We spend a couple of days in the Hotel, getting ourselves together and doing some research.
I speak to our Travel Insurance Company to get some help getting home - they don't want to know and make ridiculous requests for copies of our travel documents faxed across to them instead. I am totally disheartened with the lack of support and interest shown in helping us out at such a time by the Insurers - even after spending 800 quid on a top notch policy which was now virtually useless.
We set about trying to fathom out how the hell we are going to get 1) myself who can't ride or drive, 2) Darren who could ride but not a great idea and 3) a broken beamer who is ilegal to ride at the moment but could be fixed and ridden, 3000k up to Buenos Aires on a very limited budget at this point and in the shortest time possible. Then once at BA we need to organise getting beamer shipped home and ourselves on a flight.
I look into hiring cars, the idea is to hire a pick up truck like the one used to get us to the hospital and strap the bike in the back. This is dependant on Darren being ok to drive with his bad hands. We estimate getting to BA would take 4 days driving long hours.
Rio Gallegos is an average size town so we spend several days walking the streets and speaking to various hire shops who have nothing available. The Hotel suggests we try the small local airport, so we catch a taxi there the next day. That afternoon I phone the Hertz office to see what they can do.
They have a truck that they can hire us from tomorrow, I go through all the details on the phone, it can be dropped off ie. one way hire in BA but costs alot more. They quote me about 1000 pounds sterling, plus a huge deposit guarantee - it's money we haven't got but we have to find it.
We agree the price, get packed that evening, all ready to leave first thing in the morning. Our plan was to check out but leave the bike and all our belongings in the carpark, whilst we head over to the airport, pick up the truck and come back for the bike. Somehow we would try to lift the bike into the truck with a pole through the front forks- it wasn't going to be pretty but we'd manage somehow.
Arriving at the Hertz office in the airport next day and no-ones there. We wait around for a good hour until finally someone turns up. After trawling through paperwork we then have to give our credit card over so that they can take the 2000 pound deposit guarantee which you get back once dropped off in BA. The money is definately there in our account but would there stupid system agree- of course not that would be too easy.
The card gets refused 5 times in total and Darren and I are exasperated. It is so very hard to think clearly, especially when you are doing this all in Spanish, trying to translate what I think they are saying back to Darren, then asking another question- it is so confusing.
I have to take a moment outside the Airport to completely lose it and sob for half an hour. I can't describe to you how utterley helpless, totally frustrated and alone I felt us to be at that point. Why does this have to be so hard?
Darren persuades me to go back into the Office and speak to the Hertz guy again.
Our card gets refused a 6th time then the Hertz man has a suggestion...
He reckons that he knows a friend that for say 800 quid would drive us and the bike in a truck from here to BA..no deposit crap we just have to pay for the fuel.
I have to check several times that I have got my translation right but he says- no problem speak to my friend on the phone, calls him then hands me over to him. His friend speaks good English, confirms everything and agrees to meet us in 10mins at the Airport.
10mins later a brand new black BMW (the flashiest car I have seen since leaving the UK) pulls up and out jumps our man. We discuss the deal - it seems to good to be true - he says he has someone ready to drive us to BA now, he will help us load the bike, cash upfront obviously, we pay for the drivers expenses and fuel.
We decide to go for it and are promptly taken back to Rio Gallegos to the workshop/ business of our man, where a black truck is then driven over to the Hotel and the bike is loaded on along with all our kit.
We then head back to the workshop and the bike gets strapped down really hard on the back using the spring in the front forks to keep her from moving around. Darren double checks everything and is happy as you can be with other people manhandling your bike around. Our man turns out to be a total dick but he is helping us out so we can't complain.
After a fiasco trying to draw our cash out, we finally manage to pay the man and leave. It is about 4pm in the afternoon by this point. Our driver is a 65 year old man who speaks no english - well at least we don't have to worry about making small talk.
All I can say about the truck ride was it was the worst 3 days and 2 nights I ever spent in a truck.
This 65 year old man drove us for 28 hours straight - I kid not- at around 85-90mph the whole way.
It was truly terrifying and something I never want to do ever again in my life.
Night time was the worst- it was pitch black and the fear of hitting an animal was still pretty raw for us both. We took it in turns to catnap so that at least one of was watching the road and could try to do something. I remember sitting in the back with my hand in agony thinking, please god don't let me die in this truck.
Our only stops were for toilets and drinks and food. The driver repeatedly said he didn't need to sleep, he had done this route a thousand times being a long distance trucker.
As we neared BA the driving got worse and after some particularly hairy overtakes we told him to slow down, which he did.
The driver doesn't know BA at all, so we drive around various places looking for Hotels. We head for the Airport thinking there had to be somewhere nearby. Nothing.
Ending up in a very rough looking town we manage to flag down a taxi driver, Darren jumps in with him and we follow behind in the truck. After rejecting his first choice of Hotel, finally the beaten up taxi and myself roll up to what looks like a top quality B&B, Em is just behind in the truck and before too long she works her magic and secures a room for the night.
Meanwhile the driver, taxi driver and myself unload the bike from the back of the HiLux and dump all our kit on the driveway of the hotel. We then say are thanks to our driver and he gets on his way, not before wishing us well on our journey.
First thoughts are of a shower and a meal as we have not really eaten, showered or slept in the last 28 hours. I ride Beamer into the undercover parking area and we take our kit into the room. This place is great, clean and hot water plus everything works.
After getting showered (how good did that feel) we go through and get a meal in the lounge and I treat myself to a large beer, while Em treats herself to a large pudding before we get to bed for some much needed rest.
Next day after breakfast I set about emailing James Cargo to let them know we have got to BA so we can arrange the bike transport. We also email home to let everyone know we are safely in BA and are hoping to arrange flights within the next few days.
The reply from James Cargo later that day brought good and bad news, there contact out here had let them down and they advised that maybe we should consider airfrieghting the bike home, bugger, the good news was that they could recommend some contacts for us to try - but it meant we were starting from scratch.
Unfortunatly its now too late in the day to contact anyone so we will have to wait until after the weekend, we spend are time generally getting our act together so that there will be no delays on getting home once we can 'push the button.' We check flights and times, costs and transfer money from one overdraft to another to ensure we can pay for everything.
I also head over to the airport which is about 10 mins ride away to find a cashpoint, I get some funny looks from the other road users - I guess Beamer and I do look a bit odd, all busted up.
The bike rides fine thankfully and once at the airport I park up and find a hole in the wall. With the cash we need to pay the hotel, I then take a good look around the airport sussing out where everything is - hopefully it wont be too long before we fly out of here. Before leaving I pick up two cheap holdalls for us to use as hand luggage on the way home.
Once back at the hotel, I explain the aiport to Em, she is still in pain with her broken hand, I cant help thinking that the cast is too tight as her fingers look awful. We consider taking the cast off, but reason that with luck we will be flying home within a week so will cut it off before we fly.
With all the organising monday morning comes around quickly and we make first contact with Lufthansa Cargo. Things look promising as the organiser is really helpful and suggests we could possibly get the bike on a flight this Sunday (remember its monday today!). Whats better is the cost of the airfrieght is less that we were quoted to ship the bike home? Before too long email forms are completed and we are booked to take the bike to cargo on wednesday to complete the paperwork and clear customs - result.
While Em trys to relax by the pool as best she can with a cast on, I prep the bike ready for frieght basically repacking everthing and ensuring what needs to stay with us is in the holdalls and that everything else is squeezed into the panniers.
Waking up wednesday morning I know its going to be a long day, normally I rely on Em with the Spanish to help us through borders, customs etc.
Today I am on my own as Em can't ride, so I get our documents together and ride out to the airport. After parking the bike close to the entrance to cargo I walk to the office to get the nessessery papers required to enter the cargo area, after that I walk into the cargo area and into the offices of Lufthansa Cargo. The people here could not have been more helpful, despite my limited Spanish we get through the paperwork and I then take the bike to the weigh station before onto a second warehouse for customs.
I get a rollocking for taking a photo of the bike in customs (security) and for a minute thought I might lose the camara, thankfully all turned out ok.
The final part of the process again was easy thanks to very friendly officials, there was of course the usual paper shuffling and windows to queue at, but the whole process was very efficient. After a final pat on Beamers nose I walk off to get a taxi.
Getting back to the hotel, Em too had been busy with more research into flights home - with Beamer dropped off we could now book our flights. Ten minutes later we are confirmed on the afternoon flight leaving Thursday - another result.
We decide to cut off the cast at this point and manage with bandages until I can get my hand looked at in England. It's not pretty..
As we start to email family at home with our travel plans I turn on the tv to the music channel and up the volume. Its all quiet until the next song comes on and I struggle not to burst into tears - The Clash, London Calling "your not not wrong, I thought".
Posted by Darren Homer at September 14, 2008 04:48 PM GMT
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