Friday, November 25, 2011

Road to Iguazu falls, 4500 kilometers in a week and corrupt cops in Entre Rios

From Argentina's deep south to the top north as this week we've put on over 4500km. Most of the driving has been on ruta 3 along the coast then we detoured around the capital and joined ruta 12. Now we have heard stories of bad police in Argentina, but I never expected to encounter it ourselves because we have been traveling over 3 months in the country and only had good experience. That all changed when we entered the province of Entre Rios, on a stretch of a 200km's multilane hwy. We got stopped 3 times, the first time they told me I was speeding (I probably was speeding because speed signs changes from 130km to 80 at the merging lanes) but they weren't overly concern about that, it was the bikes on the back that they called an "infraction". The first guy in the motorhome office was using google translate to explain to me that I would have to pay $200 usd, now!. After going back and forth he finally gave up and told me to go to the next room and the next guy I guess was the final negotiator. He explained calmly our infraction with pictures and told us we had an option to pay $200 at the banks or $100 here and now. Again I told him we don't have that much money, than he asked "how much can you pay?" and Jieun opens her wallet and says "7 pesos" he smiled and told us good bye.

second stop that held us up for over a half hour and its corrupt captain behind desk
lieutenant that didn't like us taking pictures and told us to pay in US dollars  
After that experience were both kinda shocked it happen, now watching my speed at the merging lanes we get stopped again. This time they mention nothing about the bikes and asked to see our fire extinguisher, when we showed him he took it to show his captain and the captain immediately told his lieutenant to take pictures and give us ticket. The reason for the ticket was our extinguisher didn't have a dial indicator and we would again have to pay $200 usd at the bank or just them directly $100 on the spot. We went on back and forth until I told him to just give me the ticket for $200 usd. He was reluctant to fill out the ticket and told his captain but captain keep on pushing him to try to get money from us. Finally we told him we have to leave and give us the ticket please. He fills out the ticket but the amount shows only 125 pesos. So from $200 usd to $100 usd and finally 125 pesos, we left thinking this place is crazy. Third times a charm a woman officer stops us and tells us its an infraction to have bikes on the back, she takes our information into the office this time a real station and the captain comes out and tells us to get some red flags and tie them up to the bike rack, now thats nice a warning and some advice. Finally we exit Entre Rios and the only thing were thinking is we have to drive on this road again.

saying goodbye to our trusty bikes hope he gets as much travel as we did 
In Puerto Iguazu and we decided to try and eliminate our stress of Entre Rios and gave our bikes away to a young shoeless boy that was working at a supermarket parking lot watching cars. He had a smile from side to side and then told us about his poor older brother that works on farm so we just gave both bikes in hopes he and his family will get good use from them. With that out of the way our minds are back on visiting Iguazu Falls. It boarders on 3 countries Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina and has just recently became a new 7 natural wonder of the world. We headed to the falls early next morning with 2 bike travelers we meet at our campsite. Ariel an Argentinean and Andrei from Romania. The cost of the park is $100 pesos and $25 for parking. It was a really hot and sunny day so seeing the falls was ideal because your on top of the falls and the spray just soaks you and cools you off. Water was kinda of muddy from the eroding land, the falls are a huge U shape water fall with lots of small falls on the sides with viewing trails around. For an extra $120 peso we took a boat ride into the falls it was crazy exciting and the tour calls it the "shower" because thats what it feels like you had after.   

too much mist that eventually stopped our waterproof camera
Andrei and Ariel 2 bicycle from different parts of the world and meeting here

no pot of gold but a great boat ride at the end

2 sisters water fall
our camera failed after this shot, but started up again when it counted in the falls

don't ask, looks like I saw the ghost from the movie Ring
After 2 days in Iguazu, we have come to the conclusion its too difficult to sell our Sienna and will now ship our  van to Florida and drive back home. We have already contacted a shipping line and will meet with them when we get to Buenos Aires.