Across Americas - Discovering the New World on a motorcycle

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by AnjinSan, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    The New World IV.16 - Atacama

    We’ve been in Argentina for only one day and here we are, already going for a heist escape towards Chilean border, across the Jama mountain pass.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    This is not because we were not enjoying Argentina but just because we decided to save it for later and try to see how Atacama desert in Chile is. I must admit I was a little bit anxious to cross Atacama desert, one of the driest places on Earth (annual rain is 1 millimeter).


    Read it further on Micadu, here.
  2. jbcaddy

    jbcaddy Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,238
    Location:
    Oroville & Placerville, California U.S.of A.
    still following your journey, I am enjoying the ride! photos of the canoe shortly :D
  3. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    Thank you :) And I am looking forward for the canoe photos. In about 3 weeks I should be home so just in time to use them :)
  4. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    On our journey, we crossed paths with many other travelers, using all kinds of transportation means. From the simple hitchhiking to bicycles, tricycles, motorcycles and all the way up to caravans. Different people on different journeys. But all of them had something in common: they were smiling!
    [​IMG]
  5. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    With the pace I am uploading this I think I will lose any hoe of ever getting back to correct mistakes. So please forgive any misspellings.


    The day we’ve visited the Desert Hand in Atacama, was the last day we had our Nikon D3000 photo camera in proper working conditions. Sometime after that stop a stone must have hit it in the display, something that we’ve noticed much later during a stop. The bad news was that that the display was cracked and un-usable anymore. The good news was that the camera retained it’s main function: to take pictures. So let’s be happy about that. We will have to make it without the nice shiny colors
    [​IMG]
    What we didn’t know at that time is that this incident was to be only the first of a quite long string of “accidents” happening to our electronics. But for now, the worries were far away, and we were enjoying the fresh cold morning air. The road mingled sinuously between desert rocks and the ocean and everything was so quiet in this morning. Our only companions were the fishing boats, docked in natural harbors.​
    [​IMG]
    Before leaving Romania a friend asked us if we could bring him back home pebbles from the more special places we will encounter. Well, since Atacama left us with a quite strong impression, Andreea decided to take a hmm “small” pebble for him. First try… major fail!​
    [​IMG]
    OK, shall we try again with something more appropiate. Here we go.​
    [​IMG]
    A little bit more South we see police in the street. They wave us down as well. We were not doing anything unlawful so I was thinking Oh, come on guys, we are enjoying Chile, please don’t change that. And just when I was about to forget all my Spanish and all my English and getting ready to have a conversation in Romanian, here are the police guys just telling us that we should be careful as Dakar Rally stage is ending here and there will be a lot of people around. Oh yes?? Bam, suddenly I remember again to speak in Spanish and the sky is bright again. So where is the Dakar? Well on that off-road there. But you cannot go with the motorcycle, the road is closed for public use. OK, but I can walk and take some pictures? Sure, go ahead. Goody!​
    [​IMG]
    Unfortunatelywe could not advance too much so only pics after the checkpoint so no pics from the “heat” of the action, just the finale and the relaxed waves of the ones who did managed to finish the stage. That works good enough!​
    [​IMG]
    It is hot, it is dusty and it is full of people. In the second one of the motorcycles stops, the rider is surrounded by spectators, all wanting to take a picture with the moto, or to shake his hand or to talk to him. It is really impressive to see the show! And a lot of these guys are local heroes.​
    [​IMG]
    We exit back on the main highway and it gets better! Turns out that those who finish the special stage on the insane terrain, get a “bonus” of extra 120 miles on tarmac up to La Serena. That means a lot of race cars, trucks and bikes just sharing the 2 lanes road with us. Uhuuuu!​
    [​IMG]
    For the next 2 and a half hours we feel right in the middle of this awesome event. The guys who finished are naturaly in a happy mood so there is a lot of passing by happening, waving around and posing for pictures. We have fun! And we see a lot of “monsters”. From the 2 wheeled ones​
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Up to some a little bigger… (and with more wheels on them [​IMG] )
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    We are so engorged into the ride that we neglect to fill up when we had the chance. This was because I was only 150 km into the tank and I felt “safe” with so many people around. It didn’t felt like desert anymore. But guess what. IT was! Soon enough we are down to using our extra gas from the plastic recipient. Too soon after that (windy) the light blinks again. The city was still 100 kms away. Great job Alex! How cool it would be to remain without gas in the middle of the Dakar Rally guys! I already see myself waving down some of them for some spare gas. That would have made an interesting story! Luckily in the next village we find a grampa who sells gas from plastic bottles. Naturally, special price for the stranded ones…​
    [​IMG]
    And the old guy knows his business. Dakar or no Dakar he doesn’t drop an inch of his price. Fine, give me 5 liters of your finest! Err…​
    So with our wallet shaken down but with our pride saved, we can rejoin the show​
    [​IMG]
    On the sides of the road, lots of people, all trying to find that special spot for that special shot. Some of them have chairs with them, or blankets, they wave flags and smile. They wave to us as well which makes us feel very bad as we feel that unintentionally we are deceiving them. They came here to see the Dakar and we are not part of the Dakar. We are just two travelers. They keep waving us and I feel like stopping and say sorry sorry guys we are not what you think. Of course that is not possible so we just wave back and hope they are not too disappointed when they don’t see any “racing number” on our windshield.​
    [​IMG]
    And yet… even when we ride very slow and it is clear that the people realize we are not from Dakar, we are 2 up and with luggage, they still wave to us and take pictures. Even when we stop (finally) at a gas station this happens. So maybe it is just that these people are really passionate about 2 wheels? Good for them.​
    We reach Serena in the middle of the racers and… 5PM traffic. All on one lane going into the city. Nice. At least we have nice posters!​
    [​IMG]
    I know, here on the street these guys might look a little bit silly all dressed up with fancy moto suits riding their colorful machines. But it is enough to see them in action for a few minutes and you will get the idea, you would understand what is all the hype about. OK, normally I don’t have YT links but this time…​
    After you see all this, I think you are ready to get out of the door and take the first plane to South America [​IMG] Hmm wait we are not even back home yet. So let’s enjoy South America!​
    We make camp further South from La Serena in a small place near the ocean. Tenting near the water was a nice way to spend the last nigyeht close to the Pacific. Next morning we say good bye to its blue waters. It was to be the last time we will see them in this trip. Until next time! Please don’t get too dirty in the mean time!​
    [​IMG]
    Next was Santiago which totally surprised us. We usually avoid the big cities but here we plunged in and it turned out to be very good times. We meet wonderful Chilean people which since then become our friends (thank you Sandra, you have a wonderful family!)​
    [​IMG]
    We discovered a hot and lazy city, quite empty as a lot of the people were out on holidays – strange sensation walking almost all alone between high concrete buildings, with no cars passing by. Where is the crowded capital?​
    [​IMG]
    We also met a very cool Suzuki dealer. He let us work in his courtyard and even provided an oil pan to use without asking for a penny. Thank you! Then we spent a slow day in the city. We strolled the streets and our slow pace seemed very alert compared to others…​
    [​IMG]
    In the same day we encoutnered the Dakar again. This time at the last day, finish day! Just in time to see some more race cars. No race emotions today, just the parade today.​
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The road South will be quiet and filled with tranquility, nice views and nice people. We stay with CouchSurfing hosts (thanks guys) and discover the very pitoresque part of Chile. But we were looking at the map and despite we had covered some serious ground, we were still closer to Santiago than to Ushuaia. It was time to get back to Argentina and meet Patagonia. We were anctious to enter the last stage of the journey South. Sometimes we wish we could fly to be faster. But riding a motorcycle is as good as it gets [​IMG] Argentina, here we come! Again.​
    [​IMG]
  6. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,338
    Location:
    Banámichi, Sonora, Mexico
    Another great report Alex. Thank you!
  7. SS in Vzla.

    SS in Vzla. Totally Normal? I'm not!

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,217
    Location:
    Banana Republic of Black Gold
    Very nice. Looking forward to the next update :clap
  8. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    Thanks guys! Sometimes it feels quite empty and lonely around here :)
  9. Dracula

    Dracula Deus ex machina

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,055
    Location:
    American Tobacco Trail
    Yeah, are you back in Romania yet.. I haven't been there since 94' and really miss it.
  10. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    Nope,

    still in South America. Will go back at the end of the month. Pretty hectic right now with trying to arrange bike shipment, flights for us and logistics for following 2 weeks and a half. But (too) soon we will be home and find ourselves faced with "reality" again. By then I hope the accounting of our story will be close to final as well otherwise the writing might get a little bitter :)
  11. JohnnyTh

    JohnnyTh Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    231
    Location:
    Norway
    Sure you need to go home? I will miss reading about your adventures :)
  12. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    Thank you. I don't thing we need to "worry"... at the rate I am writing this... I think I will still have some posts to write well after I will be home :p

    Here is the next episode:

    The New World IV.18 – Again in Argentina


    By: AlexMD On March 7, 2013 in Blog, Part IV, The New World

    [​IMG]


    Before crossing back to Argentina, we spent a few days in Valdivia, a small and neat town with a lot of appeal for tourists. All over the place the German influence was very obvious. From the design of the houses to the way people were dressing. But maybe that was accentuated by the fact that we were there when a beer festival was just started. What a coincidence! Hmm it really was a coincidence.Really [​IMG]
    From Valdivia it is just a short ride to the boarder with Argentina. And a very scenic one as well.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Also a total coincidence, we meet Phill again at the boarder. We knew that we were both in the same area but had no idea about his exact plans to cross in the same day with us. So we were very surprised and happy when we saw him riding to the boarder queue.
    [​IMG]
    As I believe it is wise to take note of good events, we decide to wait for him (first time he was entering Argentina so it took a little bit longer for him to set up all the papers for the bike). But even with this wait, the entry in Argentina was quite smooth and no where near the “complexity level” of say… Central America border crossings. Not even one single photocopy to be made, not even one payment that had to be made at a bank which was closed for lunch, nothing tedious or time consuming. Ha! This is sooo good! Chile, see you down the road in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, glad to be baack!
    [​IMG]
    It seems like yesterday that the 2 VStroms, the newer model and the… good looking model (hehe) were making their way through the Peruvian Andes. It is good to ride again together, this time through a very strange, apocalyptic, landscape.
    [​IMG]
    What happened here? Seems that earlier in 2012 Puyehue Volcano, situated some 93 km away, on the Chilean side, erupted violently covering a huge area in thick volcanic ash. We were riding through these places some 10 months later but still, the effects of the volcano were very obvious all around.
    [​IMG]
    We were heading for Bariloche for the night, which at the time of the eruption was totally shut down but now it was in perfect working conditions and ready to receive tourists. The town left us with a very nice impression. Nice houses, very nice people (we sleep with CouchSurfing for the first time in Argentina) and we find out a lot of interesting things about the area. Also we get introduced to the “blue market” when it comes to dollars and getting cash. Officially the Argentinian Peso is linked to the dollar and the official rate is around 5 pesos for 1 dollar. But because the “Cristina administration” implemented some very strict restrictions for Argentinians and it is very hard for them to buy foreign currency, anyone willing to help with that gets a much better rate of above 7 most of the times. As it turns out, this rate is not even “black” anymore, is somewhere in the middle and they call it “blue rate”, and it is shown, every day, on TV as well. So then the question is, you buy official rate to support the official approach, or you buy at any exchange office at the “true” rate and make life a little bit less expensive while in Argentina. Hmmm existential dilemmas… better let’s ride as we are in fact in a very nice area, Lake District.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    From Bariloche the journey takes us on the famous Ruta 40, the longest road in Argentina. The road is like a Mecca for motorcyclists and quite known for the “capricious” moods of the winds in its Southern parts.​
    [​IMG]
    The reason for the high winds is quite simple: there is nothing to stop it. Between the majestic mountains in the West and the ocean in the East, there is nothing really high in the path of the winds. Not even forests, or big hills, nothing. So it can build up tremendous speeds.​
    [​IMG]
    The warning signs are all over the place. On our first day on Ruta 40, w are lucky enough to get a mild day. No high wind so we can stop at one of the signs for the “classic photo” and also we can joke around about “oh look, the wind blows so hard”!​
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Yeah… if I only new then what was in store for us in the next days… maybe I wouldn’t have been so cheerful. But for now, all was good, even the birds could fly without any hinder.​
    [​IMG]
    A big portion of the Rute 40 is under way to be paved, this to the disappointment of some of the motorcyclists. But all is not lost for the off-road lovers as there are a lot of alternatives and side roads that can be taken to keep the dirt fun meter at high levels while the trucks and others with less prepared bikes or car will enjoy the tarmac in a few years. But as for now, not all of Ruta 40 is paved so during next day we hit the ripio as well.​
    [​IMG]
    Nothing too special about it normally but the hard part here was the wind that was trying to blow you all the time outside of the truck tracks and into the deep gravel. IF that happened it was not fun at all. Especially if you had high speed, which… we were very far from having.​
    [​IMG]
    In fact we were crawling with an average speed of 20-30 km/h. That will not take us anywhere. After some kilometers of “fun with the winds and stones” we hit sand as well. At one moment I lose traction of the back wheel and off we go again in the deep sand. It is true that also the Bridgestone Trailwing is not the most apt tire for sand and ours was quite worn out and in dire need of chance. But still… not fun at all.​
    [​IMG]
    Phill was was riding in front, comes to the rescue and helps push the bike out of the sand as only with throttling it was just more digging and no advancing. Finally we move on and soon we find another tarmac patch and the ride gets smoother and… tilted to right. Here is Phill riding straight, on a straight like an arrow road. I’m thinking that in this pace we will worn out the sides of our tires (at least the right side) without even being on a curvy road. Ha ha!
    [​IMG]
    We reach a fork in a road and a decision point. To the right there is the shortest route, 2-3 more days of mostly ripio. To the left there was the 300-400 km longer option, all tarmac but longer and “without glory”. What to do, what to do… An armadillo was looking at us from the ground, but didn’t want to give up his opinion on the matter.​
    [​IMG]
    Oh well both me and Phill decide that we will call quits on the ripio as we were not having so much fun on it because of the wind (especially me with the worn out tire and heavy loaded). And the thing was, if there was no other alternative, we would have continued on the bad roads. But since there was an alternative, then we decide that we have nothing to prove to anyone and we will take the safest route, that more suited our bikes (and in my case, my riding abilities, I am a beginner rider…).​
    It was getting also quite late and soon enough we will have to look for a place to camp. On Phill’s GPS there was a town coming up. So we headed that way.​
    [​IMG]
    And speaking of GPS… somewhere on Ruta 40 our Chinese GPS decided to break down as well. We were not using that much in this trip anyway as it had a different software than Garmin software so we didn’t had maps for a long time for countries lower than Mexico. Then I managed to install Garmin software on it, but it was not working properly and was freezing all the time. But still, seeing our GPS not working after we did took care of it for so long, it was not good for the morale. Also, suddenly, the matter of finding our way in the busy Northern parts of Argentina became an issue. But now we are still heading South where the roads are few and our simple paper map should be enough. So we will worry about the GPS later on.​
    [​IMG]
    The city where we were hopping to stop for the night turns out to be just a good spot to fill up. The camping proved to be in an advanced state of dirtiness and was “inhabited” by some drunk locals. So not the best spot to pitch the tent.​
    [​IMG]
    It was quite late and we had only 30 minutes of light but we decide to head out and look for a camp spot outside the city, or a camping site in the next town.​
    [​IMG]
    But, to our surprise, we found that we are in an oil extraction area. So not only that everythign was fenced out, there were big signs every where with “private property” and “do not enter”. Hmm so much for our “wild camping”.​
    [​IMG]
    It’s getting later and later and the sunset light puts on some awesome shows for us.​
    [​IMG]
    We are in an unfamiliar place, with lots of oil pumps and extraction installations around us and we have no idea where we will sleep. But the sunset and the big round moon on the other side make us forget any worry.​
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    And that’s it, the sun is below the horizon. We stop in a round-about, at the entry of a small town (we will found out later it is called Pico Truncado) where a big steel dinosaur is watching us in the crepuscular light.​
    [​IMG]
    A few hours before, when we made the decision to leave Ruta 40 (the “glorious” way) and took this route (the safe way) I was not very sure we are doing the right thing and not just chicken out. But yet again, we will soon find out that everything has a reason and our choices would lead us to a great experience and wonderful new friends. Though for now, we could only wonder what to do, on the side of the road near the “ferocious” dinosaur.​
    [​IMG]
    And… here is another motorycle, slowly entering the round-about. The rider notices us and stops as well. I go and talk to him. His name is Daniel and he would play an important role in our journey rather soon, in just a few weeks, but we had no idea about that then. We meet and it turns out he is riding a VStrom as well. He is from Pic Truncado, and today he was coming from Chile but had a flat tire some kilometers away so that’s why now he had to move so slow.​
    [​IMG]
    “Daniel I have a flat tire repair kit, we could try and fix your flat”. No, this is not necessary as he owns an auto repair shop just a few blocks away and he will ride his motorcycle there. OK, then maybe you want to use our air pomp to put some air into your tire? Just for the short ride? Yes, this would be very helpful, let’s do it. I pull Gunnar close to his motorcycle and take out the pump. We start it but strangely enough the tire does not get harder. The air is escaping faster than the pump is able to push it in. We soon discover that in fact he did not had a flat tire but rather a bent rim. Ouch! that will be harder to fix, and there is nothing we can do there on the side of the road. I put my ari pump back and Daniel is telling us that if we want, we could follow him to the auto shop and we could sleep there for the night. If we are not picky and we don’t mind the auto and oil smells. Ha, are you joking? That would be GREAT! Thank you!
    So we head of, this time 3 vstroms, in the dark side roads from the town’s periphery.
    [​IMG]
    We don’t even know what to say anymore. This guy was coming after a long day of riding, he had a flat tire that made him go slow and tedious, a flat tire which just turned out to be a much bigger problem and still he was not grumpy he was not mad, he was not going directly home to sleep it over. He invited us to stay at his workshop and was talking to us very happy. Just before letting us sleep and going home, he said: “I am happy that all this happened like this. I will fix the wheel, it will be just time. But I am happy that I did not had an accident when the problem occurred and then all this lead to meet you. So it all happened for a good reason” What more could we say?​
    [​IMG]
    This is what we think as well and these kind of meetings, that happened to us all over the Americas, from Canada, Alaska all the way to here, Argentina, remind us again and again that people kindness is everywhere. And traveling can be such a fulfilling experience that can teach you so many things.​
    Tonight our sleeping bags are on the floor, between engine oil cans. And we sleep very well. Good night!​
    [​IMG]
  13. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    Just realized that yesterday, on 19th of March, there are 8 months since we've started the trip! Who would have thought that we would last so long? :p
  14. SS in Vzla.

    SS in Vzla. Totally Normal? I'm not!

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,217
    Location:
    Banana Republic of Black Gold
    8 months on the road... :clap
  15. Dracula

    Dracula Deus ex machina

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,055
    Location:
    American Tobacco Trail
    Argentina looks beautiful and you seem to always find the nicest people.
    I wonder how does it feel to be on the road for 8 months! Enough, too much or want more... When I left for just one month to Alaska I felt was in a rush and missed seeing many places, most I have been to would have deserved a more leisurely pace to enjoy. That was close to 12,000 miles trip and I only had few days of relaxing from riding 400 to 600 mile days with my longest being almost 800 miles. I am sure the same can not be done in Central or South America due to road conditions and time spend crossing borders.

    Thanks for keeping up with the RR updates, really enjoy the story telling and pictures.
  16. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    The New World IV.19 – Flowers of the south


    By: AlexMD On March 12, 2013 in Blog, Part IV, The New World





    Alaska and British Columbia seem so far far away. It was august. English was all around us and the only bits of Spanish we knew were “no me mates por favor” and “¿Donde Esta el baño?” (second one necessary immediately after if we would ever needed the first one) Andreea had red long hair. We were still at the beginning. Mexico was just a thought of missing heart beat and Argentina a drawing on a map.
    [​IMG]
    But now, here we are, saying our goodbyes to Daniel in a basic and quite skittish Spanish (but containing words certainly more useful than what we knew before ), learned on the way down here from Mexico. But he understands. And we understand him. “I wish you a good journey and take care, the wind down here is getting worse”. Hmm … worse than it was before? WE sure hope it will not be the case.
    Good bye Daniel and gracias! See you next time!
    [​IMG]
    But why do I remember now about Alaska and British Columbia? Because today we are going again to a glacier, a sight so majestic and often encountered in the northern province and state. This time, the glacier is quite famous because it seems for a long time it was the only glacier in the Americas which did not retreat but on the contrary, it was growing in size. First we need to get to El Calafate, the touristy town some 80 kilometers away from the Perito Moreno glacier.
    The road is not without nice encounters.
    [​IMG]
    We are getting close to El Calafate and things get a little more variety in terms of landscape. Hills, valleys and looming in the distance the Andes. All right. Means that soon we will be there.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    In El Calafate we enter on a triumphant weather with blue sky and white clouds
    [​IMG]
    Unfortunately we do not feel as triumphant as the weather. Instead, we are seriously beaten by the wind, we have only fumes of petrol in our tanks ( the reserve from the plastic can is long used as well, because winds, consumption is somewhere on the level of a poorly tuned tractor) and in addition Gunnar is behaving a little odd. I do not understand exactly what it is but I hear a strange noise from the transmission. So no chariot entrance with flowers for us thank you very much hehe. But we are happy to see the sign to the town which unfortunately was already taken for a photo session by others so we did not stop. In fact, I think we were more afraid that if we do stop, there will be no gas to start back on. I preferable to “roll” to a gas station.
    [​IMG]
    In the city, many buildings and trees make the winds rather harmless. Working gas station which releases the much need, bad smelling fluits for our bikes in echance of some swapping of a plastic thingy, so another problem solved we have fuel. But … the problem with noise from my transmission remains. Without a helmet, in calm weather it is very distinct. Pulling to one side and examining the chain reveals the fact that it is very loose. Should not be that loose. Something is not right. Phill has a look as well but the only way to investigate more is to open the plastic cover from the gear shifter. We need a plce to stop. And since El Calafate is a very touristic place, it is a good idea to stay away from the hotels. Camping it is!
    [​IMG] Photo by Phill!

    We take off the shifter cover and the news are not too good. The chain got some tight points. a lot of them, and the front sprocket has shark teethes. And the hole transmission has only 18,000 km, it is much too early to give up. I thought it would get me home. Especially since I’ve been taking care of it, much like the first chain which lasted over 30000 km. But the reality is that I have to find a new chain. And fast.
    [​IMG]
    We have internet and that was good. After doing some researc, looks like we have 3 possible options: a moto store in Punta Arenas( the direction we were planning to head in the first place) a motorcycle store in Rio Gallegos (300+ km the way we came here) and also Daniel was trying to source something from us back in Pico Truncado. After sending the email asking about the chain there is nothing much to do than to wait for an answer. And better to wait actively by visiting the “Black Little Dog” glacier (Perito Moreno) which is some 80 km away from El Calafate ( 160 round trip). I am in no mood of using my bike because of the chain issue so we go out and source alternative transportation means. Bus?
    [​IMG]
    There are only 2 buses going to Perito Moreno, one is very early in the morning and one is about 3 hours later. And they have some exorbitant prices! So I guess no bus this time… OK there are other options: Phill’s bike is very much functional and Andreea could ride with him. That leaves me… And I can find another way…
    [​IMG] Photo courtesy of Phill!

    Hitchhiking! It’s been a while since I’ve done this. Let’s see… if I put on my best smile it shouldn’t take too long, should it? 20 minutes. Not too bad I would say. I was fearing that I will never find a ride. Andreea takes a quick photo, not sure if she was taking a photo of me or of the license plate of the SUV…
    [​IMG]
    But the guys turn out to be very nice and we get to chat in Spanish all the way to the park. Very cool people. From the parking lot they go on to see the glacier, i am waiting for Phill and Andreea to come on the moto. That waiting made me understand my parents a little bit. Boy was I anctious knowing they are riding a motorcycle (the damn things are dangerous you know??) and was so happy to see them arriving safe and sound. At least the view while waiting was not bad at all…
    [​IMG]
    With the team reunited, we head to the glacier as well
    [​IMG]
    Now, this was not for sure the first piece of ice we’ve seen. But this was for sure impressive. The size and the fact that one can get so close to it.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The weather is no very sunny and there is rain over Perito. But that is fin, somehow it feels suitable for it to be so gloomy
    [​IMG]
    After each step the views are changing and keep you busy
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    As for the scale, it gets really into perspective when you see the “little” boat (which was not little at all) that was hauling tourists closer to the ice wall.
    [​IMG]
    We are glad to be able to bring our national costumes in such a wonderful place as well.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Behind us there are loud cracking sounds from time to time. The glacier seems to have life inside and big pieces of ice fall in the water and float away.
    [​IMG]
    It is getting late so it is time to head back. By pure coincidence we met another Romanian in our camping, Florin is also a traveler but his means of transportation is a bicycle. He and his girlfiend are out to explore South America. They are really nice people and we spend a lot of time telling stories. They started their journey in Ushuaia heading North, hoping to reach Ecuador. Compared to what they are doing our journey is a piece of cake, we don`t have to pedal every day to get to our next destination. And, of course, that keeps them in very good shape. You can follow their trip on Facebook, here. We wished them good luck and we look forward to seeing them again in Romania on their way back.
    We are enjoying their company and time goes by easily but unfortunately still no news by email about Gunnar`s chain. The guy in Punta Arenas, Chile (the place we wanted to go next after Perito Moreno), who initially answered on the stop now doesn`t answer any of my emails. Daniel is the only one who answers on time letting us know that there is bigger motorcycle store in Rio Gallegos, he bought his Vstrom from there. We might find what we are looking for there. So we decide to go to Rio Gallegos the next morning. Well, depends how you define morning as we have a tent to pack. I don`t know how tidy you are when it comes to camping but usually everything has its proper place in our tent:
    [​IMG]
    We stop at the gas station outside of town to fuel up and fill up the spare canisters also. A man approches us letting us know that wind is really strong today and we should be careful. And, unfortunately, he was right. Our ride into El Calafate 2 days ago was piece of cake compared to what we have to deal with now.Here is Phill again, leaning in the wrong direction while trying to take a left curve. We followed him closely using the same technique. You must admit that this is an unique experience for a motorcyclist: leaning to the right while heading left….
    [​IMG]
    It`s not easy at all to ride under these conditions. 100 kilometers later we say “goodbye” to Phill. It`s no use for the three of us to make this big detour so Phill will follow the initial plan and will head for Chile. We assure him that we will be all right and head for Rio Gallegos, that means going back 200 kilometers but we are hoping to find a new chain that will enable us to continue our trip. We knew what road to take but couldn`t figure out where it would take us.
    [​IMG]
    See you next time!
    [​IMG]
  17. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    8 months is too little time. 1 year would have been more relaxed and appropriate for our pace. We felt rushed in some instances. But then again we took our time a lot in other places. So in the end is a give and take and one has to adapt to the given time (and $$$) and be happy about being blessed with the chace to do this.


    As for the milage... you would be surprised how much one can cover in South America. But the question is, do you really want to do that? Or rather you would prefer to stop more, take your time more? But in this trip I think we never had a day with more than 700 km. Which would be less than 500 miles I think. And a lot of them in Central and South America we had around 300 km (so less than 200 miles) per day on average.

    I remember that 1 year ago, when I was planning this, I had 2 main problems: didn't know if I have enough time and didn't know if I had enough money. (there is even a thread around here with my "childish" questions). Now, after 8 months on the road I strongly feel that doing the trip in less time is much much better than not doing it at all because you are afraid of lack of time. Similarly, going on the open road, unsure if you have all the necessary funds and adapt to the amount you have, is much much better than to not go at all. Even though going with little money will raise some problems.

    Of course, I am saying all this within some reasonable limits. There are people how are doing the same trip in just 3-4 months (heck the record is I believe 20 something days). I would do that. Also there are people going to the extremes with spending, either low or high. I wouldn't do that neither. (if not for other reason then just because wife wouldn't be happy and if wife not happy... hmmm you get the idea :p )
  18. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,338
    Location:
    Banámichi, Sonora, Mexico
    es la verdad.
  19. Dracula

    Dracula Deus ex machina

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,055
    Location:
    American Tobacco Trail
    Alex, I really appreciate your insight. Your view on the chemistry that makes up a great travel experience is spot on in my book, and I especially agree with making it possible to take enough time to fully enjoy. So I guess I have your answer that you would have enjoyed even longer time on the road.

    I also agree that doing it anyway is much better than worrying and not having the courage to start. In fact the adventure starts with these worries.

    Given a good health, money is probably the only limiting factor for most folks. You are right, one's luxury can be someone else's bare necessities so spending can be quite different living on the road. But for a sensible traveler there is likely a balance to be found.

    For example, I have been in few organized tours, for the person having to return to their regular job within few weeks, they offer a quick taste of exotic travel enhanced by the camaraderie of fellow travelers, albeit they are usually costly because you get all the arrangements/services done on your behalf, and way too short. So now I think self taught travel is the way to go and go the real distance. But that means quitting job and really committing to the adventure, for which I admire your power of decision.

    The truth is you can buy time with money but you cannot really buy health and life. I think it is (at least used to be until the latest economics climate) so common in the developed world to get into the habit of making and spending money on frivolous life choices, buying fancier cars, bigger houses, boats, latest ipod, etc. soon realizing we have little time to actually enjoy all those things and it only ties us down to obligations to pay and worries to care for these possessions. Of course someone might tell me I don't really needed a GS1200 but I love it and consider it a bare necessity for my soul. :D But I won't buy another motorcycle until I absolutely have worn this one beyond repair, which may be a while if I take good care of it.


    We don't take these things with us when we leave this world, the only thing of true value that remains are the good memories. So I guess the decision for most of us who agree with you is when enough is enough and hit the road. There is a time for everything in life, and I think you have chosen wisely following your hearts to do this trip now. Having your significant other fully supporting and going along makes it exponentially orders of magnitude better as you are able to share the experiences and will put a smile on your faces when you will recollect all of them.

    Thank you for sharing the experience, please keep posting the beautiful updates and your thoughts from wherever you are.
  20. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    The New World IV.20 – Tinkering with the bike


    By: AlexMD On March 15, 2013 in Blog, Part IV, The New World





    Tinkering with the bike: January 31 – February 2nd
    We check out Phill and his motorcycle in our rear mirrors and soon he is just a small yellow dot. He is heading for Chile and we have to clatter (blame the chain for that) our way to Rio Gallegos. We have high expectations.
    It was Thursday, right before noon and we were optimistic, hoping to find what we need today and maybe even change the chain.
    [​IMG]
    We gloriously (ahem... trink trink trink) arrive in the city. We know the name of the motorcycle store so we decide to stop by and check it out. We stop at a gas station to ask for directions and we get our answer in no time: today, (yap, today of all days) is a holiday, everyone in the district has a day off so everything is closed. Oh, what a joy…. We still go check out the store hoping they would be an exception but all we get is a locked door and iron bars. Ok, we come back tomorrow. Now let´s find a place to sleep.
    [​IMG]
    We knew about a camping outside the city but we weren´t really in a mood to camp. Wind was blowing pretty hard and there was no shelter from it also we needed internet to check our emails from the spare parts news in case this was not going to turn out good . So let´s look for something in the city.
    All the hotels are ridiculously expensive and we cannot understand why. Rio Gallegos is not a major touristic attraction, the location is no where near a well known landmark, so why is everything so damn expensive? We keep riding around the town, must be a cheap hotel around here somewhere. As I am waiting for Andreea to come from a hotel (one of so many) I notice a car stopping close to me. A man comes out asking me if I am ok and if I need help. I am telling him that we are fine just that we are looking for a place to sleep, what else can you do on a day when everything is closed. The man tells me that he was having a coffee in an Esso gas station and saw us passing up and down (from one hotel to the other) and thought we might need some help. He told us there is a cheaper hotel close to his house and he can take us there if we want.
    [​IMG]
    Hmm, ok, please do. We get there. It seems to be a hotel. Above the door there is a sign saying H-O-T-E-L. But there is no one there. We ring the bell, knock on the door. Nothing. Our new friend, Oscar, also tries. But he doesn´t get any answer either.
    We thank him for the help and prepare for another round of searching. Then Oscar says “My friends, do you enjoy this wind so much? Are you looking for luxury or would you be fine with less than 5 stars?´cause I have an empty attic. There is no furniture but it is warm and it has (only) a soft carpet, you can put your sleeping bags there. Oh, it´s unbelievable, it´s happening again, that smack in the head that says: this is why you travel. No, I don't mean the free accommodation. That, being as good as it is for the budget, is of less importance than the feeling you get meeting open people, that try to help with what they have. People who not only cut short their coffee break to help us but end up inviting us into their home. Well, Oscar, if it is OK with you, your soft carpet will be our luxury place for the night just fine..
    [​IMG]
    Oh, but what about our motorcycle… Oscar finds the solution again “we put it inside, of course”. Now let me explain better. The door to Oscar´s house is right in the alley, you open it and get inside a small room that´s kitchen and living room in the same time, there is a small hallway that goes to his bedroom and the bathroom and a wooden ladder going to the attic. That´s all there is and still this man is so relaxed with having us in his attic and Gunnar in his living room (we had to do some remodelling to have it fit in).
    [​IMG]
    And there we have it, with a little bit of effort I can get Gunnar fit a normal apartment door.
    Oscar takes us in his car (too windy for walking) to show us the city and we soon realize that lots of people know him. Many of them say “hello” and ask who are we. He gives them a simple answer “They are from Europe and travelled by motorcycle from Alaska to here”. Then he lowers his voice and adds proudly “I am hosting them. We are Argentinians and we should show them the Argentinian hospitality”.
    [​IMG]


    The second day it´s time to go to the store. Yes, they have a chain, it´s DID (great!) but… it´s non o-ring (hmmm). They have the front sprocket also but they don´t have the rear one. Ok, I will buy what they have. It´s not like I have other options. I am not in a position to bargain about the price either. Having a store in such a remote area you are entitled to set some daring (trying to keep it polite :p) prices I guess. And I do need someone to pun on the chain as that´s something I cannot do by myself in Oscar´s living room. I didn´´t have the proper tool to cut the old chain, adjust the new one or the right tool to change the sprocket. So I needed their help. So I ask them if they can do it… and here comes the "good part": “yes, we can but you need to make an appointment”. “Fine. I can do that. And then we start the job?” “Oh, no, we are free after 3 p.m.” It was 10 a.m. I don´t give up, I try to explain that I am travelling and it would really help me if they could do it faster so I don´t get stuck here another day. Their answer doesn´t change. The service is one street away so I decide to stop by and check it out: there were 3 guys in there and no motorcycles. They had no work. What can I do, I leave the place and come back at 3 p.m. There are good people and… people.
    So I go back at 2:30 p.m. Nobody looks at me. It´s past 3 and nothing. I decide to go to the mechanic, telling him I have an appointment. “What appointment? Nobody told me about any appointment.” I show him my receipt, I already paid for the job at 10 a.m. “Oh, but why didn´t you come straight here? I was free the whole day.” Oh, why didn´t I?!?!? But let´s just say it was miscommunication…
    He gives a call and it turns out that his boss forgot to inform him about my appointment.No biggy, we can start now.



    As I am waiting for my guy to change the chain I see 2 Brazilians stopping by the store. One is on a BMW, the other one on a VStrom.They need an oil change. Guess what? They need an appointment (and again, there was not much going on in the workshop, I was the only external client and there were 3-4 mechanics around). And they have to come tomorrow morning. That´s unbelievable! I am not in a position to judge how others run their business. Probably if your service has created a name for itself, and has certain standards it´s impossible not to act “professional-up-tight-class" about it. But even then, when you have people were from another country, obviously caming a long way, tired and blown away by the weather, you might cut them some slack eh? They got to a “motorcycle friendly” place and all they needed was an oil change to go on with their journey. I don´t know how long it takes to change the oil for a BMW 12000 GS but it´s half an hour for a VStrom. But no, they had to come tomorrow morning for their appointment . So the two motorcyclists have nothing more to say or do but go back to their motorcycles. Don´t know if they came back the second day, a nice summer day.
    [​IMG]


    We left Rio Gallegos contemplating about all that happened to us in such a short time. We cannot be upset about the place. They had what we needed (partially) and that was important. The rest was just a lesson of life. Or of what to do and what not to do when (and if) I will have a "tienda" somewhere in a far corner of the world...


    And on top of everything else, here goes Oscar showing us Artentinian hospitality again. Just when we were about to leave he says: “this is the only route to take on your way back North, so you will be stopping here again. You have to stay at my place again. I might be at work or somewhere, so here is the spare key from the house. Take it with you, use it when you are back. Come in and feel at home. Ride safe!”
    [​IMG]


    And here we are heading for Punta Arenas, passing one more time the border into Chile. This time there was a huge line at the border.Stretching outside in cold and wind, it made a good opportunity to discuss "border life" with some Argentinians that lived near by. Due to borders configuration if you want to cross from main land to TIerra del Fuego (Argentinian side), you need to pass through ~200 kilometers of Chile, so that's 2 border crossings and a ferry crossing of Magellan's straight. That's quite tough for people leaving at the border and having family on the other side. They have to do all the border formalities all the time, each time. For me, as a tourist, doing them once suddenly seemed far less a pain in the ass.

    [​IMG]
    We buy a new rear tire in Punta Arenas and take some time to walk around the city. We like the place. We laugh, and walk along in our sandals (apparently the easiest way for South Americans to recognise an European tourist), we make jokes of all kind of things. It´s just the two of us and we are loving it.
    [​IMG]
    It´s interesting how politics is everywhere, even here, so close to the “end of the world”. Apparently Punta Arenas has its own artists and their views are pretty harsh….
    [​IMG]


    The truth must be (as always) somewhere out there, in the middle. We prefer to stay out of it, admire the bright colors and hope for a peaceful future.



    As we got back to our hostel we noticed that our room was under a thorough examination process.
    [​IMG]


    Next day was 3rd of February. I was turning 30, but you already know that story.