Not all clones are the same…
Archive for July, 2012
Bode and I decided it was finally time to wash off some of our travel-bum grunge. Angela, not so much.
We finally made it back to Buenos Aires and the familiar comfort of Rodi’s shop. We were held up by some sort of protest that seemed to clog up the entire city and block all the major streets. This is where the GPS comes in handy.
In Lanus, Rodi welcomed us back with incredible hospitality – we’re lucky to be here.
Red Beard is now safely garaged 50,000 or so miles from where we started. The bus will sit until mid-September, when we will return here to resume our assault on ‘living a normal life’. Until then, we’ll be back in the US visiting friends and family, working, and… maybe, temporarily living a more-ordinary life.
Only ten kilometers away from the ritzy campsite in Villa Elisa, is a completely free campsite on the river in San Jose. And, San Jose also has some nice hot springs of their own at a fraction of the price of Villa Elisa. And, it has hot water slides. It’s Bode’s new favorite thing.
The muni campsite here is set up for hundreds of campers, so it must fill up the in summer. It’s late fall, so we had it to ourselves. It was kind of eerie – like camping in a graveyard. But, we did rest in peace.
We figured a good way to get over our long and frustrating drive would be to relax at some hot springs – there are lots to choose from in this area.
Villa Elisa was recommended and it was nice. Too nice.
It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but has all the amenities. A golf course. Spas. And, really expensive camping near some hot pools.
We took a day to soak, work on a few projects, and make our list of things to do on our visit to the U.S. We’d like to make some improvements in the “quality of life” department when we return, so we’re inspecting everything and trying to figure out if we can make it better. We can certainly use more lighting (LEDs). Just about every meal we’re eaten in the past 3 years has come from a single cast iron skillet… and, well, I’m not sure we can improve on that. Stuff like that. Suggestions welcomed.
Also, we’ve heard that some folks aren’t seeing our Facebook posts. I think this is a new ‘feature’.
You’re not missing anything important, of course, but if you don’t see our posts, hover over the ‘LIKE’ (or ‘LIKED’) button on our page and make sure that you have selected ‘SHOW IN NEWS FEED’.
After a night camping at a familiar spot by the river in Yapeyu, we continued south towards B.A.
Not long ago, I had a map passed on from another traveler and they had written ‘BAD POLICE’ and circled this section of road in Entre Rios. I didn’t know if they meant corrupcion or if they were just bad at being police. It turns out… both.
We first entered Argentina about a year ago (!) and have driven all over the country – from north to south and back again… and have never seen anything quite as ridiculous as this. Police checkpoints are common in most South American countries, and we’re accustomed to the routine. In the rest of Argentina, the police are professional. Here… it’s something else.
I won’t rant and rave too much, but a few things are worth mentioning. We were pulled over at least 10 times in one day – maybe more. We were asked for all sorts of things we’ve never been asked for. Fire extinguishers -not required, but they insisted they were (we have one). Insurance – not required and never asked for it in over a year. International driver’s license – not required and they insisted I was in big trouble for not producing one. We were searched repeatedly. They would point at the wrong page in our passports and tell us we were in the country illegally, or that we had smuggled Bode. We were asked how much money we have – cash – many times. And, I kid you not… I was asked to open the front hood.
Each time I was polite and told them I was not doing anything wrong and indicated I knew the law. I politely showed the one guy that our engine was in the back and that the front didn’t open.
For the most part, these guys just seemed to be fucking with us. I don’t know how they would have gotten a bribe unless I was just an idiot and started throwing money at them. Driving this stretch of road is just a huge headache… until you actually do something wrong.
They have radars and cameras, and mobile ‘police offices’ – unseen anywhere else in Argentina. This is where I got caught actually breaking the law. I’m now a true international criminal.
After a brief stop to stretch our legs, I pulled back out on the carretera without turning on my headlights. A major violation. They got me.
First, we went through the tired old routine. I was driving illegally without an international permit. We had illegally entered the country, etc, etc. We were in big trouble. We were searched. They wanted to know how much cash we had (answer: none) and insisted we must be carrying plenty of cash. After 30 minutes of explaining away all of our other major offenses, I was left with one thing – what I was actually doing wrong – the headlights.
These yahoos insisted it was an 800 peso (about $200 USD) fine and they would impound the car if I didn’t pay up immediately. They insisted it was all on camera (doubtful) and there was no possible way they could let me off without paying. Another 10 minutes went by and suddenly the multa went down to 400 pesos, and they continued to insist that there is no possible way I can be traveling without that kind of money because of all the toll booths (they’re actually pretty good at this). I continued to deny I had any money and couldn’t pay and insisted on a written ticket.
Almost an hour after getting stopped, I walked out of their mobile police office with a written ticket for 114 pesos. I slapped down my exact change and they gave me a receipt without saying a word.
Note: there are also federal checkpoints with military guys in green uniforms – these guys are legit. Just watch out for the local yahoos.
Done with Paraguay. We liked it. We had no real expectations or plans going in, and I think that almost always leads to having a good trip.
Before heading out, we had a few more things on the list. Sushi in Encarnacion- restaurant Hiroshima – recommended. Picked up some bus stuff – a new battery for the solar panel, a new headlight lente, some oil, etc. Fill the tank. Fill the jerry cans. Be sure and buy anything you need before crossing back into Argentina.
At the camp site, Bode helped me un-stick my rear brake adjusters. And, when the clouds finally parted, we started our camp fire with a magnifying glass. Things you don’t learn in school.
Aside from the visa limitations for Brazil, we’re not entered Brazil right now because we have plans to go back to the US from Buenos Aires. So, one more border crossing.
This would be the 3rd time that we’ve said it’s the last time we’re entering Argentina. Never say never, I guess.