This won’t be the last post, but the end of the road is in sight.
We left Puerto Iguazu with storm clouds blanketing this whole part of the continent. Locally, the piece of Argentina that extends up toward the junction with Brazil and Paraguay is referred to as Mesopotamia, as it is bounded by rivers that define the national boundaries. Water was rolling in from the South Atlantic in boiling torrents of rain that fills those rivers, and we got up close and personal with a whole lot of it. Our “rain gear” was almost a joke – this was something well beyond mere “rain”. Soaked and chilled, we finally broke out near the end of the day and stopped at a great little posada (B&B-like small hotel) in the small town of Gobernador Virasoro. This is the region where Argentina grows the tea they are all so fond of, and the beautifully manicured fields surrounded us.
The next day, we split the distance to Buenos Aires and stopped at the town of Federacion, which is a tourist destination popular with the hot spring/bath crowd. We really were just making miles to get to BA, but did take the time to stroll the town and get a feel for the place. Pleasant on the river and filled with a crowd edging toward the elder set, walking from the baths to hotels in their fluffy white robes. But again, a nice place to stay the night, and we were well positioned for the run to Buenos Aires the next day.
A short note about the road we were on: this is the infamous “Ruta 14” that is really the only good choice for the destination we had, and it is well known as a place where the police are…economically motivated. There are plenty of stories to be found on the internet about motorists (and motorcyclists) who’ve contributed to the well-being of these gentlemen. And there are a LOT of police on Ruta 14. Only once did we have the pleasure of their company.
We were waved over at a “control” point staffed by the three gents in the photo. Two came over to talk to us and the boss stayed back at their car haggling with some other poor soul whom they had ensnared. He honestly, no kidding, had a calculator on the trunk of his car to do the math. Too funny.
Our two gents were the warm up, and they deferred all real negotiation to their boss, who would be with us “soon”. They talked about how dangerous the road was, how we must have been speeding, and how the fine could be as much as 2000 pesos ($500). But we kinda spoiled their their gig when we came off our bikes with friendly smiles and handshakes, and Heather asking if she could get a group photo of us all (that REALLY made ‘em skittish), and then the waiting game ensued. We hung around maybe fifteen minutes while their boss dealt with a very animated “client” who was apparently not having it. And we were taking photos, playing the happy tourists…so when he finally got to us, I think they had all decided we weren’t the right game for their hunt. We got nothing more than a “be careful” admonition and we were on our way, none the worse for wear, and very glad we had NOT let the tales of bad cops on Ruta 14 keep us from seeing Iguazu Falls. It is a shame, but I’m certain there are riders who give the Falls a pass just because of these knuckleheads.
Our arrival into Buenos Aires was a sweet ride. The fields and pastures continue very near the city, and the trees are full of birds. I’m pretty sure I caught a glimpse of two capybaras lazing in a marsh on the side of the road. Lots of cattle and horses.
As we neared the city, two lanes turned to four and the traffic picked up. Then several long and very tall bridges over broad, brown rivers dropped us onto an expressway that gained more traffic and more lanes and, in short order, we were in the midst of it all, shooting across Buenos Aires on a major freeway through the city. A quick stop to check the maps in our iPhones, and we rode directly to the little house in the Palermo barrio where our friends from the US had arrived earlier in the day. It all seemed a bit surreal after such an amazing journey of deserts, jungles and mountains, far-flung border crossings and adventures, good cops, great cops and bad cops, hotels, hostels, posadas and many new friends. To roll up in this busy little street in Argentina, and get big hugs from old friends so far from our start was very, very cool. Quick showers and a toast to our success and we were all off to discover Buenos Aires…but I think that’s a separate story…