Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chasing the Dakar II

Following the "Tucuan"  I use a cool app on my iPhone called World Explorer that returns the most popular tourist sites to see for a given city. The results are rated (somehow...perhaps by elfin magic), ordered by distance from the city center and the locations can be viewed as pin points on a map. After checking out the results for Tucuman, I decided to see the local modern art museum Museo Timoteo Navarro before leaving town. The museum has very nice wooden doors, which do not open to visitors on Monday...
My travel companion Pablo does not share my interest in art and had gone ahead to the next Dakar Rally stage, Rioja. After lunch I followed on a more leisurely pace, stopping now and then to take photos. I grew up in rural southeast Pennsylvania the Amishgrow tobacco and it is dried in barns. This sure looks like tobacco, but the shed is made of bamboo. Way cool.

These photos are classic misty mountains, I just can't resist taking them.

On arriving in Rioja, AR, we learned that next race starts in Cordoba, follows off road dirt course for the first half of the race, then goes on the highway for the last half, ending in Rioja, where we are in position. Sadly the racers must follow posted speed limits on the public roads, so the end of the race won't be very exciting. I learned that the actual route is kept secret until the day of the stage, so the racers have equal knowledge of the course. This makes it hard for spectators get in position beforehand. We skipped riding all the way to Cordoba, only to find out that is where the dirt action happens closer to Cordoba,then the contestants motor to Rioja where they spend the night and repair for the next day.

My riding companion, Pablo, met me in Rioja. Through personal connections he was able to get me a pass into the Dakar Rally bivouac at Rioja. Passes into the secure compound are hard to get. The plastic wristband includes a RFID chip that is checked by security as you enter the bivouac. Each night the contestants repair their vehicles.

Here is a clip from the Fiambala stage and a water crossing north of Belem:

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