Monthly Archives: January 2013

29-01-2013 Buenos Aires I

A VIP treatment is what I got from Gabriel’s family. After breakfast I prepared to leave. I decided to leave my motor boots, whom I only used this trip. They’re still practically new and Gabriel’s size. I hope he can use them. It was hard to say goodbye but I was pressed for time.

Buenos Aires was only some 270 km away and the trip went well. It was hot again though. On internet, I found a website about people who help motorcycle travellers with advice, accommodation and parts.聽
he Garmin led me to their address without problems. Javier apologised for not being able to offer accommodation due to water problems. When I told him that communication with the shipping company that I had, took forever, he nodded and said that I was probably too late anyway to get everything sorted and advised me to postpone my flight. Then he calculated the price for air cargo and I noticed that it wasn’t much more expensive than Roll-on/Roll-off shipping. He made a couple of phone calls and as it appeared, the bike could be dropped of at the airport, and all formalities taken care off before my own flight home. All of this, provided that my documents were perfectly in order and customs were not making trouble, and I paid the full amount in time.

I decided that this was my best option and agreed. Javier set the wheels in motion, and later that day, his wife Sandra returned and confirmed everything. Tomorrow, I will need to go to the airport and their contact will help me deal with customs.
Sandra then arranged a hostel in the city for me and told me to stay in touch.

I found my way to the hostel and parked the bike inside, manoeuvring on millimetres to get it in the cramped space. The evening I spent on repacking everything so that only motorbike related stuff was in the top case and tank bag.

After this exhausting day, I slept really quickly. Tomorrow is the last ride of my XTZ on this continent for this trip.

28-01-2013 Rosario

Sleeping in a hostel, means consideration for your roommates. When I got up early this morning I packed as quietly as I could. After dragging everything downstairs, I picked up the bike from the guarded parking and packed it. When I wanted to pay, I got a big smile and the message that I was a friend of the boss and the one night accommodation was for free. 馃檪 聽 Such nice people in Argentina.

The sky was clouded and it was a good temperature. I even thought it might rain, but it didn’t. Approximately 55 km out of C贸rdoba I suddenly realised that I forgot my phone in the hostel. Although the phone didn’t contain sensitive information, I did turn around and went back to the hostel. Right where I left it, I found it. And away I went for the 2nd time….

The sun came out and it got hot… really hot, when I reached Rosario. I went to the address that Gabriel gave me but there was no answer to my knocking. So I went to explore a little and buy some chain spray. I also got the bike washed by 5 youngsters who ran a car wash together. They did an excellent job, and I can’t remember the last time it was this clean 馃檪


When I tried the address again, Gabriel heard my motorbike approaching and opened the door to what appeared to be his workshop. A big collection of motorbikes was parked inside. His pride and joy: a Kawasaki Z1000 from the early nineties. I followed him home where I met the rest of the family again, plus Florencia’s boyfriend Mart铆n. I was soaked from sweating and was somewhat embarrassed. Fernanda offered me the bathroom for a shower and even washed my clothes quickly…. Heaven, I tell you… 馃檪
This was so nice and hospitable. After having talked for a little while, Gabriel offered me tour of the city, which I accepted with a smile off course. He showed me beautiful parts of the city and the river.


Back at their home, Gabriel made asado, the Argentinean way of cooking meat outside like BBQ, but different. We talked a lot and I felt more and more confident in understanding and speaking Spanish. Fortunately Florencia was always prepared to translate whenever my efforts were in vain. Even Agustin helped out from time to time. Despite the unpleasant heat, it was a great and wonderful day. And the bike slept safe inside their garage. 馃槈


27-01-2013 C贸rdoba

Saturday night it was last night and it just so happened that there was a summer party on the circuit that lasted the entire night until 07:00 this morning. Needless to say, I did not sleep all that much. Nonetheless I got up at 07:00 and was ready to go by 08:40.

It was nice and cool (not cold) when I rode out the first few hours. I stopped somewhere on the way to try and help out a family that needed a screwdriver to fix a coolant hose in their broken down car. It only took 5 minutes and I was on my way again. Gradually it got warmer ….. 聽and warmer. Fortunately the road headed for the mountains where it was cooler. It climbed to 2200 meters where the wind was lovely cool. 馃檪


Riding through the mountains always put a smile on my face, providing I don’t get stuck behind people who either simply can’t go faster, or deliberately do not WANT to go faster.
The winding roads are always a joy.


Going down however, meant it was going to warm up again.聽By the time I reached C贸rdoba the wind was so warm that it felt like being back in Peru, in the desert. It was about 34掳 Celsius. It felt like 40掳
After I filled up on fuel I rode deeper in to the city. Then I spotted a MacDonalds. Something you don’t often see in South America. I had been craving an ice cold milkshake for weeks now. Yes, I pulled over 馃榾

The weirdest thing happened: MacDonalds in Argentina doesn’t know what a milkshake is. I got an icecream with pieces of strawberry…… 驴驴驴???
Suddenly this man walks up to me and addresses me in Dutch…. Wow. That was unexpected. Max had seen me in the mountains when I stopped for a simple lunch of apples and a banana, and now recognised my motorbike with the Dutch license plate. He told me he lived in the Netherlands for a year and still uses Dutch for work occasionally. 聽He went up to the counter and checked whether or not MacDonalds really didn’t know about milkshakes or whether it would have been my poor Spanish. Indeed they don’t know milkshakes.

Max directed me to a hostel that is owned by a friend of his and told me where to get milkshakes (not MacDonalds). Several minutes later I found the hostel and checked in. Afterwards I went in to the city to shoot some pictures, get some cash and got my long desired milkshake.

Tomorrow I will go to Rosario and see if I can meet up with Gabriel and his family.


26-01-2013 San Luis 2nd day…. in fact Potrero De Los Funes

Today is about maintenance and laundry.
First I wanted to find a laundry place that was open on Saturdays and could do my few items the same day. I rode the 10 km from the camping in聽Potrero De Los Funes to San Luis and started to ask around. After some 20 minutes and several helpful people later, I did find one. Not the cheapest, but it would be done today.

On the way back I bought some food for tonight and made my way to the camping. The camping Playa Blanca is actually situated at a real racing circuit around a lake,聽Circuito del Lago. At the camping I checked my drive chain and found it way too lose. Even before I left for this trip, I knew it might only just make it until the end. It’s wearing out. I had to adjust it quite a bit. I also noticed that my chain lube system was stuffed. I tried to fix it, but since most my tools were stolen in Peru, I couldn’t solve it. Eventually I just poured engine oil over the chain, just to lube it somehow.

On the camping I met this lovely family, from whom the father (Gabriel) was really happy to talk all about my trip, the motorbike and as it turned out, he himself is a motorcycle mechanic. His daughter Florencia more often than not, helped out by translating to and from English. My Spanish really is too inadequate to have a full conversation. 馃槮
Apparently they are from Rosario, a city on my route to Buenos Aires. I will most probably visit them there on Monday when they have returned for work.
For me C贸rdoba is the next destination, then Rosario.

In the afternoon I picked up my laundry and back at the camping tried to get as much of my gear in to the shade. It was very hot, and everything in my tent was cooking. Although I watched myself by not being in the sun too much, I got sunburned after all.

Tomorrow I will try and leave early in the cool of the morning. C贸rdoba is only some 350 km from here.


25-01-2013 San Luis

New day, new story. The total opposite of yesterday.
Stepping outside my nice motel room this morning, found me wondering what happened over night…. 聽 A perfectly clear blue sky smiled at me, urging me to get moving… 馃槈
The temperature was perfect; not too warm so not much chance of getting drowsy.

I started at an easy pace and noticed that the wind had not gone but was not as fierce as yesterday. The surface of the road left something to be desired as well at times. Other than that, everything was A-OK.
After a while I started noticing how green everything was in this part of Argentina. The prairie, pampas, trees, meadows, crops, water….. Well, not the water, but everything else: 50 shades of green…. 聽:-p

Santa Rosa was my initial destination for today, but I already got there at 12:15, so I simply kept going. The sky showed maybe 5 little white clouds over the whole day. Some of the wildlife I spotted today, include emus, flamingos, an assortment of birds of pray, like falcons and hawks, a medium sized lizard, an ocelot or other medium sized feline, a couple of small owls and of course countless bugs that are splattered all over my vizor, clothes and motorbike… 馃槈 聽 What a perfect day. After 820 km I ended up in San Luis, my initial destination for tomorrow. Some body parts were truly sore by now. I will be camping here for 2 days under a full moon. Tomorrow will be a rest day and sunday I will ride for Cordoba I think……




24-01-2013 Rio Colorado

I knew straight away when I woke up this morning: this is going to be one of those lesser days. I looked outside: It rained heavily! Waiting for the rain to stop could take all day, so at a certain point I packed everything on the bike and took off when the rain didn’t come down quite as hard. The sky was filled with a blanket of dark clouds as far as the eye could see. On top of that the fierce winds joined up with the rain. When the rain intermittedly seized, the wind wouldn’t. Many roadworks resulted in huge clouds of dusts, swept up by the wind. It was a battle against the elements.


Finally the clouds broke and some sunshine came through. When the road changed direction, the wind wasn’t continuously trying to blow my tyres from under my bike anymore. Then it was time to fuel up. The fuel station in the midst of nothing had a ridiculous long line of people waiting their turn. I joined up and next to me appeared a Honda Africa Twin with 2 people and a lot of luggage on it. We chatted about our journeys in Spanish for as far as I could manage. Very slowly, the line got smaller. Then the winds and the clouds that we out-ran, caught up with us. It felt like being sandblasted at times and we put our helmets back on, just to protect our faces.


For the rest of the trip today, the winds were always there, and the rain was never far away.

When I arrived in Rio Colorado, the first thing I did was look for a fuel station where I could pay with credit card. As it happened, none of the 7 fuel stations in and around this town accepted credit cards !!!! The fuel station earlier today didn’t either. What is so difficult about credit cards in this part of Argentina? The next thing was finding a hostel or hotel. Finally the 4th one I tried had reasonable prices and WiFi.

After settling in, I checked the oil level of the bike, which was fine. Then I wanted to head out for diner. Just a tad to slow I rode of the walk way in front of my room…… I dropped the bike…. 馃槮 on the right side this time. When picking it back up, a part of my windscreen broke off. Fortunately I bought new duct tape when I was in Chile. The piece that came of the windscreen is back in to place, held by duct tape.

In the restaurant the waiter spoke聽Spanish聽so fast, that I really could not understand what he was saying, no matter how hard I tried. Apparently he assumed that I agreed to whatever changes he suggested to my order. The result was undercooked meat with a lot of bone. At least the salad was how I wanted it. The bill was absolutely not.

Nope, this was not one of my better days. I’m happy that I had few of these and many great days.

We’ll see where the road takes me tomorrow.

23-01-2013 Puerto Madryn

Planning to be on the road in time, is an every day resolution; today however, I managed to be on my way by 08:15. All ready to do the 600 km to the Atlantic coast, I fired up the XTZ and rode out of town. It was a lot colder than I anticipated and the strong winds were back, but I was too stubborn to stop and put the lining in my jacket. By 10:30 I stopped for the first time to fill up on fuel. Leaving the fuel station, I noticed some blue in the sky and less than half an hour later the sun was out and it was nice.

Also, the landscape changed from no more than scrubbery and rock to green trees, winding streams and impressive rock formations with the signs of ages. It had some resemblance with Grand Canyon in the U.S.聽 It looked quite amazing!!聽 I just had to stop to take a few pictures.


What I did not realise, was that there are emu’s in Argentina. Along the side of the road, I must have spotted ay least half a dozen.
The road from Esquel in the mountains to Rawson at the Atlantic coast is named RN25, where RN stands for Route Nacional. You’d expect a highway with a name like that, however it’s a 2 lane road which is at times rather narrow and of poor quality. Intentions to improve seem well on their way however. At 3 quarters of the route eastwards, they re-surfaced the road with smooth asphalt and made it wider. It was a real joy riding on what felt as smooth as a billiard table鈥︹.. (I imagine; I’ve never ridden on a billiard table) 馃槈

Puerto Madryn is a coastal town, not very impressive at first and I wondered why there are plenty of hostels. As it seems, whale watching and diving is a major attraction here.
The first hostel I tried, offered me a room for ARS 400, which comes down to 鈧 60 !!!! Not a hotel but a hoStel !!聽 The next one I tried wasn’t cheap either, but I talked them down to ARS 200. At least a bed, a private bathroom, WiFi and breakfast the next day will be greatly appreciated. 3 Days behind on mail may not seem like a big deal and normally it isn’t, but I’m still negotiating the return shipping of the motorbike, so it is handy to stay in touch with the shipping co.

Destination for tomorrow is Rio Colorado.

22-01-2013 Esquel

My alarm went off at the usual time and I got up at 06:30.
By 08:30 I was completely packed and ready to go while the amigo’s were still sound asleep.
Carefully I woke them up and explained that I did want to reach Esquel today and really wanted to get going. We said our goodbyes and I thanked them for everything.


I continued the journey further along the lakes and enjoyed the views more than a little聽 馃槈




After a while I noticed something weird when leaning in to bends鈥. my suspicion was that one of the tyres was running out of air鈥 just when I was halfway between towns. Slowly I rode on and when I finally reached Bols贸n, I decided to choose a fuel station with a tyre service.

A strange thing I noticed: Every fuels station since I got into Argentina, has long lines of people waiting to be served. Almost all of them have at least 2 pumps out of service.

While riding the bike in the sun, there’s usually enough wind to keep reasonably cool. It’s the waiting for fuel stations that really make you sweat聽 馃槮

The tyre service guy at the fuel station checked my tyres and the rear tyre was obviously low in air. He filled it up and I was confident again to keep going at normal speed.

About Bols贸n, I have to say that it really is a nice place with an ambiance of hippy, surf and alternative lifestyle. It looked very relaxed. I had some lunch and left for the last stretch to Esquel.

When cruising to the edge of town, I saw the 3rd SuperTener茅 like mine since I started this journey in South America. 馃檪
At around 16:30 I reached Esquel and found a camping. I put up my tent and then went for the national park. Supposedly they have the tallest pine trees of the country.

The road to the Park was a joy by itself with a few awesome lookouts. Arriving at the entrance of the national park, I inquired after the trees, and they informed me that they were another 35 km further in to the park on 30 km gravel roads. By then it was 19:15, so I decided to turn back and do some groceries.


Tomorrow will be a full riding day eastwards to the Atlantic coast.

21-01-2013 7 Lake District, Villa La Angostura

At around 09:30 I left together with Daniello, Camila and ‘Ale’ (Alejandro) to find the route along the 7 lakes of this area. It was again beautiful weather and the scenery was great.


After the first lake the road went in to the forrest and then turned into gravel for the next 30 km or so.
‘Eat my dust’ was very appropriate this time 馃槈

I felt more at ease this time and realised that the faster you go the easier it gets. You feel less of the bumps and the holes if you go faster. The only thing I did not master well enough, was rounding corners and bends in the road while keeping the speed鈥︹. Need to work on that 馃槈


Finally the road turned normal again and we passed one lake after the other. At 16:00 we decided to find a camping and the Garmin quickly found one at one of the lakes:聽Villa La Angostura. We had a late lunch, set up camp and went for a swim later in the evening when most of the day-folk had gone.


The camp site was very dusty (like the gravel road) and Daniello explained that this was all vulcano聽 ash that had covered the whole area about a year ago after an eruption of a Chilean volcano close to the border. What I had thought to be snow topped mountain tops were actually ash topped pikes.


I realised that we had only done approximately 170 km that day because of the gravel road and the frequently stopping for photos.

This was 1 day extra than I foresaw in my planning, but it was a great day in good company.
Tomorrow the amigo’s head for Bols贸n while I plan to travel another 160 km further to Esquel

20-01-2013 Junin de los Andes

After having had breakfast in Zapala, I put myself to work. Using Garmin Basecamp, I planned the routes that would take me to Buenos Aires and still see a little of Argentina with a few days margin.

The itinerary would take me a little further south still along the 7 Lake district to Esquel, from where I plan to head east to the Atlantic coast. From there I will head north and then inland again towards Cordoba then back to the coast, approaching Buenos Aires from the East.

It was almost noon when I left Zapala with still cool and cloudy weather. Not long after however it cleared up and I enjoyed a sunny rest of the day.
There was again very very strong winds riding over the highlands, but the scenery was beautiful, if not breathtaking at times.


A few hours later I reached my destination for the day: Junin de los Andes, a nice quiet town along a beautiful river. Coming up to the camping I had found in the Lonely Planet guide, the owner informed me that the bathrooms were stuffed and not expected to be fixed that day. Across the street was another camping that would serve just as well, though not so full of character. Just when I was heading there, 2 other motorbikes with 3 Argentineans arrived and they got the same story. With the 4 of us we made camp on the other side. Although only the girl spoke a little English, we seemed to have fun and my efforts to speak Spanish were greatly appreciated.


We went fishing in the unbelievably clear water of the river that ran along side the campgrounds and later on cooked quite a bit of lamb and beef on a BBQ fire.

And drank plenty of Matte (herbal tea).