Oregon to Ushuaia on an XR650L

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Ulyses, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,173
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Day 169 (April 4, 2013)
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Day's Ride: 20.5 Miles

    <IFRAME height=480 marginHeight=0 src="https://www.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Dr+Carlos+Tejedor+1379,+Florida+-+Vicente+L%C3%B3pez,+Buenos+Aires+(1602)+Argentina&daddr=Au.+Teniente+General+Pablo+Ricchieri&hl=en&geocode=FVHx8P0d6xqD_CnvUbuCLre8lTHRnt5YEhc7Yg%3BFeQ97f0dyfqC_A&aq=4&oq=aeropuerto&sll=-34.784765,-58.52005&sspn=0.110533,0.220757&mra=dme&mrsp=1&sz=12&ie=UTF8&t=p&ll=-34.693074,-58.514557&spn=0.541985,0.878906&z=10&output=embed" frameBorder=0 width=640 marginWidth=0 scrolling=no></IFRAME>
    <SMALL>View Larger Map</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>Started off the day with a little bike cleaning. A couple people have warned me that pulling a muddy bike off the plane can mean fines when you arrive in the states; I figured a little pressure washing would solve that.</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>[​IMG]</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>Even though I asked very politely, they wouldn't let me run the hose. I cringed every time the guy running the pressure washer ran it over the wheels. It seems like all the workers at car washes have a tendency to aim straight for the wheel bearings.</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>With all of the mud from the Carretera Austral finally washed off, I headed back to Dakar Motos to load up and get ready to head to the airport with Peter, a Brit on an Africa Twin.</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>[​IMG]</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>I had a great time riding the last 20 miles through Buenos Aires rush hour traffic. A few more minutes of white lining and passing on the right had me wishing that I didn't have to send the bike home just yet.</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>[​IMG]</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>We arrived at the airport and linked up with another rider, a Colombian on a BMW F650. Eventually, we were lead into a warehouse where we had our bikes weighed (I came in at 220 kilos fully loaded) and then put on a palates.</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>[​IMG]</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>The palates for all three bikes were of the same length; I had been expecting something more "crate" like. However, with the palate already pre-built, the only things that I could do to my bike to reduce the overall dimensions of the palate, and hence the cost of shipping, were to make it as short and light as possible.</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>With my bike up on the palate, I set to work removing the windscreen, handlebars, support struts, and front tire. I had been planning on removing the rear wheel two, but eventually decided against it due to the fact that the Aduana staff were getting ready to go on a three hour lunch break. I really didn't want to be hanging out at the airport all day while I waited for the Argentinians to get their act together. I also had to drain all of the gas out. I gave it one of the guys who was doing the crating for us.</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>With the bike resting on the front forks, the workers built a little wooden bracket to keep it from moving around, then began strapping the bike down with nylon webbing.</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>[​IMG]</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>With the bike secured to the pallet, I began cramming my gear into all of the available nooks and crannies. For some reason, you aren't allowed to put camping gear on the pallet with your bike which meant that I would now be stuck lugging around my tent and sleeping bag for the next few days. Luckily, we were allowed to put riding gear on the pallet. At least I don't have to wear that white body armor through the airport when I fly home...</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>[​IMG]</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>The next step was the scanner. A forklikft came over, picked up my bike, placed it on a little conveyor, let the Aduana people run it through their massive x-ray machine, then picked it up and brought it back.</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>[​IMG]</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>The final step involved wrapping the entire bike in massive swaths of plastic wrap. </SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>[​IMG]</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>I tried to get some more pictures of the final product, but one of the Aduana ladies finally noticed my camera and told me that pictures were prohibited in the loading bay. Bah humbug!</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>I said one last fair well to my Caballo de Hierro, my faithful steed "El Senior", and then headed out with Peter and Marichio (the Colombian rider) to catch a micro bus back into the city. I decided to not be too nostalgic; that could wait a few days until things settled down. Besides, I wasn't finished with the whole shipping process yet; the final price and payment for the shipment would all be worked out the next day, downtown in the freight office headquarters.</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>That night I met up with Dylan, Corey, and Steve (aka RexBuck from "South America by Geezer") at the Kilkenny, a famous Irish pub in downtown BA. Thanks for the recommendation, diegotek!</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>[​IMG]</SMALL>
    <SMALL></SMALL>
    <SMALL>:freaky</SMALL>
  2. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,173
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Decent? That thing was like 17 inches! Plus, you didn't have to pay $100 for a guide.
  3. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    274
    Location:
    Near Seattle
    I just came across your RR and skipped to the end. Hopefully I can catch up on your report in the next few days. Where did you stay in BA? I'm in Pucon Chile and have an appointment at DakarMotos in two weeks to wrap up our trip. I was wondering how much you could ship on the pallet. We are a group of 6, three from Seattle, two from Oregon and one from Idaho. The two guys from Oregon made this trip 50 years ago and this is their anniversary ride! Thanks for sharing!:clap
  4. purpledrake

    purpledrake No Pretensions

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
    Oddometer:
    334
    Location:
    Seattle-ish
    Geeeeez, DonNH. Where &*&# have you been? 6 guys from the PNW, and nobody connected with this thread? Where is your thread?

    Now i am mad. Hurry up and tell us your story, BEFORE you ship your bikes!
  5. 805gregg

    805gregg Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,608
    Location:
    Ojai, Ca
    Cool, a job well done enjoyed your RR
  6. advFord

    advFord Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    463
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    I honestly didn't think you'd make it. congrats! After you were ran over by the boat and then surfing your bike down the slippery highway, i don't know how you made it! I'll buy you a beer at the next HU meeting!
  7. mathews42

    mathews42 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2012
    Oddometer:
    338
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    I've caught bigger browns in NM. 30" is decent for TDF. A good one is 40" 15 pounds in TDF.... 6 months of travel and spending... What's 100 bucks?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  8. diegoteck

    diegoteck Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2012
    Oddometer:
    58
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    I'm glad you guys had a good time there and I was in a small way able to contribute to the memories of your trip.
    Truly inspiring, thank you for sharing and congrats!!
    Hopefully next year I'll be sharing mine riding my proyect bike.
  9. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,173
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Don't be a hater jeff. You know that trout was huge! :lol3
  10. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,173
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Wow, thanks for the vote of confidence man. :lol3 I'll take you up on that beer!
  11. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,173
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    50 years ago?! Wow! Now that's got to be a story!

    I'm staying at a place called "BA Stop". It's 55 pesos a night for a bed, it's really nice as far as hostels go, and there are a couple of parking garages nearby. You can google it if you want for more information. I also slept at Dakar Motos the night before I took the bike to the airport.

    You can ship as much as you can fit on your pallet; however, you're technically not supposed to put personal items or camping gear on it. I put a lot of that stuff on there anyway, and no one seemed to care.

    By the way, make sure you get a ton of American $100 bills before you leave chile! I saved nearly $700 on my shipping by using the Blue Dollar.
  12. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,173
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Day 170 (April 5, 2013)
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Day's Ride: 0 Miles

    I woke up with a little bit of a headache after the Kilkenny. Unfortunately, I had a pressing appointment: the final payment and paperwork for shipping the bike home. After another filling breakfast of coffee and bread, I walked downtown to the office of the shipping company that was handling my bike. The day before, Peter, Marichio, and I had all decided to meet up at the office together and make the payments at the same time for reasons that I will explain in a second.

    We all arrived at the office at the same time and, in typical Argentinian fashion, were told that the agent wasn't ready to see us yet and that we should come back in an hour. We went down the street to a McDonalds, drank some coffee, checked the exchange rates on our phones, and discussed our gameplan for payment.

    When shipping your bike you are presented with the option of paying in cash with American Dollars or Argentinian Pesos at the official rate. If you're savvy concerning "Dolar Blue", It doesn't take a genius to realize that you can save a ton of money by paying in pesos.

    As I've mentioned before, one of the huge benefits of traveling in Argentina right now is Dolar Blue, aka, the black market currency exchange for American Dollars. The official exchange rate is around 5.13 Argentinian Pesos for every Dollar. The black market exchange is currently around 8.2-8.4 for every Dollar. The rates are usually better for larger amounts of money and larger denominations. So, if you're changing a couple thousand dollars in hundred dollar bills, you can get a pretty good deal. Of course, in order to get the black market rate, you have to haggle a little bit, go into some potentially shady areas, and deal with some somewhat shady characters. For these reasons, we all decided to team up, combine our cash, and spend some time finding the best deal possible. Furthermore, I think we all felt a little more safe having three people present instead of doing it on our own.

    We went back to the shipping office, met with the agent, and received our final price for shipping. My bill came out to 9,450 Pesos or $1,838. Doing some quick math and estimating an exchange rate of at least 8, I figured that I could save around $700 by using Dolar Blue.

    I had pulled out about $2,000 in hundred dollar bills while in Uruguay in preparation for this moment; I decided that I would change about $1,500 total into Pesos: $1,200 to pay for the shipping and $300 to pay for my final 5 days in Buenos Aires. Peter and Marichio already had a fair amount of pesos, but they still had about $600 that they wanted to change as well. Together, we had $2,100 to change and we all figured that we could get a good rate.

    Unfortunately, for some reason, everyone decided that I should be the one to carry the cash, so I had to walk around downtown Buenos Aires, a city notorious for pickpockets, with a huge wad of $100 bills in my pocket while Marichio (who's Colombian and speaks fluent Spanish) negotiated with money changers on the street. I had both of my hands in my pockets the entire time; one hand clutching my wallet, the other clutching my pocket knife. As if a pocket knife would help me stop a pick pocket...

    We finally settled on a woman named Blanca who was offering us 8.25. Apparently the rates had gone down during Semana Santa.

    Blanca lead us to a building that looked strangely familiar. After we stepped inside and she showed us the freight elevator, I realized that this was one of the same buildings that I had changed money in last week. There's nothing like stepping into a freight elevator with a couple thousand dollars in your pocket, wondering if you're about to get robbed at gunpoint by some thugs that are waiting for you on the second floor. Figuring that I didn't have much to lose other than thousands of Dollars and possibly my life, I decided to sneak some pictures with my phone. Here's Blanca and the freight elevator:

    [​IMG]

    We got off on the third floor and walked down a long hallway:

    [​IMG]

    Blanca stopped at an unmarked doorway, gave a little knock, and lead us inside.

    [​IMG]

    After we told them how much money we had to change, they told us that we would have to wait while they ran out and got more Pesos. I figured that this was the point where they would run out and get their crew of armed thugs to come back and rob us. :wink: Pocket knives aren't much protection against Pistolas...:eek1

    Fortunately, they were true to their word, and after about 10 minutes of waiting, a big Argentinian dude came in with our pesos. I guess it's bad for business to rob your customers. We stepped into the money changing booth and slapped down our hundreds.

    [​IMG]

    The man behind the glass slid us back an enormous stack of hundred Peso notes and we got to work examining each one to ensure that we weren't getting "truchas" (counterfeits), which are apparently quite common. After a lengthy examination and a few exchanges of damaged currency, we finally had our money. We thanked Blanca and headed back to the shipping office to pay our fees.

    The payment was pretty straightforward. We went up to the cashier on the 7th floor of the office building, gave him our cash, and received our Air Freight Way Bills and a shipping date. My bike was supposed to fly out the next day on a United Flight and reach Portland by Monday.

    [​IMG]

    So, here are some fast facts concerning my shipping experience:

    Actual cost of shipping by air from Buenos Aires to Portland, OR: $1,838.52

    ATM fees to remove lots of cash in Uruguay: $35
    Referral fee paid to Dakar Motos: $85
    Shipping Cost after Converting to Dolar Blue: $1,145.50
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Shipping Cost: $1,265.50

    So, in all actuality, I saved $573 on shipping. That's way, way, way cheaper than any of the other options. You would be crazy to ship from anywhere else. I could have done it even cheaper too if I would have thought ahead and used Western Union to wire myself the money in Uruguay. Then I would have only had to pay $5 to get all of that cash.

    After getting all of our papers in order, we went to a nearby Parilla to celebrate.

    [​IMG]

    I had a mixed plate with short ribs, loin, chicken breast, normal sausage, and blood sausage. Delicious!

    [​IMG]

    In any event, things are about finished for me. The bike is gone and after gorging myself on meat, I had the realization that my two wheels to freedom were now out of the picture. It's strangely depressing to realize that you can't just hop on your bike and take off whenever you feel the urge. Furthermore, without a bike you are suddenly reduced to just another backpacking tourist. Blah! I spent the rest of the afternoon feeling sorry for myself, then, pulled myself together, went out and bought some cigars, and celebrated!

    As far as this ride report is concerned; I'm not quite finished. I'm going to start working on a little summary and some observations concerning the trip, as well as a little summary of my last few days in BA. Furthermore, I've been asked by a few people to give a presentation on my trip when I return to the states; with that in mind, I would like to enlist the help of all of the people that have been or are reading my crazy ramblings. If you are reading this and are willing, I'm looking for nominations for the best pictures from each country, aside from the Salar pictures in Bolivia. Thanks in advance!
  13. chasbo

    chasbo Long timer

    Joined:
    May 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,745
    Location:
    Prescott Valley, Arizona
    Steller report! You showed ingenuity in finding the cheapest way to ship the bike back. I am not sure I would have been that smart! This is one of the best reports I have read to date Bryce, have safe travels home!
  14. alfabc

    alfabc Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Vancouver Washington
    Post when you get back the Pacific North West. I live in Vancouver WA and if you're in Portland any time, lunch or dinner is on me. Beer included. But, it will cost you some stories :D

    Cheers,

    Bill
  15. Spud Rider

    Spud Rider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,855
    Location:
    Idaho
    You are an excellent writer, and your photography is superb. :nod Thanks for taking the time to document your travels with such an excellent ride report. :D

    Spud :beer
  16. Kawidad

    Kawidad Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,110
    Location:
    Central Coast, Cal
    Agreed. :clap


    :devildog
  17. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF ┬┐to post or to ride?

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    7,284
    Location:
    Shenandoah Valley riding wonderland
    What a fantastic story! Have fun in your last couple days there. You'll be back on a bike in the PNW Springtime weather before you know it. Bring some cigars back.
  18. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,309
    Location:
    round the world
    great conclusion...excellent ride report, enjoy the last moments in the southern hemisphere :clap:clap:clap
  19. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    274
    Location:
    Near Seattle
    Yikes! I've been delinquent in my ADV duties, ha. I decided to skip an ADVrider RR this trip and do a blog instead. I considered doing both but wanted to spend more time riding and exploring than typing, strange thing.

    I don't want to hijack this excellent RR so here is my blog link; http://www.ADVdonnh.com

    One of the group who did the ride 50 years ago has a blog here: http://yaden.org/motoraidblog/

    Ok, so let me get this straight... I need to locate some shady corridor in BA and follow a giant guy I don't know with a ton of cash in my pocket to get some currency of questionable authenticity? Geesh! I thought just riding the motorcycle was adventure enough! :eek1

    We should be in BA in the next few days.....
  20. purpledrake

    purpledrake No Pretensions

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
    Oddometer:
    334
    Location:
    Seattle-ish
    Don,

    Thanks for the links to your blog and also to the 50th anniversary SA tour blog! I am really happy to see your information here.

    Our hero, Ulyses, seems to have one major difference in the execution of your ADV plan. Somehow you managed this epic journey while still keeping your job. I am not sure how you did this, and will have to read your entire story.

    Have a safe journey to Buenos Aires, and back home.

    PD