Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

Motorcycle trip day 2: Jesus Maria to Monteros

November 21, 2011
road route 60 argentina

(If you're just coming to the blog and want to read from the beginning of the trip, start here.)

Day 2: Jesus Maria to Monteros
Distance: 580 kilometers

Sometimes it helps to open the curtains. We woke up in our motel in Jesus Maria and rainproofed our gear, though we fully expected bright sunny skies. Only once we were finished, with our rain clothes packed away, did we leave our room for breakfast and discover the rain pouring down. We had a few doubts about the feasibility of our itinerary, which depended covering a lot of ground on day 2 to make it to the northwest, but we headed out anyway. A hotel employee had assured us it would only rain for 100 kilometers (how he could know this we weren't sure).

harley davidson street glide rain gear
Our bike outfitted for the weather
I couldn't tell you anything about the landscape for the first hour. I remember that we turned on the right road and that it rained. But our rain gear did a remarkably good job (and I tied plastic bags around my feet) and about an hour later, we pulled into a gas station in Dean Funes to warm up. 

This was where we discovered the wonder of Argentine gas stations. Called service stations, they're outfitted as pit stops for travelers, with free public bathrooms (often cleaner than restaurant bathrooms), cafe services, snack foods and even hot water dispensers for mate. At the station in Dean Funes, we ordered hot chocolate with turned out to be warm milk with chocolate melted at the bottom (yum). During the trip, we ate several breakfasts at gas stations and regularly relied on them for our caffeine fix. American gas stations would do well to copy the Argentine model.

And happily once we got back on the road, the rain stopped. We had gotten off the national highway from the previous day, and were on a slightly more winding one-lane road headed north. We first wove our way between the Sierras of Cordoba, passing shimmering salt flats off to the left (we were heading to bigger salt flats later, so we didn't stop). The salt seemed to have killed most of the vegetation, so once we were out of the mountains, we passed through mostly open plains, with only shrubs as vegetation. That created a fierce side wind, and I often had to hold onto my helmet to prevent my neck from getting twisted around, but after our 800-kilometer trek yesterday, the day's ride didn't seem nearly as daunting.

cows argentina route 60

Interestingly, after the endless fields around Buenos Aires, we saw very little farmland in this stretch. Every so often we'd pass through small towns, mostly made of shanty houses. It made me wonder what the people there do for a livelihood.

At around 6pm, we pulled into our destination for the night. There's nothing special in Monteros, but it was the closest town to our route for the next day. We found a private campground (Camping Torrojones) with nice amenities (a covered area where we could cook and park the bike, and soft ground for our tent). We cooked up pasta with pesto, and some tea, and settled into our tent for an early night. And then the rain, which we had been racing all day, arrived. Ben bought the tent in '06 and its rain cover doesn't work very well anymore, but fortunately the additional tarp we brought along (tied down on top of the tent) kept us mostly dry. The rain stopped just in time for us to head out dry the next morning.

- Steph

MSR Whisperlite International camping stove north face tent camping argentina

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