June 21, later today, Monte Quemado, Argentina
Today I had my first, and hopefully only, accident of the whole trip. I was about 240 miles northwest of Corrientes, still 35 miles from Monte Quemado, and it had been a long day of mostly good highway with a few rough spots where they were rebuilding the highway. In most of the construction areas the pavement was broken up with areas of gravel mixed with dirt between the pavement islands. I arrived at an area with no pavement or gravel, just a section of that red clay-like dirt which had been flattened out and wetted down shortly before I reached it. The smooth, slippery, wet clay surface might as well have been ice, and when it slanted to the right I went down fast on my left side.
I don't remember falling, only sliding along with my bike and my left ankle hurt in a way that wasn't extremely bad, because of that initial numbing effect of shock and adrenalin, but I knew it would hurt much worse later. I was only going about 25mph but probably slid somewhere between 20 - 30 feet because of the incredibly slippery surface. As soon as the bike stopped I hit the kill switch, because it was still running, and made sure that no traffic was coming at me. The only traffic was a large Shell Oil tanker coming from the opposite direction and he was just coming to a stop. I started trying to pick up my motorcycle but I was a little shaken and I couldn't get enough traction in the slippery clay to pick up the bike and I couldn't put any weight on my left ankle, but before I had the chance to make a really good effort I realized that the guy from the tanker had jumped out of his truck to help me.
We picked up the bike and the 10-15 construction workers who had run over to help, walked me and my bike back to firm, packed-gravel ground where I made a quick check of everything, got myself together, thanked everyone and continued riding on to this $7.00 hotel called "9 de Julio, Hotel Comedor".
You'll never see that hotel name in any guide books and you probably won't see this town's name on most maps but here I am. The sign for this hotel was on the main highway but I couldn't find the actual hotel because the electricity was off in this section of town but some guy in the grocery store, where they had electricity, said he'd lead me here. I would have never found it on my own because with or without electricity the front looked like everything else on the street, except for the broken sign that looks like it has been grown over by trees for years. I limped around for an hour, waiting for the electricity to come on so they could prepare a room for me, which took another half an hour.
It's late and my left ankle, right shin and right wrist hurt from the spill and I need to get to my "U" shaped musty mattress and get some sleep so I can make it to Salta tomorrow...
June 23, Salta, Argentina
Yesterday I arrived in Salta about 4:00, found a hotel, then found a medical clinic to make sure there wasn't anything seriously wrong with my ankle. It was $7.00 to talk with some nurse/doctor/intern/whatever person, $17.00 for X-rays and X-ray review with the same guy. Finding out that nothing was broken so I won't have to learn to ride my motorcycle with a cast; priceless. They let me keep the X-rays which seemed pretty cool for a second but then I remembered that whenever I've seen other peoples' X-rays they only seemed cool because something was broken and you could see it. There's nothing cool about an X-ray where nothing is broken so I limped myself out of the clinic with the same degree of coolness I had when I limped in.
The highway between Monte Quemado and Salta was perfect, which was helpful because it hurts like hell every time I have to shift gears. The cops continue to be fine but I was a little worried when I was stopped about 40 miles after leaving Monte Quemado at a checkpoint with one young cop and one big fat cop whose shirt was unbuttoned well below his man-boobs. The less professional they're dressed, the more likely they are to bribe you. There happened to be a handful of cars passing by at the time so he just asked me questions about my trip and the motorcycle, which is probably what he would have done anyway but it's the first time in quite a while that I've even thought there was a chance of bad-cop bribery-BS.
My right shin just looks like some small animal took several bites out of it and my wrist will be fine. Mr. $7.00 says I need to not walk for a couple of days and ice down the ankle. Salta looks like a good city to be stuck in for a couple of days with lots of old colonial architecture and other things to photograph.