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May 7-8, Day 210-211, NORTHEAST ARGENTINA

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DAY 210, May 7, 2012, Mercedes, Temp 23C (290/29,030km)

The Iguazu Falls weren't coming to me so I had to leave Salto and Uruguay behind heading back in to Argentina on my way to them.  The falls sit at the farthest northeastern point of the country where they thunder between 3 countries at the Triple Frontier (Paraguay and Brazil).

Before leaving Salto in the morning it was time to change the back tire for the 2nd time on the trip.  I knew this was coming and that's why the whole Uruguay posts shows the used spare on the bike hoping it would make Puerto Iguazu where the plan was to sell the bike at the big Cataratas Moto Rally.  Anyhow, The front desk girl directed me to a cheap and good shop, Le Mans, where the owner and helper took me in right away, patched the used tire, installed it and had me back on the road in about 20 minutes for all of $7 (and they say Uruguay is expense, I paid $12 in Mendoza, Arg to change the front tire).

The front desk girl wanted to try mine

But only if I could try hers

Guys from Le Mans Tire

Another easy border between these two countries just north of Salto (10km) across a good sized dam.  When my spanish gets better I'll go for a tour of the dam.  The check out of Uruguay was a one-stop desk about 30 seconds and then back in to Arg for about 5-10 minutes to fill out the aduana.

Dam between Uruguay and Argentina, awesome to ride across the top

Running low on gas as I had run out of Uruguay pesos I limped to the gas station 10km after the border, filled up and turned North.  Although I wasn't sure where I was going to stop I had a couple spots in mind.  In the end, after a very uneventful straight drive I finished the day in Mercedes.

Road report: Salto to 100km north of Concordia (RN 14) was farmland, cows C0/1R6/7T4V5/6 and then on to RN 119 which was Saskatchewan, Canada C2R4/5T3V5/6 poor road with truck indents and prairie.

This is going to be straight!

Yep, straight.

The only real curves came at this
interchange construction spot.

Road side...what?  Markets/shops

Military town, Curuzu Cuatia about
100km from Mercedes.  Probably
 here to watch Brazil?

Nice murals in the main park
Mercedes, a small town of about 30,000, didn't have much with only a few recommended hotels in my budget from the tourist info place and really only one restaurant everyone recommended.  The place was just a quick stop on the way passed the Ibera Wetlands as I went North.

Welcome to Mercedes

It's about motorbikes here

I love this shot!
To help control the speed in town

RECOMMEND: Hotel Ibera which is cheap enough and quiet for a good sleep.  The hotel girls weren't sure the bike would be safe, but it was locked in front of a sleepy 24 hour reception so why worry.  Also Sal y Pimiento, the highly recommended restaurant did the trick, but don't come late like the rest of Argentina or you'll be getting only millanesa.

DAY 211, May 8, 2012, San Ignacio, Temp 21-26C (510/29,540km)

Ibera Wetlands were out today as the road (another Ruta 40, not to be confused with the famous one) to Posadas was all crap for 3 or 4 hours, so I had to back track a little and trace the Brazilian border all the way to San Ignacio instead which would be my stop for the night.

The only place in town with Wifi was Shell. I needed to
check out Gui and Conor's progress to Iguazu.

Leaving Mercedes
 A little more adventure on this route, but not at first.  Mercedes to RN14 turning North was cows, farmland C1R7T1V6 with some good ranchland and sparsely spread short trees and bushes.  Once on to RN 14 it was pretty straight and the road was smooth C1/2R7T2V5.  Santo Tome to RN208 C3R7T3V6 trees, farms and a little more curves.  And then it got interesting...

One cow per tree in these parts

Another prayer station

A classic Guacho

We got a smoker

Definitely reminding me of the
Canadian prairies

Sure it doesn't look good and it was
pricey, but it was actually tasty.

Love this flag shot as I passed 

Entering more forestry in the north

RN 208, damn more off road.  As I turned on to this back road I stopped a local girl on her scooter and asked (in my crap spanish) if this was the way to San Ignacio.  She said there was a better way (in her crap spanish, just kidding).  I asked if there was a lot of water on the road and she said it was pretty good dirt so I figured I could handle it not wanting to take her 80km detour back to Posadas.  C7R3T0V4 back road with farms and villages.

A sample of RN 208

How do I get myself in to this? RN 208 explanation.

San Ignacio.  A town popular for its Jesuit Ruins, but not for me.  I wanted to go there after reading about the "Adventure Hostel" which is quoted in Lonely Planet as "What a Hostel should be".  Plus it was a good stopping point between Mercedes and Puerto Iguazu.  I arrived with only 30 min to sunset and found Adventure Hostel.  I told the front desk I would check in when I got back, but first I want to catch the sunset.  I asked the front desk if there was a good spot and they had two options.  One was 3 km away and the other, which was better, was 8 km away so of course I went for the challenge, mistake...

The willows on the road side were transparent as the sun
pierced them.  Looking back the other way, a deep red.

An incredible bridge up in the sticks

Such peaceful water views
from the side of the bridge

Favourite photo of this section of the trip

San Ignacio

I got lost a little on this dirt road and had to ask for directions twice with out really understanding what the responses were as I just followed the way they pointed.  A tough road in to the national park where the great sunset views were so I really didn't have time to survey the best viewing spot.  I got off the bike and jogged towards the sun that was falling behind the cliffs and trees in front of me.  Initially I walked up which lead down and then to a fork that went down more or up.  Thinking down to the beach was the way to go I headed down to find it went way down and never seemed to get to the beach.  With out a flashlight I decided I had gone down far enough and turned back snapping a few photos here and there to get what I could of the hiding sun.  Oops, like I said, mistake.  As I made my way to the bike in the dusk I saw a couple more signs telling me where the sunset views would have been best, which of course was up!  Oh well, I'll come back another time...
Another tricky road.  This one
 in to the Teyu Cuare Park

This place reminded me of Jurassic Park

You can see why I wanted to leave
before night fall.

Sunset at Teyu Cuare Park

As for the rest of my night in San Ignacio I settled in to the Adventure Hostel in my own shared room with everything for about $15 (love low season).  A quiet dinner at Itaroga where I met a very knowledgeable former engineer originally from Argentina who had travelled the world and knew 3 or 4 languages.  For all those who want to know why I travel this is the reason!  I love to meet these people who have gone everywhere, learned a lot and still have the ability to ground themselves enough to keep it all going.  I think his best advice to me besides all the other good real estate and business points was to learn a language as a tool to get things done and not just to simply learn to know a language.  For example: why learn Russian if you will never need or use it.

Adventure Hostel was more like a resort.  

Dinner at Itaroga

RECOMMEND: Adventure Hostel, Itaroga Restaurant

Other Stuff

Holy shit!

Fall colours on the Uruguay side of the border

Now that's a truck!

A cemetery off RN 208 in the middle of nowhere

Big F%*king Ants!