Entering Argentina on 12 february 2004 i had to watch out for the oil spills from all of the argentine cars, they all seemed to be old clapped out Ford Falcons.
Off the bike for the inspection...thankfully not all the stuff had to come out of the boxes. The driver of one of the 'beaters' had to perform a "Fonzie" to get the boot (trunk) open; not quite as cool though--he needed to do a lot of thumping.
* okay for everyone saying what the heck is she talking about ~ it from the television show 'Happy Days' ...Fonzie, the cool guy on the bike, could always get things to work or open by just giving a wee hit with his fist...
ANYWAY....i was watching this guy thump the begeezas out of his car whilst i waiting for the Aduana man to come to do my paper work for the bike.
I had a chat with a policeman to clear up this rumour i'd been hearing about bikers getting fined for not having a fire-extinguisher... the first "first-hand" account said he'd foiled them by actually having one; the second said he'd paid a fine of $50!!; the 'second-first-hand-account' gave me a "second-hand account" of a group of forgien bikers riding north from Buenos Aires paying a total of $300 in 3 days for various things including the fire extinguisher.
The word i got from the cop was NO, bikes do not need to carry one - only cars do.
Diogo, from my hotel on the brasilian side of Iguaçu, recommended i stay in the Hostal Inn outside Puerto Iguazú. A 5 star place it is a former casino, with a big swimming pool in front, shaded by a lovely mixture of pine and palm trees!
While absorbed in finishing the book i'd found on the street in Rio (it was paper collection day and there it was; Steinbeck's East of Eden in english no less.) the frenchman from my dorm invited me to share his spag bog -spaghetti bolognese! -lets not get kinky. I offered to help in the kitchen but he said i should relax and keep reading. After a tastey meal and wine out on the pool terrace he said he will clean up and i go finish my book. How nice is that?! Merci, merci beaucoup!
My day at the Falls was cloudy which was good because there is much more walking to be done on this side. The best part for me was standing on the island mirador watching swallows dart in and out of the smaller waterfalls across the river.
The view from the walkway at the top of the main fall -The Devil's Throat- is amazing but there were all together too many people.
The police stopped me while leaving the town of Posadas.
Expecting the old fire-extinguisher story i was totally ill prepared for his request for insurance papers! Shit, shit shit, i knew my ICBC had long expired -no one was noticing- so i pulled out the "Worldwide Insurance" card Chris Ratay made for me. Unfortunately Chris you dated it and it too had expired... i hadn't looked at it since Costa Rica!
I stumbled over a lame story about the renewal is in the post. yeah right.
You had a good laugh Chris but i had to pay!
These guys don't fool around, none of this "give me 10, no 2 ok 5". No they would hold the bike until i paid $600 Usd!
There was confusion when i went into the office, the other guy said no, no in Pesos not Dollars...
Out came the Handbook of Penalties. The fine for no insurance is: The equivilent value of 300-1000 litres of petrol. (premium of course) so at 300 litres -they were being kind- that would make it 600 pesos = about $200 dollars - why didn't they just ask for the darn extinguisher!?
"Right i'm here forever where is my bed, where is the kitchen??" My anger was showing. We stood in silence for a long time.
I was tempted to say "take me to your superior" but thought better of it. The more people involved the more to pay... the higher you go the more expensive it might get? Didn't feel like experimenting. He finally made an offer.
"Ok, $150 (dollars)".....
"i don't even have 100 pesos right now" another story about just filling the tank and need an ATM machine...
"how much do you have?"...
I hoped 50 pesos would sound good to them, at the time it sounded cheap to me.
Crikey 50 pesos is about $16 dollars!! They were happy and agreed to radio ahead giving me safe passage as far as Corrientes.
They held up their end of the bargain, gates were raised with waves and smiles no need to even stop.
That night i doctored my ICBC papers... ssshhh.
Now the fiasco with the forks.... aye aye aye where to begin?
Leaving Macaé Brasil, i felt a change in the stearing - falling the opposite way into corners..? -. In Rio i asked the BM mechanic he didn't think any problem just tightened the neck.
Leaving Rio was little better but i had only a couple of days to left on the visa so i pressed on to Foz Iguaçu. By then i see there is also oil leaking from the forks. When the front tyre was changed in Foz the guy said he could change the seals the next day for $100. The 'next' day was the last on the visa so i figured best not - if there is a delay i'll be paying for each day over...and surely it can be sorted soon in Argentina.
In Corrientes i asked at a mechanics who was doing up racing bikes. He didn't want to get into it incase he couldn't find the right seals, so he just topped up the oil for me. By this time there wasn't much to been seen leaking...yikes not good. And now there was a terrible clunk sometimes...
In Cordoba there was the usual street lined with bike shops mostly with 125's and 250's. Finally saw one with Africa Twins. The seals got changed but when the caps went back on there was no resistance - they went on easy as a bottle cap. He presumed it was the springs... so we went wandering around looking for springs- nothing of course..
He can have some made...(i know, i know)
Next day he says they are 1/2 mm thicker. "what do you want to do?"
How the %*@¨ should i know! What is 0.50mm to me?? Nothing.
A couple of days later i get a reply from Glynn...
"it can't be the springs, don't let them change the springs - at least keep the old ones".
...you guessed it! Why did i want to carry the OLD springs?¿ jajaja
The original plan was to head straight south and visit Buenos Aires after Ushuaia.
I was in cow-town when the road turned to a rock and bulldust detour of 4km. How bad can 4000 little metres be? Barely went 500m and had to turn around, just couldn't bare to hear the horrendous clunking. Back to pavement and head to Buenos Aires.
Unfortunately at this time i didn't know about Dakar Motos but went to another recommended by a friend of a friend, a bit of tightening... the clunk went away.
Left the city with Sebastian, Lala, Hache and others of the "XX" bike club for a weekend at the beach then carried on with the 2nd attempt at Ushuaia.
The back end was feeling a bit donkey-ish, the clunk was coming back and i couldn't get those springs out of my mind.
Abort mission. Head to Azul.
Made a detour to Balcarce the birthplace of racing driver Juan Fangio. As i road along the main street, thinking how the bikers in Argentina don't wave or pip the horn with the enthusiasm as in Brasil, when a guy in a truck pipped his horn and we chatted at the lights... a brasilian!
Jorge or ''Pollo'' in Azul has more than enough enthusiasm for motorcycles and overlanders for all of Argentina!!
He has "La Posta del Viajero en Moto" a refugio for motorcyclists.
Asado after asado as overlanders came and went.
It was already the second week in march -getting late to go to the end of the world. So after one week in Azul i had hatched a plan... back to Buenas Aires.
By now i was put in contact with Sandra and Javier of Dakar Motos in BsAs and i asked if i could store the bike with them.
Javier was busy with overlanders (Simon Kennedy and Richard Beaumont) so i used the time to get my things cleaned and dried ready to put in store.
St. Patricks Day we had an impromptu Travelers Meeting.
After storing the bike and things i bought a ticket to London and moved into the city flat that Simon had rented; by now there were just 3 of us left but it was still only 11 pesos each! Had the weekend to take in a movie, visit Recoleta cemetery and enjoy the sunday park-life.
... to be continued.... soon.... i promise!
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