January 31, 2006
Driving from Buenos Aires to SaltaThe road trip from Buenos Aires to Salta started out fabulously with an attempt by two friendly Buenos Aires police officers to shake us down for some cash. They went through all the moves with textbook precision. Stern look, ask for papers, mention of which infraction they picked, matter-of-fact explanation of where we would get to pay the fine to be able to pick up the car again after they have it impounded. It was all there... the thoughtful look when delaying the call to headquarters and pulling out the form to report the infraction, etc. Then came the asking look, at which I felt obliged to do my part and ask if there might not be an easier solution... I promised to have a new license plate made right away, and come back to show it to them... That I'd really rather not be delayed a whole day because I have to visit my lawyer friend tonight... etc. This is where the police officer usually starts talking about his family that he needed to support -- and, yes, of course. 2 kids. Any contributions would be completely voluntary, he said. I briefly considered giving him something, but then had to agree with Robyn that there is no need to encourage corruption, so I just thanked him for being nice to tourists. We spent the night at Herman and Cande's house.
On day two, a gas station attendant put diesel into the gas tank while I was busy spacing out, and we spend a fun half hour with the gas station mechanics to empty the tank again. It contained 75l of diesel and 20l of gas, which were dumped back into the station's diesel tank. Don't buy any diesel there in the next few days.
During the next couple days, the crappy fuel line that a shop in Salta had put on a year before disintegrated in 3 steps, requiring 3 stops fixing it with increasingly durable fuel lines.
We did not make it Cordoba that day, and stayed in Oliva, a small town 100km before.
City of my dreams. I wish I could move there, but I forgot where it was. Somewhere between Cordoba and Tucuman, is my best guess.
Night two was spent in downtown Tucuman, city of bad drivers, abundant pharmacies, and lots of history. Seriously, the place seems to have more pharmacies than internet places, which is remarkable in Argentina. Google confirms that pharmacies are 2.5 more important in Tucuman than they are in the city of Rosario:
|City||Hits(<cityname> farmacia)||Hits(<cityname> restaurante)||Pharmacies / Restaurant Ratio|
However, there are also restaurants in Tucuman, and we had a nice dinner (at 10pm -- we were the first food customers of the day... life doesn't start until 10.30pm)
From Tucuman we drove directly to the Juramento river to my friend Grillo's rafting base. The area has an annual butterfly infestation -- the pictures don't do it justice, not even when you enlarge it. It was like driving through a snowstorm of butterflies.