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Old 03-25-2013, 08:25 AM   #1516
Mehaniotis
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Pissed

Is this the caretaker that invited you in to his house to break bread with? You stiffed him?! I don't have good feelings towards you Little bro.
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:12 AM   #1517
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Originally Posted by Ulyses View Post
I was going to, but I only had like 50 Pesos left in "efectivo" and didn't really have anyway of getting more until I hit BA. And it's a good thing I held onto those pesos because by the time I made it in, I think I had about 2 pesos to my name. I bought him some beer the night before, so I hope that sufficed.
Entiendo. Considering the circumstances, that should be fine. Want to stay in the black on karma points...
Glad you got to Buenos Aires in good shape. Should be a fun town.
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:00 AM   #1518
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love this trip!
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Old 03-25-2013, 03:52 PM   #1519
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Originally Posted by Mehaniotis View Post
Is this the caretaker that invited you in to his house to break bread with? You stiffed him?! I don't have good feelings towards you Little bro.
Whoa! Allow me to elucidate:

When I arrived at the campground, the caretaker, who was about 20 years old, came out and told me that about the place. It was a municipal campground for police officers on vacation. Civilians could camp there for a little bit extra. I said great, I'll take a spot. I was the only one there. As I was unpacking I asked him if there was a Mercado nearby that took credit cards as I needed some food and was a little low on cash. He told me that he had some leftover asado from the night before that I could have. I said great! Not wanting to take the man's food without giving him something in return, I asked him if he drank. He said he did, so I told him that I would take the bike over to the market and get us some booze while he re-heated the chow.

I went to the Market, got us beer, and came back to the campground. This kid was just staying in one of the cabins that they let the police officers use. I asked him where he lived and he told me that he was from the town down the road. He was just working at the campground for a few more days until they closed up for the season.

He took the meat out of the oven, we ate, drank some beer, smoked a few cigarettes, and watched Argentinian TV. I had one sausage and a piece of fat that had a little beef on it. After a while I thanked him for the chow, cleaned up my plate, then said adios and went back to my tent to get some sleep.

I woke up a little late the next day and took my time packing up. I kept an eye out for the guy so I could pay him, but I never saw him. About an hour and a half later, after I was all packed up and ready to leave, I walked over to the cabin and knocked on the door. No answer. I went to the office. And tried there. Same thing. I went back to the Cabin, knocked again and called out. Still nothing. I walked around the entire campground, went into all of the buildings and couldn't find the guy. I went back to the bike, waited for a little bit, then fired it up, made a couple of laps around the campground to see if he would come out. Still nothing. I pulled the bike up in front of the cabin, reved the engine, honked the horn, and yelled to see if he was just sleeping or something. Still nothing.

So now I have a dilemma. There's no one here, but I don't want to ditch out without paying. I can't just leave my credit card in the door frame of some cabin and I don't even know if I have enough cash to make it to BA since my identity was stolen by somebody in Kansas City the night before so I can't use my debit card unless I can call the bank which can only be done if I can find an ATM that also happens to be right next to a wifi connection so I can call them via skype because my cell phone isn't working for some reason and it's ridiculously expensive to make international calls anyways......

In any event, after thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided that we were probably even on the food as the beer that I had bought undoubtedly cost more than the meat that I ate. And though I love Argentinos, sometimes the culture of taking three hour lunch break/siestas isn't exactly the most conducive business practice for making money. I've had situations in Argentina where I'm literally thinking: "I want to give you lots of money right now for a service or some goods but you seem to care more about drinking your matte and taking your sweet time opening your business. And when I come back you tell me that you aren't open for business despite the open door, playing music, and "abierto" sign in the window but that you will open in an hour. And then I show up in an hour and you tell me that you're still not open and that I should come back in another hour. Where's the disconnect here?" This kind of situation just seems to pop up all of the time. Yes, I understand that there is big cultural difference. No, I don't have any problem with that and it has really only frustrated me once when I was in Rio Gallegos when I spent three days trying to fix something that should have only taken a day. But look Argentina, if you don't want my business, fine, I'm out.

In any event, after doing my best to find someone to pay, not having any cash to leave, feeling that we were square for the food, and not wanting to wait all day for someone to show up, I decided to leave. It's not like I was trying to dirt bag my way out without paying. Everyday for the past week I've stayed in campgrounds where I could have easily left without paying but I always took the time to hunt someone down and offer them money.

So that's the call I made and my reasoning behind it. I wasn't trying to stiff this guy. Maybe I should have waited a bit longer. Quien sabe? Do I feel bad about not giving the guy money? Sure. But at the time, I didn't really see any other options.
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Old 03-25-2013, 04:17 PM   #1520
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A lo pasado, pisado.
Can't imagine doing anything differently there myself.
How's Buenos Aires?
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:51 PM   #1521
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Excellent Baja engineering.

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Old 03-25-2013, 09:02 PM   #1522
Ulyses OP
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Dolar Blue and Dakar Motos

Day 160 (March 25, 2013)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Day's Ride: 27 Miles

I had a couple of things to take care of this morning. First things first: dolar blue. "Dolar blue" is what the Argentinians call the black market for American Dollars. Currently, the official exchange rate is around 5.10 Pesos per dollar. The Dolar Blue rate is somewhere around 8 to 8.5 Pesos for the dollar. So, if you have some hundred dollar bills, you stand to make a little money. Of course, because the Argentinian Peso is so inflationary, no one wants to buy pesos. So, once you've made the change, you better hope you calculated correctly cause' you aren't going to be changing those Pesos back to greenbacks.

I talked to some people at the hostel and and asked them where I could find someone to change my money. They told me to go down to Florida street and just walk around. There would be tons of people just standing on the street calling out, "Cambio, cambio, cambio!".

So I went to Florida street....



Sure enough, as soon as I turned on to the street, I ran into about 10 different people offering to buy dollars from me. I hunted around for a bit, trying to get the best rate. People where trying to offer me 8. I just laughed and moved to the next one. I had seen on the news a few days ago that the Dolar Blue was at 8.45. I mentioned this too a few cambiodores and they told me that I could get that rate if I wanted to change over a $1,000. So I lowered my expectations a little and found a few who said that they would give 8.20. I played them off of each other for a minute and finally one of them buckled and said he would do 8.25. Sold!

He told me to follow him and we walked into a nearby hotel and took the elevator to the first floor. This seemed a little shady, so I slipped my knife out of my pocket and palmed it up into my sleeve. We stepped out, walked down the hall a little ways and stopped in front of this hotel room door. There's this big goomba looking bouncer type standing there in a rumbled suit with a little radio earpiece tucked into his ear. Whoa, now I'm feeling like I'm about to walk into this hotel room and get shaken down.

My cambio guy opens the door and we walk into a hotel room that has been converted into a pretty legit looking money exchange place, complete with bullet-proof glass, wall safes, ticker screens, and shady looking tellers. Actually, the shady tellers didn't look too legit....I still had the distinct feeling that I was about to be robbed.

In any event, I stepped up to the glass and told my teller what I had and what I wanted. He stepped back, talked to his cohorts, came back to the glass and told me that he could only give me 8.20. I told him that that was BS, the guy who had just walked me in here had told 8.25. He said sorry, 8.20 was all he could give. I just smiled, said adios, and started to leave. He then told me okay, he would give me the extra .05.

So, I walked out of there with a fistful of pesos, said chao to the goombah, and hit the street. I would have taken a picture, but I get the distinct feeling that that would have been frowned upon.

I was walking back along Florida street when who should I see but the overlander couple whom I had met with Mike in La Paz and then seen again a few weeks ago in El Calafate.



It's so odd how you can just run into people randomly across an entire continent. We talked for a bit, I told them about my "Dolar Blue" experience, we exchanged emails, and then parted ways.

I walked back to the hostel, ate a little lunch then started getting ready to over to Dakar Motos to talk to them about shipping back to the States and possibly find a used tire and a welder.



After a little bit of confusion navigating through Buenos Aires, I finally found the shop. Sandra and Javier, the owners, were extremely helpful and explained the whole air shipping process to me and detailed the costs. I decided to pull the trigger and use them for shipping as they seemed to have the cheapest rates and most clear cut outline of what I needed to do. I still can't get over the fact that airfreight from Buenos Aires to Portland, OR is cheaper than ocean freight from Vallaparaiso to Portland, OR.

I then asked Javier if he had any used tires that he wanted to sell. He dug through his stock and pulled out a half used Metzler for me. It was a little smaller than the one that I currently had on but I figured it would work just fine. Plus, he sold it to me for 200 Pesos so I couldn't really argue about the price. Plus, he let me use his shop to do the tire change.



While I was working on the tire, I asked him if he knew of any welders. I showed him where my luggage rack was cracking and he said that he could take care of that himself. Before I could even get the tire back on he had re-welded my rack. What an awesome guy!



After I finished putting the tire back on, we sat around and talked for a while. Sandra even gave me some coffee. Javier and Sandra are awesome! I finally said my goodbyes and headed back to the Hostel.

So now I've got a shipping date (April 4) and a loose idea of what I'm going to do. I plan on staying one more day in BA, then heading up to Uruguay for a week or so to hang out on the beach, work on my tan, and take a vacation from my vacation. Then, I'm going to head back to BA on the 3rd, take the bike to the airport on the 4th, and hopefully fly back to the states by 8th or the 9th. It's so crazy actually having a fairly solid timeline now! I don't know if I like this.
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:24 PM   #1523
Super Dave Hawaii
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Onward and Upward!

Hey Bryce, Glad to see all is well and you're back in the big world. Great ride report from down south. Now that you've seen the pengiuns for us. what's next? You have accomplished something great and you are to be commended. Thanks for all your photos and excellent writing of your travels. Enjoy your vacation from your vacation.
When I was your age I worked overseas and traveled to places most only dream of. Not a day goes by that I don't think of the good and not so good times. All I can say is it's all good!
Onward and upward!
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Old 03-26-2013, 05:10 AM   #1524
ONandOFF
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. . . . . .

Increible! Dios esta contigo.
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Let's ride!!! - No offense, but there've been a lot of people over time who were just as sure, yet got it wrong. - Una necedad, aunque la repitan millones de bocas, no deja de ser una necedad. - "you know that I could have me a million more friends and all I'd have to lose is my point of view" (Prine)
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Old 03-26-2013, 06:02 AM   #1525
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I can't stop thinking about how scary that must have been, being taken up to that hotel room for cambio. A lot of people have been ripped off when the perpetrator can get out sight and remain anonymous. You have nerves of steel. But these guys obviously have a thriving business going on and that would have been bad for business. They would have had to go to the trouble of dragging you off somewhere else and killing you, making it look like a robbery, if they wanted to keep changing. Plus, I'm wondering if it's illegal for them to offer unlicensed money-changing services, which if so, they wouldn't want to attract heat. But then, what got me thinking even more, from a traveler's perspective, I wonder if it's illegal for us as visitors to do business with these underground money changers. You don't suppose we could get in any kind of trouble, or get tossed out of the country, if we were to get caught in the act by the authorities, do you?

These last several days should be great. I think you'll really enjoy Punta del Este. Tiene que haber muchas chicas en bikinis! You'll probably have to change money again there. Montevideo was very nice, clean and safe when I was there just a few years before you were born. I still remember a big traffic circle with the big buildings of the city lining the horizon, the Fortaleza along the Rio de la Plata - the original stronghold of the settlement - with a row of homeless slums nearby that I dared to walk through as a twenty-couple year old, taking busses all around the city, and sightseeing late at night with no worries about being unsafe. The people were amazingly warm and welcoming and made for one of the most impressionable memories of my life. The very old cars in excellent condition with a few new but different ones mixed in. Lots of asado and mate, everyone wanted me to come to their home to eat, I still have a termo and mate setup around somewhere that I brought back. They had excellent cigarettes, too, and nobody lit one up without offering one to everybody around. That's how I found out my Marlboros tasted like crap in comparison. I think they might have been called Nevadas. So when someone offered to exchange mine for theirs, I jumped at the chance. I brought a couple of cartons back home, and once those ran out I bought a carton here, then I quit smoking cigarettes and gave the rest away.
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Let's ride!!! - No offense, but there've been a lot of people over time who were just as sure, yet got it wrong. - Una necedad, aunque la repitan millones de bocas, no deja de ser una necedad. - "you know that I could have me a million more friends and all I'd have to lose is my point of view" (Prine)
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Old 03-26-2013, 10:17 AM   #1526
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Quote:
I'm wondering if it's illegal for them to offer unlicensed money-changing services,
Yup

Quote:
I wonder if it's illegal for us as visitors to do business with these underground money changers
So far, so good.
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Old 03-26-2013, 03:50 PM   #1527
Aienan
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Shipping Costs

I'm planning on a similar shipping arrangement next February, were you looking at getting a whole container for shipping? What kind of costing are we looking at?

Feel free to PM me with specific info if you want.
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Old 03-26-2013, 04:14 PM   #1528
Ulyses OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aienan View Post
I'm planning on a similar shipping arrangement next February, were you looking at getting a whole container for shipping? What kind of costing are we looking at?

Feel free to PM me with specific info if you want.
Getting a whole container isn't worth it unless you have a bunch of people that want to split it. That can be a very hard thing to organize on the return but maybe easier if you are shipping down to start your trip. If you can find some people who are shipping vehicles down, that's even better.

I've been doing tons of work contacting various shipping companies in the states, Buenos Aires, and Santiago. Ironically enough, the best deal I've found so far has been air freight out of Buenos Aires. Right now I've been quoted at around $1,800 but that may go down depending on how small I can make my bike when it comes time to crate. Also, because it's Argentina, you can use the black market for dollars to exchange everything over to pesos and then pay at the official exchange rate and save about 30%. Of course, if you are starting off outside of Argentina, that doesn't apply to you. When I find out the actual final price on the 5th of April, I will let you know.
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Old 03-26-2013, 04:35 PM   #1529
Ulyses OP
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Buenos Aires

Day 161 (March 26, 2013)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Day's Ride: 0 Miles

Last night after posting, I went out with a couple of people that I knew from Santiago and saw a concert.



It was good to get out in the city and do something different for a change. Something like going to a massive percussion concert in the middle of BA and dancing like a fool. I had a good time!

Today I took sometime to buy a plane ticket home and do some other administrative stuff. A one way flight from BA to Portland, Oregon cost nearly $1,600! It's not even until the 10th of April; I figured that would be enough of a buffer to get the costs down a little. Turns out I was wrong. I was able to use some credit card points to get the cost down to around a $1,000 but that's still not cheap.

I sent out some job applications () today as well; I'm seeing if I can get a job with a Hot Shot crew this summer. I don't meet the initial qualifications, but I think my military expierence would be just as good. How challenging can it be to hike around and make fire lines in a national forest? Actually, now that I think about it, it's probably pretty challenging.

I went to lunch today at a famous cafe in downtown BA.



I'm not totally up to speed on this place, but it's been open for over 150 years and Borges (a famous Argentinian author) ate here, so it sounded cool to me.

I've been pretty impressed by BA so far. It's very modern and fairly clean and the people seem pretty nice. You can always tell how modern a city is by the number of Starbucks and McDonalds that they have. BA has about one of each on every other block which means that it's about on par with an American city.



Since I've got about a week to kill before I have to have the bike at the airport, I'm going to ride over to Uruguay and spend some time hanging out on the beach, working on my tan, and trying to get back in shape. However, when I get back to BA, I'm going to dedicate some serious time to honing my Tango skills...
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Old 03-26-2013, 05:24 PM   #1530
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Bryce,
Do you have any construction experience?
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