DAY 711 - Ruta 40 (NORTH)
Day 711 - Abra del Acay, Argentina - 15415 km
Ruta 40 is Argentina’s longest highway that crosses the entire country along the Andes from north to south. I enter the road near its highest point on the altiplano, where it’s still a quiet dirt track.
It’s starting to get cold as I make progress south. At noon the sun is much lower in the sky and shines on my back from the north. I even don’t have to protect my face with sun screen anymore. Especially the nights are cold. I bought an extra foam matt as a back up to my inflatable mattress, which doesn’t have any insulation.
From San Antonia de las Cobres I’m going up to the last high pass on this journey, Abra del Acay at 4950 meters. After this the Andes slowly mellows down. Still many hill are to be climbed, but not this high anymore. After the pass I meet a fox, of which I had heard about from other travellers. People feed him (which they shouldn't) so it keeps returning to the road if it sees people. I didn't notice him on the pass, but on the downhill I found him chasing some guanaco's and he ran along with me. I let him come too close , before I knew it he snatched the trash from my front rack.
Down the in the valley the country becomes warmer and friendlier. I’m on the ‘Ruta del Vino’ (Wine Route). I spend a night on the campsite of Martine (Germany) and Johan (South Africa), two long term motor bikers who decided to stop travelling and settle in Argentina. 2,5 years ago they bought a small piece of land along Ruta 40 and built a new life off the grid from scratch.
I always admire these kind of pioneers living a unique lifestyle, of which i met a few. Kent & Joy living in the middle of a pine forest in Washington, Albert’s organic farm in Califoria, Len’s tiny houses in New Mexico, Alberto’s magic garden in Los Angeles and the Dammer family in Ecuador. It’s a distant dream of me to buy a some land and built a my own house one day.
Martine and Johan are in an early stage. They’ve just finished the house, which is not more than a large round bedroom, made of cob. They’re currently working on growing their own grapes for wine and are planning to built some beehives. The great thing of having such a remote property in a country like Argentina is that there are little planning regulations and you are free to built what you like. Running water is the only provided resource, electricity has to be retrieved from sun panels.
There are some other “overlanders”, also from South Africa, who stay a couple of days. We are well taken care off. After long travels through India, Martine makes a great Indian curry, served with South African ‘vetkoek’, similar as the Dutch' ‘oliebol.’