On July 19th, I somewhat reluctantly left Sucre during a window of good weather to head down to Argentina with the sole purpose of initiating Bolivia’s arduous visa extension process. Bad weather had been passing through on a weekly basis, and there had been a road blockade a week prior in the southern Bolivian district of Tarija.
However, once I was on the bike I was fine. The day warmed up and I was reminded how good it felt to be “going somewhere”. I would also be traveling on familiar roads and stopping in familiar towns with familiar hotels, which offered a since of ease about the trip. Once in Argentina, I would be meeting up with some past acquaintances that I never thought I would see again.
The road to Potosi was paved and clear, the weather perfect, south of there it would be dirt roads and construction all the way to the border. I would stay the night in Tupiza in the same hotel as I did back in October. It had ample parking and was poplar with overland travelers and jeep tour operators so it would be a good place to get information on road and weather conditions from the northbound travelers.
Do to recent rains, many of the riverbeds had some "flow" to them. In Bolivia, the usually dry riverbeds are incorporated into the road system. Nothing was too deep, but I did get stuck while crossing one riverbed. I just so happened to be wearing my GoPro helmet camera when it happened and was able to film it (video). It was not the most dramatic video ever shot, but what it does show, is how fast and friendly people come to your aid, even without asking. I always ride alone, but in many respects, I am never really alone.
The next day I crossed the crowded border of Argentina a La Quiaca. From there I had two hours of driving in the open plains battling some pretty strong crosswinds. Once in the mountains, I crossed the Tropic of Capricorn for the 5th, 6th, or 10th time (?) and entered the town of seven colors, Purmamarca, for a repeat visit. The next day would be an easy three-hour ride into my destination of Salta.
I had passed by the city of Salta on two previous occasions, writing it off as a congested larger city (Argentina’s 8th largest) that I thought best to avoid. I was wrong. Salta is one of the better-preserved colonial cities of Argentina, and has loads of charm. It was founded in 1582, and was a major hub between Lima, Peru and Buenos Aires, when the Spanish would transport their gold and silver laden loot from Peru and Bolivia (Potosi) in caravans to the Atlantic coast. The city is said to be the most Spanish of all Argentine cities. I thought it very reminiscent of Seville, with it’s main-square encompassed with orange trees, colonial buildings, and outside cafes. I liked it!
Friday, I got my passport stamped without incident.