Finally I'm in South America! 3 years after deciding this continent would be the next I'd explore I'm tucking into my first Asado (bbq) out the back of DakarMoto's with Javier and Sandra, woo hoo!
A few months ago my mate, Jason Homewood, decided to come along and retrace some of the places he visited on a similar trip a few years back and to explre some more.
So here we are, arrived on November 2nd, we start Spanish lessons on Monday and with Sandra's help we should have our 2 KTM 950's out of the port on Tuesday. The plan is to head down to Viedma for the HU meet on Dec 8th, then on to Ushaia then North with no real plan for most of 2007. Should be fun, will keep you updated with our adventures as it goes along...
Well Iím into my second week of Spanish classes and as much as I wish it was getting easier, it isnít! Lots of study required and those that know me well know that study aint my strongest suit. Hopefully a private one on one session that Iíve booked for tomorrow will get me up to play with the rest of my classmates.
The 8.30 starts have not helped us with socialising in BA either. Its completely normal to eat at midnight or later or to not even go out until 2 or 3am. Weíve been slowly building up to staying out this late but have yet to master the art of the siesta.
Last Wednesday was a big day for us, we got the bikes out of the port and back to Dakar Motos. Thereís a load of paperwork to do and money to pay, luckily we had the help of super Sandra from Dakar Motos doing it for us and any problems that cropped up (for future reference, 2 bikes on 1 bill of lading is not recommended!) were swiftly dealt with. How youíd run the gauntlet of customs officials/import papers and warehouse workers by yourself I do not know.
I managed to flatten my battery trying to start the bike which caused a minor sense of humor failure but Iím slowly learning to chill out again after 8 years pent up in London! Javier charged it up for me and on Saturday it started up for the first time on Argentinian soil, woo hoo!!! Now we have the bikes we canít wait to get on the road, alas the Spanish is keeping us here for a few weeks more but what a great place to hang out.
The Argentines weíve met so far have been a great bunch, from the crew at Dakar Motos to shop keepers to commuters jammed into an early morning subte (BA equivalent of the tube, though a Jubilee Line tube in rush hour is a picnic by comparison) everyone appears friendly and happy to help out and have a laugh with you (or in my case, at you, when trying to use my disjointed Spanish).
There have been plenty of other overlanders coming through here too. They all seem to make it out to DM to check in and either stay for a few days, as we did, or get their bikes seen to by Javier. So far weíve met Germans, Cypriates, Austrailians and Luna, an Austrian on an Enfield whoís ridden from the States over the last 18 months or so. Having spent a fair while on Enfields in India my hat is well and truly off to her. All have a tale to tell and an experience to share which is going to be invaluable to us on our way north.
So for now its more Spanish lessons and hoping to get a handle on the art of staying out late, like really lateÖ
Take it easy,
Photos are of me at the warehouse picking up the bikes and then at Dakar Motos getting it back together again Ė I really need to take some more pics of this place!
What a difference a week can makeÖ
Jase and I were having fun in Buenos Aires but I really was struggling with the Spanish classes, that and the routine. Getting the tube to school at 7.30 AM, sitting in the class for 4 hours then home for a siesta, more study then dinner was, in a weird kinda way, reminding me of work back in London (though I shouldnít moan, it was bloody hot and the beers are cheap!)
So I thought stuff it, lets hit the road!
I finished up school on Tuesday, sorted out some bike insurance (5 quid a month!) then on Wednesday headed out to Dakar Motos to pick up my bike and... well, hit the road! I reckon Iíll learn loads of Spanish on the road and may do another week in Mendoza or somewhere else.
Luckily Dakar are really close to the the motorway heading north so I didnít have to navigate through BA. To be honest I was quite nervous about getting on the bike, donít know why, just a combination of riding on the right, not knowing the traffic and well... the unknown! By the time I was in second gear all these fears where gone and the feeling of this being the start of the trip took over, woo hoo, Iguazu Falls here I come!
It was stinking hot and once I was off the motorway onto single carriage way I just cruised along at 70mph, passing the odd truck and taking in the scenery. The road I was on, RN14, is notorious for cops looking for bribes but having read so much about it I was kind of looking forward to being stopped and checking out my technique for getting away with not paying (playing dumb appears to be the general rule, not hard with my Spanish!)
I saw the first group of cops on the left side of the road. Just at the last minute they saw me and I heard a whistle then saw an arm indicate that I should pull over . I pretended I hadnít seen them and carried on, checking behind every once in a while to check they werenít chasing. Phew, first cops successfully avoided! Wasnít so lucky the next time. Iíd just passed a truck on a really open left hand turn (okay, so I did go over the double yellows but it was hardly unsafe), and there they were... about half a mile down the road. I had to stop for these guys. They first tried to tell me Iíd passed on the dos lineas, I pretended not to understand and he drew a picture. I then drew another picture showing me passing on the dotted line. He then tried to tell me that I was doing 140kph, I protested that I was only doing 100 (which I was, surprisingly) and figured there was no way they could have a picture of me as the only ďspeed detectionĒ equipment they had was a pair of binoculars! By this point I knew they just wanted some money but I was still suprised when he asked me outright for cash. I pulled out a packet of cigarettes and indicated Iíd spent my last pesos on them and that I used credit cards. Eventually he got frustrated, shook my hand and wished me buen viajo! Pete 2 Ė cops 0.
I camped up after 300 kís at a site on the side of Rio Urugay (see pic). Was nice to get the camping gear out and check that I had everything I needed. A Stella (I kid you not) and a massive steak later and I was ready for some sleep. Day one successfully complete, yay!
Thursday was more of the same long straight roads, stinking hot weather and lots of trucks to pass. Was nice to get the odd flash of headlights and waves from oncoming truckers, makes you feel more at home on the road. I was doing long stints on the bike as there really wasnít a lot to stop for other than gas. Iíve spent a load of time at petrol stations in the past and doing this again was telling me the long distance travel vibe is really starting to sink back in.
I met another overlander, Tom from the States, on a long straight road and we stopped for a chat. He had started out from North America with a friend but the friend had had an accident and was quite badly smashed up and still in hospital in Brazil from what I could gather. I hope you receover soon mate. Tom himself had had an accident just a couple of days prior, a fox ran out in front of him on a dirt road. Lucily he was okay but his KLR was a bit smashed up and he no longer has a speedo. Valuable lessons about taking it easy and watching the traffic for me, but you never know whatís around the corner do ya.
I stopped at a tiny town, Yapeyu, at 3 that afternoon as I really didnít want to slog it out too much. Was met with some fab hospitality at the only gas station in town. When I indicated to the owner I was hungry she got out some salad, rice and bread for me and I chatted away with her (Roxanne) and her husband, Victor, for a couple of hours. They didnít even mind that my Spanish was so shite, they just spoke a little slower. Lovely hospitality to a complete stranger (me!), its been a while...
The camping there didnít look too organised so stayed in a bungalow for the night but following the afternoon food (and beer, of course) I had a little siesta (well, 3 hours!) I was so knackered I didnít even notice the bloody noisy overhead ceiling.
Was strange to wake up on Friday and see grey skies after the clear blue of the previous days. Oh well I thought, at least itíll be a little cooler. 40 miles later I was searching for shelter (see pic) as the couds that Iíd hoped would remain on my left swept over so fast the ruts in the soft tarmac formed by trucks were instantly flooded. With my dark visor on I couldnít see a thing so stopped and changed it, put my jacketís ďwaterproofĒ lining in and found my over trousers (which I hadnít seen for a few days and was starting to wonder if Iíd forgot). I couldnít find my thick gloves though so for the next 400kís my hands where constantly wet, though so was pretty much every other part of my body too! The rain was incesant and the sky was only grey. I did get 50kís or so of dry road before hitting what I can only describe as a tropical downpour for the last 50kís into Iguazu. Was a right pain in the ass in one way, but a load of fun in another and is to be expected. Anyway, all is forgotten after a shower and a beer ;-)
So now Iím in Iguazu, home of the largest waterfalls in the world. Iím going to check them out tomorrow (Sunday) and hang about for a couple of days before heading back to Buenos Aires for next Saturday, meet up with Jason and head south.
Man itís great to be back on the road...
1) Looking out of the classroom window in Buenos Aires
2) Camping on the first night
3) One of the many long straight roads
4) Sheltering in a bus stop
5) A break between storms
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