• 28 January 2017

Argentina’s rich land with lots of trucks

Argentina’s rich land with lots of trucks

Argentina’s rich land with lots of trucks 150 150 Gürkan Genç


After leaving Ayhan and Mehmet, I proceeded to outside of the city almost never stopping. First I went to the north and then 50 kilometers to the northwest, and I managed to get out of the city. Getting out of the hustle of the city was very easy thanks to the Garmin GPS.

 Like I told you before the bike paths was very limited in the city center. Same situation when leaving Bueonos Aires. There is a bike path only on one line. I’m losing that bike path when I cross the driveway. Bus and truck traffic in the city is awful.

As I was going to the west, I had examined the roads on that route before on the map. I have 3 main roads to follow, number 7, 8 and 9. Road number 9 seems to be rough. 7 and 8 follow next. There is a small town called Captain Sarmiento on the 8th. Daniela, the fireman in that town, whom I met in Buenos Aires, said he wanted to have me as a guests in the town. I said I’d come.

Thats why I choose the road number 8. Everything was beautiful until I left Buenos Aires (about 35 km). Even, on the first day, I did not have much trouble on the road. I was following a parallel path to the main road. So I kept away from vehicle traffic. But in the following days, I had to get out of the main road from by-road and then the troubles started. I had to go very close to the vehicles as there was no safety lane on the way number 8 and it was very uncomfortable since the trucks get close to me.  I started follow the by-roads by strecthing my road.

There has not been much change in the roads. Even though the traffic is reduced, there is still a truck traffic. There’s another trailer in the form of a wagon behind every truck. Thus they are longer than a normal truck and carry more loads. But these wagons are moving to the left and the right on the road too much. Although I used the roads 7 and 9 in the later days of the journey, I could still not get rid of this truck traffic even if I entered the by-roads. I thought I’d use the mountain road directly, but I wanted to change some parts of the bike, especially the disc brake system. The new V brake parts would come to Santiago, Chile. I’il be happy if I get to them soon. The land from Buenos Aires to Corodaba is called rich land and the number of trucks is enormous, as all the land along the road is agricultural land.

I stayed in Captain Sarmient, in Daniela’s house, I visited the area, I stopped by the horse farms, I spent time with firefighter friends.

In addition to cereal products produced in the region, there are farms in incredible sizes. . The number of horse farms is also quite high. I had the opportunity to go to a few farms. Agricultural products are being sent to several countries in Europe, and mainly to China.

During my journey up to Mendoza, I stopped by the fire stations in towns and cities. In every part of South America, people who work in fire brigades work voluntarily. Whoever wants to be volunteer in the town or wants to help the people from the left over time from the work, comes and becomes fireman. The state only supports car purchase and the suits. I mean we can call this men superman. When you stop by with your bike to firefighters, they give you a space to set up a tent or allow you to stay there if they have places. Shower, wifi, food facilities they help whatever they can. During my 9 months of travel between Chile and Argentina, I stayed at about thirty fire stations. All hail to them. Heroes with big hearts…

The weather is so variable that one day it is raining, one day the sun is on, there is no between. In sunny weather, the air temperature rises to 48C. One day I never forget; suddenly the rain began and the wind came out. While looking forward, I pulled my bike aside and started to enjoy the scenery. I thought a big whirlwind would have formed. I’ve never seen clouds like this in my life before. Maybe I was supposed to run away, but it was amazing watching that view. Even though the rain and wind intensfied, a whirlwind did not come out.

Until I arrived to Cordoba, I can say I travelled with the rain. I never had a hard time entering Cordoba, there were quite a few trucks, and it was quite good to have bike paths in the city, after a long break I was able to ride my bicycle comfortably. I arranged a hostel from the internet. When I went to the hostel, the friends at the reception learned that I was Turkish and called a Turkish friend who worked there. His name was Tolga. He’s trying to travel to South America by working in hostels. It was his last few days in the hostel I stayed in. He found a job in Buenos Aires. The other friend at the reception showed me where to park my bike outside, but I directly said I wouldn’t park there. When Tolga also said, “Don’t put it there the week before the Americans, who departed from Canada, came to the hostel, their bikes are also stolen from there,” I locked the bike in the middle of the lobby. What I was going to do? It was the safest place, and there was a camera recording.

I had a friend in Maru, Cordoba. He was working in the Argentine state’s oil facilities in Patagonia. I wasn’t sure if he’d be here when I arrived in Cordoba, so we didn’t know if we could meet. But he was also there when I arrived. I traveled in Cordoba with Maru for 3 days. We had dinner in the restaurants in the evening, we visited the churches in the daytime, we visited the second hand markets.

Walking through the streets of Cordoba was much more fun than walking the streets of Buenos Aires. For example, in Buenos Aires, tango shows were held in the streets, if you enjoy the shows you could put some money in the baskets in front of them.

I came across a different situation in Cordoba. For instance, there is a square with music playing, people who are passing by, accompany to artists, dance and sing with them. A couple was walking in front of me and they had a shopping cart in their hands. They just put their things aside and danced like for 10 minutes.  Then they took their things and went home. Everybody was like that, they were dancing and I really enjoyed to watch them. I think the last time I’ve seen such an event in China. Maru said that folkloric dances are more famous in this region. The town named Cosquin had a festival a few days later. If I change my route and go to that town, I’m going to join in a nice festival and see those dances.

I had the chance to meet a Turkish citizen who was on a world tour in Cordoba; Kerimcan Akduman. He is a wonderer who is well known and followed by others. His narrative, his posts, his appetite is undeniebly impressive. We had time only for a lunch. But I believe that we will meet again with him elsewhere.

When you go to north of Cordoba and turn towards the west, you are immediately on a mountain road. I wanted to see that festival. Cosquin wasn’t that far away. This road I went on a bike was the number one track for citizens living in Cordoba and who like to ride a mountain bike. During the day, I had bicyclists passing by in groups. It was one of the roads to be careful when climbing. Because I couldn’t go to the left or right by playing the ear. The speed of the cyclists, who went  to the top and and come down, was over 50 kms. Doing zigzags on this dirt road with a 10% slope could lead to a big accident. When I arrived at the summit, I came across with familiar scene. Catholics place a church, Jesus statue or statue of Mary in almost all such high areas like this. At this point there was a very large statue and a large number of local tourists who came from the other side of the road with vehicles. There wasn’t any vehicle on the road which I used. This field is also named in Cerro Pan de Azucar.

As I was going down to Cosquin, I ran into a couple on a bike tour. They seemed pretty tired of pushing the bike. I stood by them. I had no hope they would speak English but they knew enough English to comminucate, it happened to be nice. Since they did not have time, they watched only the first day of the festival. They’re on their way to Uruguay. They are students at the university. I told them about the truck traffic I came across on the road to Buenos Aires. So I told them to choose alternative ways or even to extend their way. And then everyone went on their own.

I saw a huge public pool just outside the Cosquin town. February is the month of August in this country. There are 48C temperatures, so all the people in the town are in the pools. Every village has a public pool in the town. They’re all full at certain times of the day. Especially at weekends, when the barbecue comes in, these pools are complete chaos. I don’t want to say anything about the hygiene of the pool, but let me only say this, one of every three ads on the television in the summer are fungus medicines. So nobody can put me in those pools. Likewise, if a river or river passes through the towns, then those areas are crowded like this ones.

There was also a river in Cosquin, and the camp site where I was planning to stay was also there. But when I just arrived, I saw that it was too crowded. There is no place left in the camp even for a car, a lot of people in the river. Because of the festival, people or tourists in the area, everyone came to town. Few hotels in the hostel I looked, all full. I went to the fire department, they said, you can stay in the normal time as you wish, but there is no place to stay at the moment, there are already firefighters from other places. I thought I could find a place with Garmin GPS, while I was looking for a place to stay in the system, I saw one more  camp site near, but it was a bit far way from the center , it was okay anyway. I liked the sight of the place, it had a different atmosphere. It was like a movie scene.

On the corner of the camp, a crowded family had laid their tents side by side, the children were playing their balls. Clothes swinging on the ropes just opposite the tents.. On the right side, a huge caravan, a tarpaulin on it, something like a workshop next to caravan, young people are doing something inside. Later I saw that they were making jewelry, necklaces and earrings, they came to this town for tomorrow’s festival.I learned during the summer they were also visiting from the festival to festival and were solding their products. In Italy and France, I had trinkets that I bought from a friend, I also sold them. It was good money. But I could not wait  in the same place for days to sell products, I could not finish all of them, I gave it to Kutlu family, who were in Germany I stayed with. I set up a tent, went to take a shower to the back, and saw two more tour bikes. Two college friends from Buenos Aires. We chatted a bit:

• Are you here for the festival?

• Yes, I came to the festival.

• I have a tent on the back,  when I am out from the shower, come here and lets have a chat little bit..

An hour later, when they came to my tent and saw my tour bike, they were surprised. I didn’t tell friends I was on a bike. Then we had a long chat. I haven’t coincided with someone who’s been on such a long journey. The last time when I went to Japan, I came up with Nathan and he was about to finish his 6th year. It was fun to talk to him. How enjoyable is it to chat with me? Chat with a man on the bicycle. What I’ve seen and ı’ve lived may not reflect the truth, so for many years I am trying to cover the gap with the books, with them and what I see, I’m creating my own thoughts. Sometimes I share during chats. Maybe they’re boring, I don’t know.

The next day, these two young friends went to Buenos Aires, I gathered my belongings and went to the festival area. They closed the roads and the streets were full of people, I could enter the streets because I was on the  bike. There was a Turkish flag behind my  bicycle and “HEY TURCO” some people called. I found a suitable place to watch the march on the festival. I mean let’s not get the bike stolen in this crowd, just because to watch the festival J.

There was an equestrian convoy on the other side of the avenue, women on horses, girls, little boys, children in the arms of the mother’s and father’s, a super picture. At least 1000 horses have passed, at least I say. I’ve never seen such a horse convoy. I started to capture beautiful scenes with my camera, I tried to go to the other side, after a while, asphalt pavement was all over covered with the horse poo. I crossed the street literally bouncing J The walk of these horses took a long time and then the bazaar was full of people. In the evening, folk dances in the region were exhibited. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay with to watch because there was no place where I could leave my bike safely. I wanderend in the city till noon and then left the city.

When you get to the south, right from this area, there is a town that will look different to many people. After the Bavarian region in Germany, this town hosts the largest beer festival in the world, October Fest. Now someone may say what is it got to do with it? In the First World War, the Argentine army is sending troops to Germany with a military exchange program. Then they support Hitler during the Second World War. At the end of World War II, many German soldiers, families fleeing Argentina. I’ll tell you a little more in the next article. Anyway, the town’s name is Villa General Belegrana. The image of the town has nothing to do with South America. You think its  a village in Germany. When you go in its season the hostel prices are quite expensive. There is a camping area outside the city. It was so bad that I couldn’t find a  hotel because of pedalling and wandering around the city till the evening.I wandered in the city on the bike until I was dark, I looked around a bit. An ideal environment for those who want a German mood in Argentina. Everything from chocolate to beer is pretty good. And there is a campsite on the city’s main road. The camp site was quite expensive even from the normal camping area prices. But there’s nothing to do. It would rain in the evening.

On the following days after Cordoba, I was very pleased with the route I chose, and there were mostly unused village roads and roads. The long distance between the towns and the 49C of the air caused me to drink the water carefully in this area. Obviously, I did not expect such a warm weather in this geography. I was about to arrive San Louis city,  on the way to nothing much, I came across an event I never expected in Argentina, where the roads were awful, the roads were full of trucks. In many countries I have been pedaling on bicycle paths, but I had never seen an intercity road which gained my admiration with such small details like this. The bike path, which lasted about 30 km, had beautiful details that I had never encountered before. In interviews I gave in radios and newspapers in Argentina, I especially thanked the mayors. It would be nice to stay in a hostel in San Louis, I stank because of the hot weather. In booking.com a hotel made a discount almost the price of a hostel so it made more sense to go there. I was just in there and the Spanish Juan Rondon, another tour biker who had the same thoughts with me, came to the hotel. We laughed and hugged each other. He doesn’t speak English, I don’t speak Spanish. We just tried to understand each other little bit, where did he come from, where he was going, where did I come from, where I  was going.. He started his trip from Buenos Aires and would end Chile in Santiago. He is married and has two children. His dream was always to make this journey and cross the mountains of Ant in Mendoza to reach Santiago. I’ll see him for the next few days because we’re going in the same direction. The next day, he’s leaving early in the morning. I’m not thinking about leaving early in the morning. Because I have to change the rear brake wire on my bike. (Because it was a disk brake, there were already a few wires break off from that point. I’m not taking my chances after the crash in Lesotho. I was already thinking to change the disc brakes, V brakes will return.)

I didn’t see any tall buildings in the city of San Louis, but there was a building air in the city, and it was a city with conurbation. Juan left two hours before me. I’ll catch him somewhere on the road. There’s no alternative way to go after San Louis. We will have to follow the main road. Fortunately, they were able to make safety strips in the area up to Mendoza. I can say that I see the safety lane for the first time in Argentina

There is a gas station about 60 km from San Louis just after crossing the border of Mendoza province. Along the way, there is no place to take anything else, water or food. I saw Juan’s bike there, and the weather was already hot, so I took a break at the gas station.

For the next 3 days we are pedaling together to Mendoza. His performance is pretty good, by the way Juan is 10 years older than me, we don’t go too fast, and I keep up with his speed. One day, during a conversation he said that he had a prosthesis on his leg. After he saw the way I looked at him:

• What is it, Gürkan, why are you looking like that?

• I don’t have anything to say, Juan you are the man.

I asked him what kind of prosthesis he was wearing. A cut of metal from the femur is just above the knee. He showed it with x-ray photos. In other words, the place where it gives all the power while pedaling. I continued my praise. An incredible determination. The next day we will reach Mendoza. I took a lead on the way back. When I went forward, I didn’t pay attention to how fast I went, I looked at the mileage, ups I accelerated, I looked back and saw that Juan was pedaling right behind me. I smiled and he laughed. I’ve increased the speed. I looked back again,  Juan was pedaling incredibly. Thinking there was no need to push more, I went down to a low tempo and made a thumb up. I am amazed wtih his determination.

We have seen the mountains of Ant in front of us as we go down the kilometers. Juan raised his hands up and shouted, ama I didn’t understand the words, saying something in Spanish, but I understood that feeling very well.I had a smile. Arriving to a place you aimed and finally being happy. That’s it, actually, everything for this, nothing else matters. Juan had reached in the foothills of the mountains of Ant, which he had always dreamed about without closing his eyes. Now it was time to climb. Before we arrived in Mendoza, we also pedaled between the vineyards in the area. I saw the factories of the most famous wines. In Moldova, I saw some of the world’s largest wine crops and I had padelled miles under the ground, I paced between the vineyards in France, Spain, I traveled South Africa’s vineyards from one end to the other, and I am now in the world where the world’s most famous Malbec wines are produced. What a trip!!! Sometimes even I can’t believe I did.

I saw a farmer working in the field, I asked him to hand me a bunch of grapes, he gave it to me immediately. Wow, they’re as good as they say. I said that I would stay in this city for 10 days and 10 days in that city, I wandered the streets of Mendoza and visited the wineries. Marketing is not good as good South African, but this grape sells itself. They produced 1.53 billion liters of wine from grapes  in 2016. The number is pretty serious. In my last article about South Africa, I wrote about the contribution of wine production to the country’s economy. This is partly true in Argentina. Such a production capacity is not enough to keep the economy in this country because of bad management. According to the data of TAPDK, in 2016 in Turkey, 51 million liters of wine produced. At this point, there is no point of talking about the agricultural economy. Anatolia, the land where the wine is, the most beautiful grape grows. But on the 10th century we didn’t care as much and the wine’s production development stopped. Do we have wine? There is so..

During my time in Mendoza, with my friend Cecile I went to the top of San Martin and had a look at Mendoza from above and chatted and drank mate. To be honest I really don’t like Argentine’s this classic drink. They put tea leaves that have been processed into a bowl specially sold for mate, add hot water on it and drink with a reed from metal. As the water runs out they add water with the thermos they carry. In a community, if someone is drinking mate, then the mate passes from hand to hand and that reed is touches everyone’s mouth. I mean why should I suck something that everyone sucked like a pacifier? They say most of the foreigners who came to the country do not like mate. Probably most of them don’t like it because its passes around in people’s mouth.

When I told Cecile I didn’t like mate, she said:

• Like or dislike Mate; When someone handed you the mate, don’t say no, Mate is the beginning of friendship. We chat with mate, bonds of friends get stronger.

Another day thanks to a photo a posted on my Instagram with a hashtag, a nice woman named Juane from Mendoza sended me  a message:

• Hi, I’ve seen your photos on Instagram, and I understand you’re in Mendoza right now. If you’re free, I’d like to meet and chat. I’m a traveler too, and I love how you create opportunities for yourself to travel.

When I checked at her account, I saw that she actually traveled many countries in North America and Europe.

• I am free tomorrow, we can meet and chat.

• But I’m a transgender, I would like you to know that.

• And I’m a heterosexual, nice to meet you.

• Hahah you are great, see you.

I’ve never met a transsexual person in my life before, never eat out, never have coffee and chat. I’m not a homophobic. Of course I had lots of questions to ask a person who is both transsexual and traveler. Anyway we met. To be honest, I wouldn’t have figured it out if he didn’t tell me before that he was a transgender. If you compare him with other woman, actually he was prettier than the most.

We talked about the geographies we visited, the countries we love, and the cultures. It was fun to talk to. There were a few things that I wondered when I learned about him. For example, if an individual decides to change the gender in Argentina, do the all expenses are paid by the government. Not only the operating costs, but all medical expenses before and after is paid by the government. There is no fears of exclusion or not finding a job in society. Argentina became the first country to accept same-sex marriage in South America. He lives the same troubles as every woman while traveling the world. While I was riding my bike from Mendoza to the south of South America, he would also travel to America and then to the Nordic countries. He was fun to have a chat with.

After Mendoza, I could go to Chile in 4 days. But it took me a while to try to cross the border. Upsala direction, there is a short cut, I would go to the mountains or something, but I could not cross the road. I had to go back. They have built a railroad, not like Ant-mountains, and then let this railroad go idle and let it rot and disappear. If this railroad was running nowadays, the legend would be a railroad. I hope they will bring the railway back from Buenos Aires to Santiago in the future.

After Mendoza, I could go to Chile in 4 days. But since I tried to use byroads, it took me a while to cross the border. To Upsala direction, there is a short cut, I thought I would go to the mountains or something, but they closer the road soI could not cross it. I had to go back. They have built an incredible railroad to Ant-mountains, and then they let it rot and disappear. If this railroad was running nowadays, it would have been a legend. I hope they will bring the railway back from Buenos Aires to Santiago in the future.

At a place I stayed on the road, I had the opportunity to how diffucult to buit a railroad. I was looking for a place to camp in the evening, I went to farm to get a permit, and I kearned it was like a hotel you rent from booking.com. They let me stay free because there was no customer and it was out of season. This place does not have a sign. You are 1,209 kilometers away from Buenos Aires, near the signboard, there is a big sign of MUSEO. So from the outside you couldnt understan that it was a hotel.

Along the way some towns have camping areas that can be accommodated for free. They are terrible about cleaning and maintenance, but at least it’s niceto spend the night with other campers.

One day I took a break at the gas station to breathe and take a few snacks before a town again, I was looking around and what? A tour cicyler. His name is Antonio, a butcher who is on his bicycle for the first time in his life. In the meantime, we don’t speak the same language. He speaks Spanish, I speak Turkish. We went to camping together. We’re building tents. He couldn’t set it up. First I showed him how to set up the tent, and then I set up the seat on his bike. He didn’t know how to use his gas hob, and I showed it to him.

(There are a lot of travelers and tour bikers who don’t know how to use gas stoves. Guys this are not child’s toys, you can harm yourself, the environment, or even others, as you would hurt yourself. Please search your gas stoves’ brand on youtube and learn how to use it.)

We dined. We returned back to our tents. After a while, I was almost asleep. Then I heard a roar, no no this was something else. A braying from the side tent. There was no way to describe this voice. I mean this was a different kind of snoring. I am sure everyone in the camping area heard it. I tried to cover my ears with silicone earplugs. But it was impossible it not to hear, it was going to go on like this till morning. The next day we set off after breakfast. Now his bike has thin tires, so entering into the terrain outside the asphalt would be a problem for him. I looked right  and saw on the right side of the main road a parallel road to the main road, somewhere in the middle of that the roads get together but at least I thought I would go faster than him. OK, he was a very nice people but sleeping also important on such journeys. If I can’t sleep at night, pedalling next day becomes a torture for me. So it would be better if I continiued my way alone.

• Antonio, I will use this dirt road, you go on the main road?

• Si si. ( Yeah)

He said his bike couldn’t get in, so we broke up. As I said above, it was really hard to find a road with no car traffic in Argentina, from Buenos Aires to Mendoza. I found some after Cordoba, but they were also connected to the main road in short time after Mendoza. Some people say travelling like this, makes you feel like in a therapy, it makes you calmer.. No actually I keep swearing. I didn’t see Antonio again that day. When I got to the town in the evening, I first went to the campsite, which was free. I thought he would definetely come here. It would be better to other campimg site even though it was mercenary. Later I found a campground which was pretty nice. I built my tent. Then hoooooppp Antonio came out as the hours passed.

He was happy to see me, we greeted each other I helped him build a tent. Then we made dinner again. I told him I was leaving early and we pulled back to the tents. I did not sleep well also that night. I couldn’t sleep, so it was easier to leave early in the morning. I tried not to make a sound while gathering. After I pack everything, I was on my way. When I was on the road, the tire exploded and there was a cable problem in the dynamo, it didn’t transmit electricity. While I eas reapairing it Antonio caught up with me. We sat down and had lunch together. Since he only had two bags in the back, his tempo was quite good, but then 8% slopes started on Mount Ant. Since I was in shape it didnt affect me and after a while Antonio was really far way from me. So I kept pedalling as fast as I could till night. I was going to set up the tent wherever I could find, I needed to sleep. After the lonely camp I spent the evening, I reached the point where the Argentina border crossing was.

After this point, you will either put your bike into the vehicle, pass through the 3 km long tunnels beneath the Ant Mountains, or you will immediately choose the dirt road on the left.

Let me give you the details of that road; Los Libertadores Pass,where commander San Martin spent his troops fighting for the freedom of the countries in South America, connects to where Christ The Redeemer of the Thees, the largest statue in the Ant Mountains. The scenery at this point is superb. If you are staying in Mendoza, you can come with tourist bus or you can go with your own car. The climbing is quite pleasant and the scenery is a beautiful place. When I reached the top, I went to the Chilean checkpoint after drinking my hot chocolate and passing across the mountain. The Argentine adventure is not over yet, this was only the first episode. I’ll go back to Argentina twice more until I get to the most extreme city of South America, Ushuaia.

In this first chapter I can say that I think the most beautiful meat I had on my tour was in this country. I mean does people born as meat cooking chefs in this country?. The taste of meatin each town was the same. The people are also very nice. Hugs and kisses, hospitality super ..

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