Category Archives: Argentina

02-02-2013 Last day in South America

The night again was too hot and there were quite a few annoying mosquitos who kept me awake. Over breakfast I decided that for my last night in Buenos Aires, I was going to get a hotel room with air-condition. I really need a good night sleep.
Outside, the wind came up in the morning and it was really a lot cooler than yesterday. I went on the internet and booked a hotel room elsewhere in the city. Around lunchtime the 2 French guys, Gregoire and Julien, woke up and Gregoire also planned to leave today. He left at 13:30. I waited until 15:00 before asking the reception to call me a cab. I am done walking for this trip 馃槈

When the taxi arrived I said goodbye to Maite and to Julien and the staff of the hostel and left.
The hotel room is spacious and indeed has air-conditioning so I think I will be fine for tonight. The man from the reception told me that there should be a bus heading for the airport, 2 blocks from here. Just to be safe I went out to look for that bus stop and indeed I found it.

Tomorrow I’ll leave for the airport around 08:30. Here ends my adventure in South America for 2013.

01-02-2013 Finalising shipping procedure

The past few days have been really hot and the nights as well. Good night sleeps are becoming rare. I’m up early most of the time and today was no exception. I double-checked the address of the shipping company in the city and went out. It took some 45 minutes walk to get there and I tried to walk in the shade as much as I could. When I arrived in the office, I was sweating from the long walk in the heat. Fortunately there was air conditioning and the staff was really friendly. They gave me a copy of the invoice with the exact amount to be deposited in their bank account.

The bank was only 2 doors down from their office and I only had to wait about 20 minutes before it was my turn. It took 3 minutes maximum to deposit the money and acquire the proof of payment. Then I went back to the office, but to a different floor. There I submitted the proof of payment and in return was given the Airway bill and original invoice. My bike will be on a plane tonight and arrive in Amsterdam on the same day that I will. What a relief that everything went so smoothly and without complications.

Next thing I planned was to go to an area with lots of small shops to look for a suitcase. After 20 minutes walking I arrived and eventually found a shop where I could haggle a little and bought the suitcase. Now I had to drag it all the way back to the hostel. When I finally arrived, my knee and back were sore and I needed a shower.

The rest of the afternoon was spent, with relaxing in the shade and sipping rum with lime and sugar. The 2 French guys were going out again at night, but I didn’t join them; my knee needs rest. At 23:00 it started to rain heavily and it cooled off somewhat. Hopefully tonight I will sleep better.

31-01-2013 Buenos Aires III: Boca

I had no plans for today, when I woke up. The weather in Buenos Aires is very hot and humid, like in Brazil as I remember from 2011. Taking it slow and easy is the rational thing to do 馃槈
Around 11:00, one of the other travellers, Maite, suggested to go and see Boca. This is a poor area with a very popular artistic section.
So the two of us took a bus and went to check it out. It was exactly like the Lonely Planet described it. Very colourful and vibrant. More than a few couples dressed in Tango dancing outfit, offered to partner up for money and have your photos taken with them. We liked the idea and went along with it. I must admit, I wasn’t really dressed for the occasion, but that didn’t really matter…. 聽 (or so I was told… haha)

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It was all very much a tourist trap, but nonetheless Boca’s charm and atmosphere makes you forget about that instantly.

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On the way back, we took the wrong bus and found ourselves in the centre. The metro was the fastest way from there, back to the hostel. Besides the fastest way, it was also much much cooler than on the streets. By the time we got back it was around diner time so聽I went with two others to another part of the city for some diner and beers. When we returned back to the hostel, my feet, back and knee were killing me and I was very tired from all the walking of today.

Tomorrow, there’s one last thing that I must do: pay for the air freight and receive the Airway Bill. I also plan to buy a suitcase, since all my stuff is in plastic bags and the one remaining saddle bag. Not really convenient to travel with on a plane. 馃槈

30-01-2013 Buenos Aires II

Getting up in time this morning was no problem I was somewhat excited. After breakfast, I re-checked everything I put in my top case and tank bag. At around 09:00 I manoeuvred the motorbike out of the hostel and started the last 30 km in South America on my faithful Super T茅n茅r茅. Getting close to the airport I almost messed up by taking the wrong exit. That was easily corrected and I arrived at the cargo area of the airport with plenty of time to spare.

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At 09:30, Ariel came to greet me and showed me where to go. While he went inside to start processing documents, all the airport personnel I saw friendly directed me to the cargo bay. Here the motorbike was weighed and then I was directed to a packing area.
Three men were waiting there with a long pallet. They directed me to ride the bike on the pallet and then let me do my thing.
I put my weight on the back and strapped the backside down to the wheel, then took out the front wheel, removed the front fairing and mirrors and loosened the handlebars, so I could move them down. Then the men from the cargo bay strapped down the whole bike to the pallet. All this to make the motorbike as low as possible, in order to save shipping costs.

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Regulations state, that the battery poles must be disconnected, tyres halfway deflated and as little fuel as possible left in the tank. I was already running the bike on reserve when I left the hostel this morning, so that was fine.

Next thing on the list, was waiting for customs inspection. At a certain moment, Ariel appeared, asking for all the copies I was told to make. Not long after that, He re-appeared with a lady from customs, who had a look at the bike, asked about the fairing, then checked the frame number. THAT WAS IT !!!!!!!
I could not believe it was this easy and everything dealt with in such short time. The cargo bay people wrapped the pallet with the XTZ in plastic and put stickers on it, confirming it had been inspected.

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Ariel showed me where to take the minibus to the city centre and said goodbye. Just to be safe, I called Sandra from Dakar motors, but she re-assured me that this was really everything that needed to be done.

When I got back to Buenos Aires downtown, I wandered around a bit and finally went back to the hostel. Sandra called to tell me the final costs, which were quite a bit lower than expected, due to the fact that I managed to make the bike really a lot lower than it is by default, standing on 2 wheels. The amount she mentioned I’ll have to deposit in the bank on friday, since tomorrow is a public holiday. After proof of payment, I will be handed a copy of the Bill of Loading (Airway bill).

In the hostel, one of the guest suggested he’d make asado and asked who would like to chip in. Almost everybody did, and so did I 馃檪

The day ended with a great meal, enough wine and beer to be merry and nice international company.

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Tomorrow is a public holiday so I will probably go and see something of the city.

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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http://dakarmotos.com/index1.htm
T
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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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……

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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.

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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.

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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.