Touring Ted

2 wheels & no sense. My Motorcycle travel blog.

Archive for November, 2007

The day before yesterday, myself, Daniel and Sebastian decided to take a ride out into the country… Daniel seemed to know the way from his last visit here so he took the lead. We rode unpaved gravel tracks which were full of pot holes and bumps straight through the countryside. This was the first time I had tested myt bikes offroad capabilities and my god, it was a challenge. I had prepared the bike for the highway which meant road tyres and long gearing which is the worst thing for offroad…. Daniel and Sebastian had more powerful bikes with dirt biast tyres so it took some work to keep up. It was great fun though with us blasting up these tracks at 70mph with huuuuge dust clouds behind us. It was a fight to not take last place as visibilty would then be about 2 feet, meaning you had to ride blind and drop back to where the dust had settled….

Yesterday Damiel left to return to Dakar Motos. Just as he left, a Portugese guy called Antonia arrived. Hes been riding over Brazil. I think we may all go out into the centre tonight or maybe have another Asado :)

I think I will leave Azul in a few days and head for the “Sierra de la Ventana”. This is a national park and has the highest moutains in Los Pampas. Its about 150 miles from here and is kinda on the way to the Horizons Meeting at Viedma so it should break up the trip down there nicely…

Until then……………

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Duncan left last week to Mendoza so I decided to move back to Dakar Motos. The apartment is comfortable, full off mod cons and town, San Fernando is very pretty but its not really travelling and plus, there’s very little to do. When I arrived at Dakar, there was a German lady, Ushi, staying here whilst waiting for her bike and also a Canadian guy called Tom and a Californian girl called Chirsti. They were knocking about Buenos Aires whilst working on their bikes. Tom and Cristi suggested I ride down with them to a city called Azul to visit the “La Posta del Viajero en Moto”. Daniel, a German regular at Dakar also decided to follow us down too as “Sebastian of the shire” was also staying there. So onwards I went to explore some more of Argentina.

The ride to Azul is taken along Ruta 3. Well, that´s is after spending 30 minutes working out the Buenos Aires ring road :) !!!! Ruta 3 is a long and mostly straight highway which runs though “Los pampas”. These are the flat open praires and fields of mid Argentina. Pretty mind numbing really but it really gives you a perspective of just how large and open some parts of Argentina are. Miles of open fields occasionally broken up by a bunch of trees or a very small town. I had to share the road with some pretty large trucks whos overtaking procedures and alarming. All wits were required for that 200 mile, 5 hour ride.

We arrived at Azul just as the sun was going down. None of us knew where the hostel “la posta” was so it was left to the Spanish speaking Cristi to flirt with some policemen who gave us the directions. As we turned up at La Posta we were instantly greeted by Jorge and Sebastian and a fresh cup of coffee.  “La Posta del vijero en moto” is a great motorcycle hostel in Azul which is run FREE by Jorge. Jorge is a great guy who runs a motorcycle shop here attatched on the side of the living quarters. We have pretty much been sitting in the sun, drinking beer and eating asado with occasional walks and rides into the city centre for food and exporing. Its really relaxing and chilled out here. People come and go and the locals pop in to chat to Jorge and the travellers. People here are SOOO friendly and hospitible, just like everyone i´ve met in Argentina upto now.

Iv been here for 3 days now. Life is slow and relaxing and Im in no hurry to go anywhere or do anything. This is an attitude shared by Sebastian and Daniel as we sip wine during the eveings while listening to music on my laptop and engage in deep drunken conversation. Life is good !!!

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I had my first run in with the local plod today. I took a short cut down a one way street to get to the apartment JUST as a police car pulled into the road from the other side.. DOH !!!!

He asked for my licience so I gave him a nice fake one a had made up. He seemed satisfied with it and went on to explain that the street was one way. I played the dumb tourist and apologised and smiled alot and he went on his way… 

I’ve decided to move to Dakar Motos in a day or two. Its much closer to the city centre and there’s a constant trickle of people coming through. San Fernando is nice but a little sleepy and quiet during the evenings apart from a bingo hall…hmmmmm ! 


21.11.2007

Today I had my bike released from the port and had my first taste of riding the roads of Buenos Aires.  Me and Duncan had arranged to meat Sandra of Dakar motos at the port at 9am (Very early for me at the moment). She works as a kind of translator/broker/fixer/agent to help bikers get their babies out of the warehouse and through customs. Without her, it takes 1-2 days of paperwork ,stress and craziness to try and release a vehicle into Buenos Aires as a tourist. She is fantastic and we had our bikes out in 3 hours which is a personal record for her. All this for $100 each. A BARGAIN for the stress and time it saves. Any other broker would charge you 5x that and take twice as long.

We had to wait in a que behind 45 French motorists who were trying to release their cars for a Rally. We quickly bypassed them and before we knew it we were signing papers and well on the way. Next it was to customs to persuade the officers that we weren’t dodgy penguin smugglers and we were actually going to take out bikes out of the country again. Sandra smoothed the cogs once more and it then onto the shipping yard where the bikes were waiting for us, still in their crates. Its regulations that you have to get your bikes out of the yard on a truck and then unpack them somewhere else but once again, Sandra arranged it so we could unpack them and ride out.  The next hour was spent ripping the crates open with the help of a great guy who worked in the warehouse. He wouldnt even take a decent tip but we insisted that he at least take 20 pesos (about 3 quid)

Our tanks had to be drained of fuel before shipping, bar 1 litre, so it was straight out of the port and into the city centre of Buenos Aires to find fuel and our way back to our apartment. Luciky there was a petrol station only 2 minutes from the port and I filled up 23 litres of super for a ludicrous £6 (That’s actually expensive lol)

We were actually a bit lost then. In the middle of bustling Buenos Aires city centre with no maps and absolutely no idea how to find our way 25 miles out to the town where we are staying. I cheated and used my GPS although but in my defence, it would only tell me the general direction where to go and major roads etc. We knew the general direction we were going and I spotted the sign for “El liberator”. This is a main road near to where Dakar Motos is. I flew off the junction accross 7 lanes (yes the roads have THAT many lanes) and we “kind of” knew where we were. I decided to head for Dakar Motos then find out way the other 15 miles to the apartment afterwards :)

Riding in Buenos Aires is just crazy. There are rules and traffic lights etc, but they are more of a guide than a rule. People are swerving and diving everywhere and small bikes zipping about ridden by guys talking on their phones which their helmets hanging off their elbows. In its defence, the roads are well sign posted and everyone seems to have a general “understanding” with how to drive. What really throws you is that at least 80% seem to be one way which makes navigating a total pain in the ass. Its great fun though and I actually prefer it to the fascist rules and grid lock ques of the UK.

After some utter confusion with the one way system, we were picked up by Karl Hienz who just happened to be at Dakar and heard our bikes circling the area.

At Dakar we met an America girl and a Canadian guy who had just arrived and had coffee and chatted about our bikes, plans and adventures etc.  Just another day in South America on a bike.  Time for a steak in the town square now  !!!

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On thursday I headed into the city centre for the first time. I went in with Duncan (Geordie fella staying in the apartment with me). As we don’t get the bikes until next week, it was a 45 min train journey. Not a problem as the trains are clean and reliable and really interesting. People walk up and down the carriages selling stuff (like a UK pub) and you have musicians playing and selling their CD’s. Thats what I love about South America. People are allowed to be themselves and life is so relaxed. In the UK, you would probably be arrested for singing on a train… :(

The first thing which struck me is how European and modern the city is. There is so much going on its incredible. It reminds me of Barcelona but with no rules ! We walked around the squares, had coffee and then a dinner on the dock front. Bustling cities really arnt my thing and once I had taken in the atmosphere for the day we headed back to the flat and had dinner. A very touristy day really.

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Asado

The next day, Karl invited us to an Asado with Maria and Allastair along with some other bikers from Dakar Motos. A German guy, Sebastian was on form and we gave him the nickname “Sebastian of the shire” due to his lifestyle being very similar to that of a Hobbit (long story). Well, an asado is basically the best BBQ in the world. Huge pieces of meat, sausages and other great things are cooked over charcoal. This shouldnt ever be compared to the standard British BBQ of crap burgers and processed meat sausages with everyone getting pissed and hiding from the rain. Every morsal of meat was like a gorment snack. We all ate huge amounts of wonderful steaks, ribs, sausages peppers etc and then finished off with wine, coffee and icecream…  Truely one of the best parties of my life. Life here is brilliant and I can really see myself living here one day.

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15.11.2007

Well here I am in Buenos Aires. After all my worry about missing flights, connections and customs bureaucracy, it was probably probably the easiest connection and customs experience i’ve ever had.

My first experience with an Argentinian was old man at Paris. In true Latin American style, he was trying to push through the ques but couldn’t get past
my large rucksack so he called me “Tonto”. That’s “Stupid” in Spanish :)

I had arranged to meet a guy called Duncan in the airport. He had just sold his restaurant in Devon and plans a full round the world trip. We thought it would make sense to meet in Buenos Aires and find somewhere to stay, especially as our bikes were on the same boat.

Duncan was waiting for me in arrivals and we decided to get a taxi to a biker workshop called Dakar Motos, where we would meet Karl. Karl is setting us up with an appartment for a few days until we get our bikes sorted from the docks.

We are jumped on by a taxi driver within 20 seconds of meeting each other and agree a price to Dakar Motos. It’s quite far out in
the suburbs (45 mins from Airport and the taxi driver gets lost a few times but we get there in the end. We had agreed a price in the airport
for 80 pesos (about £11) and he tried to change the price to 140 on arrival. I argued the case in broken Spanish and have him a 100 note. Just as I was
about to get out, he shouted me and was holding a 10 peso note. The cheeky sod was trying to make out I gave him a 10 instead of a 100.
After a few raised voices I suggested he call the police and he decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

We were greeted by Javier at Dakar Motos. Him and his wife run the place together and I have to say its fantastic. It basically a workshop with a few bunk beds and a kitchen in the back. Its a real hub and haven for bike travellers who need repairs or just somewhere cheap and friendly to stay while passing through. There were a few German bikers staying there and in a couple of minutes we were all drinking coffee and discussing our travel plans.

Shortly after, Maria and Allastair had arrived. I had been chatting to these guys on Horizons Unlimited. They were on their way down from Colombia and needed some repairs and R&R. As it happened, they were also staying in Karls apartment. The rest of the day was spent at Dakar Motos making friends and drinking “Mate” with other bike travellers. What a brilliant day !!

Karl chauffeured us to the apartment where M&A already had beers chilling and meal ready to go.. Fantastic !!  :)

Today, we head back to Dakar Motos where we will try and arrange to have our bikes released from the port.

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12.11.2007

I fly out in 24 hours so thought I might as well post now rather than tomorrow when I’ll be too busy looking for my passport :)

I’m so excited that I can’t sit still. I know there’s loads of stuff I’ve probably forgotten and there’s bound to be things that I could/should be researching and preparing for, but I’m too excited and worked up to care now.

I’m REALLY not looking forward to the flights and general bureaucracy of airports, immigration and customs but it’s a necessary evil. My worry is that I will miss my connecting flight (45 min connection) or that the airline or Argentinian customs don’t let me through without a return flight. My hand luggage is bound to gather some interest too as its full of Asthma medication, GPS, electricals, zip ties, copies (illegal) of official documents and to top it off i’ll be wearing my motocross boots and an Aussie cowboy hat !

Once I get to Buenos Aires I’ll have to find a taxi to take me across town to a flat that I’ll hopefully be staying in, then try and get in contact with the shipping agents at the port and pray that the bike is in one piece.

Then ill be loose in South America on an incredibly heavy bike and nowhere to really go.

 I cant wait !!!!!!!!!!! :)