Wanting to leave the city behind, I took a day ride north to see a different area of the state of Córdoba. My host, Martin, mentioned a few places to the north that were worth riding to so I picked one and headed out.
I forgot to charge my GPS battery so my exit out of the city was extended by an additional 45 minutes of missing turns and turning around. I eventually found highway 73 and headed into the mountains. Once again, the trees in the area were warming up for their autumn performance. Riding by rivers and lakes, it was a beautiful place to be riding and on a perfectly sunny day.
I rode one hour north on highway 38 until I arrived in the small town of La Falda. Small Argentine towns like this are the best. Large enough that there’s something going on but small enough to still have that small town charm. I parked the bike on one of the main streets and sat at a cafe for lunch. I ordered one of the common menu items here, the super pancho. Don’t get too excited. It’s just a hot dog. I didn’t think it was all that super so I didn’t think to take a photo of it. One thing that stands out with hot dogs (panchos) here is they usually come with potato sticks or as they say, “lluvia de papa” which means potato rain.
I stopped in the tourism office and asked for a map of the area that would show me what roads were unpaved and distances. I took a paved road out of town for a few minutes until I saw a sign for Siete Cascadas (seven waterfalls). The area around the waterfalls has been turned into a beautiful park. A small restaurant, swimming pools, and waterslide help keep the locals cool during the hot summer months. Since it was the middle of the week and in autumn, the place was dead. It was probably better this way. Just a quiet natural park mostly to myself for the afternoon.
Wanting to see more of the area, I jumped back on the bike and started riding. I checked a map and found a road out into the countryside that looped back to the highway I came in on. I began the adventure. I almost turned around within the first five minutes as a few miles past the waterfalls is an area that seems to have become a dumping site for everyone’s trash. It was a surprise to see as dumping doesn’t seem to be a common thing here. But I rode past piles of trash and burning trash for a mile or two down this dirt road. I kept riding to see what was further ahead and was glad I did. This quiet dirt farm road was picture perfect.
When I turned left and started making my way back towards the highway, the farm road turned to crap. It was completely rutted out from large farm equipment riding down it after a heavy rain. Deep ruts would show up out of nowhere so I slowed down to first gear riding through the soft dirt. I made it back to the paved highway after an hour. The sun was getting lower in the sky which told me it was time to stop by a cafe for a coffee and pastry, my daily afternoon routine. When I’m on the road, the YPF gas stations are my favorite cafes to stop at. Wifi, comfy lounge chairs, and cheap but tasty coffee.
As I was riding back into Córdoba I saw a sign for a car/moto wash. It cost only 30 pesos (less than $3) for a wash so I stopped. A teenage boy came out and got working on my motorcycle. I was thinking it’d be a quick 5 minute job but he ended up spending 45 minutes cleaning every inch of my dirty moto. I hadn’t washed it since the salt flats in Bolivia three months earlier so it was dirty. When he finished washing it, he dried the whole bike, then polished the wheels, tires, and the plastics. I couldn’t believe how hard he worked. When it was all finished I handed him 100 pesos and said thanks for doing such a great job. The service was so good I wanted to tip the kid but when I told him the change was for him as a tip his jaw dropped. He looked over at his boss seeking approval Luckily his boss nodded to say it was fine. He smiled and I gave a few honks as I rode away. Later, Martin mentioned that it was probably the first tip he’d ever received as it’s not customary down there to tip them. I hope that kid does well. If he works as hard as he did on my bike he’ll be fine if given the opportunity.