December 04, 2006 GMT
Waterfalls, crooked cops, “short cuts” and muchos new amigos…

Its been just over a week since my last entry but it seems like ages ago I was enjoying the grandeaur of Iguazu Falls… they are are massive and spectacular. The day before I was planning to head to the falls I met Glenn, an Aussie on a 1 year trip from Brisbane. He already had a ticket booked for the next day which included a 4X4 trip through the jungle and a boat ride so we teamed up to check it out.

The boat ride was really cool and allowed us to get up close, and even under, some of the falls and we got completely soaked. Good thing though as it was stinking hot again. I took loads of pics but here are a couple of the best. For waterfall lovers this is your paradise…


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Having been stuck in Buenos Aires for the previous 3 weeks it was great to be somewhere else and I ended up staying 5 nights at a hostel in Iguazu. Its been a while since I hostelled and I’d forgotten how easily you meet people and make new friends. Luciano, Raquel, Glenn, Eddie, Rose, Estelle, Mauizio and especially Helle made the 5 days a load of fun and as a result of a late night dancing (well, moving around drunkedly) I didn’t get moving until very late on Wednesday with the hope of making it back to Buenos Aires on Friday.

Pic is of Luciano and Raquel (Glenn is out of shot) following an afternoon on a flying fox and Rapelling (down a 7 meter waterfall)…


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The weather was back to its best and as always it was great to be back on the road. I find that when I stop somewhere for a while and meet some great people I just want to stay there and the thought of heading off and leaving friends behind can be a bit of a downer. It normally only takes a few miles to get back into the swing and that was definitely the case this time.

Apostoles was the stop for the night and again my lack of Spanish caught me out, I thought the hotel owner wanted 50 pesos for a night but in fact it was only 15, very glad he was an honest geezer (15 pesos is about 2 pounds 50, great value in anyone’s book) though my boots smelled better than the room!

The next 2 days where a bit of a slog back down almost the same roads I’d traveled north on the previous week, only punctuated by being stopped by the police and the great hospitality of Africa Twin riding (and camp site owning) Gustavo.

The police were a bit more serious about it this time, and on both occasions I was taken to an office on the side of the road. Both times I protested my inocence and on one occasion had to produce my first aid kit to avoid a hefty fine (thanks Danyelle, your birthday present from years back saved me there) and then mucho “no entender” and showing of credit cards got me out of paying both times. Note to overlanders heading up or down RN14, please don’t give in to these guys, it just makes it harder for everyone else. Apparently this is the only place in Argentina this happens and I suspect they are mainly out to rip off truck drivers en route to Brazil. Was fun “negotiating” though…
Pete 4 – cops still a big NADA!!!

A big thanks to Gustavo from Colon for taking me out for a beer while was camping there. The 10k ride home on dirt roads was taken mas lento (bloody slowly) and I discovered that Hare’s can run at 27mph when one ran out in front of me and wouldn’t let me past, most impressive!

Safely back at Dakar Motos in Buenos Aires I headed back into town for a renunion with Jason and another big steak. Aww, it was good to see him again, the big lump.

I was keen on a day to chill out but Jase wanted to hit the road so Saturday 2nd we headed back out to DM. I had my bike cleaned, reapacked all my stuff and we headed off. Jason was as nervous as I had been the previous week but being the “old hand” I popped a little wheelie on our way off. I can safely say we’ll both be needing new head bearings by the end of this trip (if not before!)

We were lucky enough while at DM to meet another Gustavo, this guy built the Nortons for “The Motorcycle Diaries” and had been allowed to keep the one in the pic below by the films’ production company. It seems like everyone in Argentina has seen this film (though not everyone agrees with Che’s politics) and it was great to see the bike and meet the man that built it.


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Big thanks also to Javier for sorting out the GPS points for our exit from BA. I only made one wrong turn and that provided much mirth as we negotiated a muddy road to cut across back onto the main road. We both nearly lost it several times and needless to say my newly cleaned bike was again covered in mud… just how it should be!


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In Azul we stayed with Jorge at La Posta, once again met up with Luna and her Enfield, and enjoyed some great hospitality and yet another Asado (seriously I’ve never eaten so much meat in my life).


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We’re now in Necochea on the coast. We had 2 reasons for coming here; 1, the KTM importer for Argentina is based here, 2 we wanted to check out the beach. Well, the KTM guys have been closed all day and the water at the beach is freezing plus there is no one here as the holiday season doesn’t start for about a month and the place is a ghost town.

We’re leaving tomorrow…

One final pic of a mint Mark 3 Cortina for those old petrol heads amongst us, they certainly make their cars last out here!


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PS. To Alison and Katy that complained they weren’t mentioned in my last blog, there you go – you’re famous now! Thanks for the fun nights out.

Okay, just one more...


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Posted by Peter Baird at 07:44 PM GMT
December 13, 2006 GMT
Beaches, bikers... bliss

We were pretty happy to leave Necochea, its a typical coastal holiday place but with not many people there it lacked... well, much fun! We also discovered the KTM dealer had moved to Buenos Aires so there wasn't much point hanging out there any longer.

After an easy, but bloody hot, days ride west we found another coastal hang out, much smaller this time, Puehen Co. The holiday season for places like this only lasts about 2 months but as we were a bit early we had the only open campsite to ourselves. The owners reckoned they'd have over 1000 people on their site in peak time, sounds hectic and glad we missed that.

We were lucky that the site owners adopted us, the boys helping to get our bbq going one night (with only a lighter and pine cone, much to Jason's chagrin)...


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And inviting to us asado with them the next night, Ricardo Sr. providing instructions on how to do it properly...


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We also had some fun with the bikes on the beach...


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...and did some sun bathing (though I'm still too white to release those photos!)


We had some bloody strange weather too, stinking hot in the day with thunder, lightening and hale stones in the evening. The lack of women to chat up was driving Jason spare though so we set of to Viedma for the HU meet.

As usual with bikers everyone was really friendly but we crossed to the dark side and camped up next to The Beast (www.beastlyadventure.com), a 1976 former UN ambulance converted for overlanding and driven from the UK to Australia then shipped to Buenos Aires by Alexis and Greg. They had everything in the back of The Beast along some great stories and pics of their time in Russia and China so we did well to hang out next to them...


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The five nights we spent there passed in a blur of cheap red wine, enterntainment a la Greg, a visit to a seal colony...


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...and some great riding on dirt roads.


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Big thanks to Oscar, Floppy and Nancy for organising it all, great job guys ;-)

I had a bloody puncture as well which wasn't much fun but there were loads of people to help out and many thanks to Tom who loaned a spare tube I could borrow as, of course, all of my stuff was back at the camp site. I had been meaning to change my front tube to a heavy duty one that I brought from the UK but had been too lazy to do it, wish now that I had. I also wish I had checked the 6 identical pairs of brake pads I bought with me (the shop said they'd do front and rear) as I discovered that they are, in fact, only for the rear!!! I've had to glue part of one of the front pads onto its backing... Apparenly there are a few KTM places in Chilie so I'll be light on the front brake till then only 5000k's or so then!!!)

Its not a problem, I'll just nick Jason's ones while he's not looking, or if worst comes to worst it won't be too difficult to convert it to single disc.

Its been 6 weeks since weve left and I must admit its been quite strange adapting to life on the road. There were a couple of days where I was wondering what the hell I was up to, "come on Pete, get back to real life, get a haircut and real job and stop messing around...". It was great chatting to Lew at the HU meet, he'd had similar trepidations when he first started off but over 2 years later he's loving every minute. Just talking to him made me feel a load better, cheers mate...

Posted by Peter Baird at 04:15 PM GMT
December 31, 2006 GMT
Christmas in Ushaia

Its been over 2 weeks since my last update but so much has happened (all good!) it seems like about a year.

Firstly happy new year to everyone and thanks for reading my blog and all the messages of support.

I spoke last time about the trepidations of starting off a one year trip. All that is history now thanks to all the great people I've met along the way and especially following a fantastic week camping in the National Park at "el fin de mundo" 20k's out of Ushaia. More of that later...

From Viedma we continued the trek south staying in lovely Puerto Madryn for a couple of nights then onto Peninsula Valdez to camp and, specificaly, to go on a whale watching trip. My knowledge of whales and marine life in general is quite limited but it was quite an experience to see these behemoths of the ocean playing around and showing off for our benefit, at one point even bumping our boat from underneath safe in the knowledge that there is nothing we can do to harm them...



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The side winds on Route 3 heading south were bloody awful and passing trucks was particularly tough, you really have to be ready for the wind blast as you get to the front of the truck otherwise it feels like your front wheel is going to wash out. Often I just wanted to shelter beside the truck for a while to get some protection from the wind but on these single carriage way roads it wasn't advisable! The relief of turning off the main road and heading to Puerto Tombo with a tail wind to check out a penguin colony was palpable, and the penguins were cute too...



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Rather than go straight back onto Route 3 we decided to stick to the gravel roads running along the coast for a couple of days. I was a bit nervous on the gravel at first, especially with the side winds, but after a while and with the lower speed of riding on gravel my confidence rose and we both really enjoyed the riding. The scenery was great and the lack of traffic made you feel like you were in the middle of nowhere, fantastic, puncture wasn't so much fun though...



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It seemed like everywhere we stopped we were bumping into bikers heading for Ushaia which ensured more than a few drunken nights and late starts. We passed quickly through Comodoro Rivadavia and Rio Gallegos battling side winds the most of the time.



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To get to Tiera del Fuego you have to go through Chilie and take a short ferry ride, then go back into Argentina going through the obligatory customs and imigration check each time. Would be nice if they could sort out a quicker way to do this but there doesn't appear to be any love lost between the 2 countires and I guess territory is territory...



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The weather had started getting a load colder over the previous few days and the night spent sleeping beside my bike on the side of the road a few nights back seemed like a distant memory, luckily though we had the wind at our backs.


In Rio Grande we found a great hostel, Los Argentinos, and again it was a mini bike meet with Emma, Hamish, Asha and Mark who we'd met previously and some new faces, Gunter, Fausto and Peewee (I never got the bottom of that nick name!) enjoying Graciella's home made alcohol until the wee hours.


The next day we made it to Ushaia, woo hoo!!! A year previous I'd been telling all my mates I'd be in Ushaia this time next year but wasn't 100% sure it would happen, all the doubts you have when planning a trip like this, financial, mechanical, whatever, can conspire to make you doubt yourself so the joy at finally making it was fantastic.



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After all the flat roads of our trip so far we it was great to finally see some mountians. Awesome they are too, snow capped and rugged with lakes dotted here and there, bloody cold though!


We hostelled for a couple of nights before heading 20k's out of Ushaia to the National Park to camp up. At first I wasn't so keen as it was cold wet and windy but Jason convinced me and a great decision it was too. Other bikers started arriving soon after us and a few days later we celebrated Christmas with 20 or so others. We tried to make a spit to roast chickens on over the bbq but in the end our collective engineering skils failed and they went straight on to the grill. Brilliant meal it though and a massive thanks to Emma and Juile for getting it sorted.



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The view from the campsite was spectacular and we ended up staying 7 nights there...



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Our days consisted of gathering wood for the fire, cooking, drinking, and just relaxing, just what the doctor ordered. The last few nights were spent with the fantasic company of Emma, Hamish, Val and Adam. Cheers guys, sure were some fun nights...



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Posted by Peter Baird at 06:09 PM GMT
 


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