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Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Ulyses, Oct 29, 2012.
Excellent Baja engineering.
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.:eek1
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!
. . . . . .
Increible! Dios esta contigo.
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.
So far, so good.
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.
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...
Do you have any construction experience?
Tango is fascinating! We had a couple lessons; you can learn it little by little and if you want it to stick with you, you'll have to practice. Of course, even if you don't practice later, it should be great fun being shown how! Don't forget to give back...
Well, if you count building shelves in my garage and tent decks in Afghanistan as construction experience, then yes, I'm a master builder! Haha.
No, not really. I enjoy building things and working on all things mechanical, but it's usually just my little side projects. I've never worked in construction. I'm sure I could pick it up pretty fast though.
Hey Bryce, It's been some time since i dont check on your RR and now you are in Baires, amazing!!!
I love the city!! I'm just going to list a couple of things you can do if you are just killing some time. I'm sure everybody is telling you a thousand things you shouldn't miss, but if you just do a couple of them you can get a pretty good feeling for what the city is all about.
The yellow city tour bus -
it's actually pretty cool. You pay the fee, and you have the pass for 24 hours, they take you literally everywhere, there are about 15 stops, if you see something,you like, you get out there and the buses come very 30 min, you jump on the next one and keep on going with the same pass.You can spend all day riding on the bus. Just try to get a headphone that works and there is audio in English explaining each part of the tour. Stops at La Boca, San Telmo and Galerias Pacifico are a must.
San Telmo -
Is one of the barrios of Baires, go there on Sunday morning, there is a pretty cool antiques market and performers on the street. People dancing tango and the usual hippies.
You go there at night, any day of the week after 10pm, but is better if its thru-Saturday. Many bars, good beer, safe, and one of the best nights in Baires start there. I wouldn't miss it .
By far the best Irish bar in BA, the best time is the after office. About 7pm till wherever you can handle.
Restaurant el Federal -
It is a great place to taste all kind of food from Argentina. They have a degustation menu that is just amazing. A little steep and reservations are needed, but totally worth it.
If you ask me, the best pizza In Buenos Aires. You can go for lunch and have a slice in the bar standing up next to Porteños form the offices around. It is on Av Corrientes, two blocks from 9 de Julio going west. Great experience.
Ice cream at Freddo-
Dulce de leche granizado con mousse de Arandanos. My favorite, wow! I cloud have 1 kilo right now.
Cafe Tortoni - the history of the place is amazing, it would be great if you can go back for the tango show.
Here is a picture of me with my dad last year at Cafe Tortoni.
Shot me a question if you need anything. Good luck and enjoy.
I look forward to your crate building pics.
Still enjoying your ride report. And yes the Hot Shots would be lucky to get you. Have them call me for references you fire fighting maniac.
Still enjoy checking your ride report. Keep up the good work amigo. Look forward to seeing you down the road.
Dulce de leche - that was amazing in Uruguay!
Dulce de leche ice cream is good, but "Dulce de leche granizado" has chocolate chunks in it. it takes it to a whole new level!!!:dg
I can imagine! I love chocolate. But the dulce de leche I'm talking about is just that, no ice cream. Looks like white fudge.
Why build a crate, find a motoshop, they get their bikes in crates, just buy one cheap
Great RR . Been lurkin' for months.
But I have a question-
How have you been dealing with the official 5.1 pesos to the buck rate when its 8 or 8 1/2 in the markets? (that's 70% more and mo' iz betta' !!)
GDA (gracias de antemano)
Read your ride report all the way through a few weeks ago and have been following the updates ever since, really thorough and I've gained a lot of information to inform some aspects of my own trip that's kicking off in August. So, thank you. I've been doing some drawings of the bikes that make these incredible journeys for those people whose ride reports I've really enjoyed... just as way to say thanks. I'm planning on offering commission pieces for other inmates as way to raise some money for my own trip, but for now doing some of my own choosing to see if people are liking them. Below is yours, feel free to use however you'd like and thanks again for the great reporting man!