t seen one of them for a long time) which took me all the way to Salta. I set the computer to take me into the city centre and that she did …. And What a beautiful city Salta is!
I’ll stay here tomorrow and get some R&R and some photos to add. I found Hotel Salta, right on the corner of the Plaza in the city centre – beside all the restaurants and bars …. And it looks like something in Italy – absolutely beautiful. So summarize the day …. 650 Kms, 49 Litres of fuel, six and a half hours including fuel stops – and a slightly sore ass. Feeling great though …. And I’m within striking distance now of both the Andes mountains between Argentina and Chile to the west, and the Bolivian Border to the north (Just one day’s ride to either). Will look at the weather because both have average altitudes way way higher than I ever went when I was flying planes! Average 4,000 Meters …. That’s 13,000 feet in my (original) language. Apparently at that altitude you get about 12.5% oxygen in the air…. Some people can manage without problems and some can’t …. And there is no rhyme or reason to it – either you are lucky or you aren’t. The Bolivians swear by chewing coca leaves, mixed with some sort of catalyst …. but I don’t know about that …. not for Bikers anyway …. Time will tell. Easy day tomorrow then …. I’ll find somewhere to get the remaining 3 million white butterflies out of the Ducati and then take steps to prevent the same thing happening again – and take some photos to add to this post !
Caio for now. G