18 April 2011

Salta 3

I abandoned my plan to take the train from Tucuman to Buenos Aires. There seemed no way to purchase a ticket online and it was impossible to purchase one by phone or even to inquire about the availability of tickets. Tickets were supposed to be purchased 2 weeks prior to travel at the ticket office in Tucuman. There was also a report that prices had been raised by 80%. Even more worrisome was the possibility I would have to pay a significant excess baggage fee to get the 2 boxes containing my bike and gear to Buenos Aires. To answer these questions and get a ticket I would have to go to the ticket office in Tucuman. As much as I wanted to travel by train across the Pampas it was too difficult and I decided to travel to Buenos Aires by bus from Salta.

I walked to each of Salta’s bike shops inquiring about boxes. Only one shop had them and a man working there offered to sell me a box for 20 pesos. I told him he was joking. He said he was serious. I offered 10 pesos, not even intending to pay that. He refused and I left the shop.

Walking back through the Plaza 9 de Julio someone called out my name. Sitting at one of the outdoor cafĂ© tables was Jason, an English cyclist I had met in Tierra del Fuego at La Union Panaderia at Tolhuin. I sat down and joined him for a drink. He had just arrived by bus from Buenos Aires. After a few weeks touring Uruguay he had tried to ride cross the Pampas but abandoned due to there being no shoulder on the road, heavy truck traffic, and a lack of places to wild camp. There was nothing to the countryside but flat farmland. It had been my original plan to cross the Pampas from Mendoza and I was glad I hadn't tried it.

Jason had just built up his bike and back at his hostel and, if it was still there, he had a bike box. We talked roads and places we had been since we had last seen each other and I told him about the good riding south of Salta through the Valle de Lerma and the Quebrada de Las Conchas.

We finished our beers and walked back to his hostel and the box was still there. Jason was anxious to get back on the road and my description of the good riding south of the city had excited him. He planned to leave tomorrow on a loop that would take him south to Cafayate and then back north on Ruta 40 towards Bolivia. He planned to cross into Bolivia and continue north and he would contact me in a some months when he made Colombia. If I was still in shape we could do some riding together there.


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