The start of our great motorcycle adventure.
(Some background if you're starting here: Planning our motorcycle trip.)
We've broken our blog posts up day by day, with photos to go along with each. We hope you'll enjoy them, and that they might serve useful for future travelers who stumble across them.
Day 1: Buenos Aires to Jesus Maria (via Rosario and Cordoba)
Distance: 800 kilometers
We made ourselves a big hearty breakfast of French toast and coffee to start off the trip, then loaded up the bike. When I had asked the doorman whether we could park in our building's garage, he had said it wasn't possible. But then, following some advice from our landlord, Ben asked the doorman how much it costs to park for a night. Fifty pesos (about $12) later, we had a key.
We got much better at packing the bike as the trip went on. We were carrying a tent, two sleeping bags, a camping stove and food supplies, motorcycle tools, clothes for two people and other assorted necessities. So plenty of stuff. Our bike came with two hard side cases, and a rear rack for luggage. We eventually figured out a system where our spare water and camping supplies were tied to the back of the bike with bungee cords and cargo nets, and the stuff we needed during the day (rain gear, food, sunscreen, etc.) was in the side compartments.
We rode 800 kilometers on day 1, which took us much longer than we had expected, and didn't arrive in Jesus Maria until after dark (about 11 hours from start to stop). Our route took us northwest through Rosario, past Cordoba on Route 9 (a fast two-lane national highway). The highway was pretty straight and boring and very windy, and mostly surrounded by plains and more plains. The gas stations were much further apart than we expected for such a major highway. And the road signs often don't provide much warning, so rather than taking the highway around Rosario, we ended up driving straight into the city. From what we saw, it doesn't seem like a place worth stopping. We ate lunch quickly, and then were on our way.
But we did learn one essential thing in Rosario — if you are driving a Harley Davidson bike in Argentina, you are going to get oggled. As we ate our sandwiches, several people stopped just to stare at the bike. A father and son even pulled up behind it in their car and sat there looking for several minutes. All along the trip, wherever we were, people would come over to look and ask if it was a Harley. The government has currently blocked Harley imports, and even when it's legal to buy them, they're very expensive. So we were quite the oddity.
We had chosen to camp in Jesus Maria because it's part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. But unless you feel strongly about seeing Jesuit missions, it probably isn't the best way-station. The town is nothing special and the lodging is expensive (we couldn't find the campsites, so we ended up paying $60 for what was essentially a dinky motel room).
A good first day overall, though nothing spectacular, and we were excited to get out of the pampas and onto the more exciting roads and landscapes.