To Buenos Aires
Next day we head back to Rio Grande and the same route as yesterday, now the rain has cleared the Mountains can be seen and they are stunning.
We head back to the same Posada in as they were really friendly, its only now that we have wifi and get busy letting everyone back home know that we have made it to Ushuaia and are now on our way home.
Next day we are up early ready for the busy day back to the mainland and crossing the two borders with the ferry ride in between.
We set out and once on the gravel get to our first border post. The staff are really fun today and joking around with us. Once outside we meet 3 Chilean bikers on their way in and they insist on a picture.
Then we head back past the flamingos and stop at the Argentinian office. While we are in here I see the Exchange office staff I had chatted to on the way in and they call me Senora Emma- I can't believe they had remembered my name!
We hit the gravel and make really good time on it today.
Next challenge is the ferry and we pull up first in the queue waiting for the boat.
Whilst we are waiting two friendly brothers start chatting to us about the bike and trip. Fernando and Paulo are travelling on a holiday driving from their home in Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and back again in a week. Paulo is a photographer and asks if he can take our picture too.
The boat arrives and it starts to rain, the boys (chicos) kindly lend me their umbrella.
Once on the boat Darren stays with the bike while I sit inside in the warm chatting to the boys. I go to pay but the crew aren't having any of it and let us on for free.
On dry land again we head off and hit the second border post. This is a breeze again with friendly staff and no one around. Darren and I say to ourselves this is all too easy.
We were having a fantastic day, meeting lovely people, having fun, easy borders, free ferry etc.
I see a sign for a lake and deciding that we have time for a little detour we take a look.
It is very pretty and desserted.
Heading out from the Lake and back on the main road towards Rio Gallegos the road is pretty straight and boring. There are deep ditches on either side of the road too.
10 mins later we are heading along at our usual 55-60mph when I feel Darren back off the throttle and start breaking hard, I look over his shoulder and see a llama coming up fast, it has frozen with fear in the middle of our path, I just have time to think 'we are going to hit it' before the impact.
I don't remember much except being thrown off to the right as the bike pitches and we hit the ground. I land face down in the gravel with my arms outstretched above my head and skid backwards for a good 20 metres. I remember seeing the gravel up close as I skid through it.
I come to a stop and manage to get up on my knees, Darren runs over to me shouting are you alright, are you alright? It takes me a moment to answer, Darren slaps me on the shoulder and tells me 'well done for staying with the bike'.
He runs back to the bike and I look round trying to take it all in. The llama is still in the middle of the road and I think it is dead, then suddenly it shakes into life and jumps to it's feet before running at me for a second then back down the road. A car passes us at this point, not even slowing down through the carnage left on the road.
Both my hands are really hurting and I remember thinking 'my left hand is broken'.
Well we did say the day was going too easy, as we left the lake I was feeling good about the day, its then that I spot the Llama coming out of the ditch to our left.
I get off the throttle and start to break just in case, sure enough the animal bolts across the road, the ABS is now working hard as I try to scrub off speed.
Just as it gets to the middle of the road the animal freezes, shit! Theres no time to get off the brakes and try and swerve, I just pray it moves.
The impact is hard, I guess we are still doing around 50mph as the front beak of the bike forces itself under the belly of the Llama. The front subframe breaks as the animal is forced up smashing through the oil cooler, light, clocks, GPS, mirrors and screen. The animal now makes impact with the bars and my hands as my head impacts its belly, Beamer now has too much weight on the front wheel and it tucks to the left and we go down.
I assume this is when Em comes off, I stay with the bike as we slide on our side through the gravel on the side of the road. Eventually I let go and the bike spins away from me, desperate to get to Em, I put my foot down thinking I have stopped, I hadn’t, I flip up in the air and eventually come to a stop.
I look back up the road and see Em on her knees, shit shit shit, running up to her I start to shout, I need to hear her say she is ok, please let her be ok.
Em manages to say she is ok, clearly in shock but ok, “your face is bleeding” she says ‘don’t worry its fine I answer’, just head butted the stupid thing. Once I hear Em say she is not badly hurt my thoughts turn to the road, our panniers and bits of bike are everywhere and cars are just whizzing by.
I get to my feet and start helping Darren with the clean up. There is alot of stones and bike strewn in the road so we pick up bits. Several cars pass us as this is happening and I gesture to them to slow down, to which they ignore, thowing stones up at us as they pass.
Once we get our kit to the side of the road, I realize its only a matter of time before the adrenaline wears off for both of us and we need to get the bike on its wheels before the pain kicks in.
Em mentions that her hand feels broken, I know her pain threshold is seriously high so admit to myself that she is probably right. Its only now that I do an assessment of myself, my hands are not right and I am finding it hard to breath as my ribs on the right side are painful.
Its amazing how the brain works in these situations, instinct kicks in and we know that first we have to see if Beemer is ridable, if so then we need to ride to a hospital and get checked out. I look down the road at the bike, its lying on its right side and my first thoughts are that its history.
Em and I haul the bike up onto its wheels and manage to put it on its stand, this takes a great deal of effort as we are both in pain. The ignition is still on but with no clocks left I cant tell if we have electrics, I go to thumb the starter but its not there. Looking down between the forks I find it and press the button – nothing, Darren you idiot think – its still in gear, reaching down I select neutral and try the button again…Beamer fires up.
Unbloodybelievable, even after that she fails to let us down, a quick assessment tells me that the forks look straight and the brake and clutch appear to work – its ridable. I get the gaffa tape out of the back box and attempt to make the mess at the front safe, its then that a Pick Up truck passes us then stops before reversing back to us.
The driver is a really nice man and insists on helping us. He suggests that we put the bike in the back of his truck and he drives us to the nearest town of Rio Gallegos. He drives the truck down into the ditch then reverses back so that his tailgate is nearly level with the slope. There is about a foot in height to lift the bike onto the back and all three of us struggle to lift it in. We are then joined by a Bolivian guy who happens to be cycling by (we had passed him about an hour ago and waved) and he joins in the clean up, helping to lift the panniers into the truck.
Just then the boys (chicos) we had met on the ferry come past and stop, they ask the driver where he is taking us, he says he is taking us to the hospital first then a hotel. They say they will meet us at the hospital and head off.
The driver (I don't even know his name) gets us into the truck and gives the Bolivian guy a lift too. He puts his pushbike in the back and then climbs in the back to hold our motorbike up steady as we set off.
It takes about half an hour to get to the hospital, the driver speaks to the staff and gets us sorted. They ask only for our passport numbers and details. We meet up with the boys there too and they decide to go off and organise a hotel for us while we are getting looked at.
We get looked at by a nurse and she takes one look at my hand and says that it's definately broken, then they take us through to get xrayed on the places that hurt.
My knee and left hand and Darren's ribs and hand are swollen.
As Em is getting xrayed I take a good look at my left hand, its very swollon and I don’t like the look of my thumb. How the hell am I going to ride the bike if I get put in a cast? Maybe not one of my better ideas, but as I go into xray the lady asks me to put my hand on the slab, I put forward my better right hand just in case.
The diagnosis is everything is fine except Ems hand which is indeed broken and needs to go in plaster. The driver returns at this point to tell us that the boys have found us a hotel and that he has taken the bike there for us and parked it safely round the back and that the boys will be coming to get us in half an hour.
We have no words to express our gratitude to this man for his amazingly generous assistance, I give him a big kiss and Darren gives him a hearty handshake.
What do you say to a man that you owe so much to? I didn’t know either, after Em gives him a hug I shake his hand and don’t let go until are eyes make contact and its then I just say thank you.
That’s one of the biggest things I will take from this trip, my faith in human nature is restored and some. We have been helped by so many people that I resolve that from now on my outlook on helping a stranger will change.
Next it's time for me to get plastered and after an excrutiatingly painful five minutes of trying to pull my wedding rings off my swollen finger with soap and Darren holding my arm while the nurse pulls my fingers it finally comes off.
They tell me that I will need to get to a hospital in Buenos Aires before I fly home to get the plaster cut off then send us on our way.
Once outside we wait 15 mins for the boys to arrive. They have lots of stuff crammed in the car and managed to make a small space for me on the back seat but Darren had to squeeze in the front with them.
We get to the Hotel and get checked in, the hostel is very welcoming and the guys show us where the bike is situated – right by the back door. They had taken our panniers up to the room too. These had been open since the hospital as we hadn't thought to lock them shut at the time. The kit in our panniers was probably worth more than they earn in a year alone, a refreshing change from England where if it's not tied down...
On getting to the room the guys ask if they can take us to dinner that evening, surely we should be taking them out? But they insist and make a grand gesture of inviting us, so after a very painful shower each we head off for a really enjoyable evening in their company, before saying our goodbyes as they are leaving early in the morning.
Por neuestros amistades los chicos - Paulo y Fernando - Muchas gracias por sus amabilidad.
Neither of us get much sleep due to the aches and pains – any of you that have ever fallen from a motorbike will understand – everything was so stiff next morning, we looked like a couple of oap’s walking around.
The hostel was great, but the reality is we need a hotel with wifi so we can get organized so we take a walk around the block and find a very good hotel with all the facilities we need. After checking Em into the room I tell her to try and get some sleep as she looks shattered. I then walk back to the hostel and check us out, with everything back on the bike I realize its going to hurt trying to ride.
I swing a leg over but cant seem to pick the bike off the side stand, I put my lid on and try again while gritting my teeth, I cant descibe the pain.
Sitting on the bike I start Beemer and it then takes me 5mins to get my left hand to work pulling in the clutch, I could really do with the adrelaline kicking in again.
Its not the smoothest of starts as I pull away from the hostel for the 5min ride to the hotel, I am getting some strange looks from people but I guess both the bike and I look a mess. I get parked in the hotels secure car park and its all I can do to get off the bike.
Posted by Darren Homer at September 14, 2008 04:46 PM GMT
While struggling with the luggage a porter appears and he speaks perfect English, we have a good chat about music and his home town and also discuss the trip. I then explain that my hands are damaged and he insists that I just go to my room and he will bring everything up – top lad I'm very grateful.