Argentina

5/12/14

After crossing the border we pound down the pavement to Tilcara for a night of camping. We make it just before sunset to set up the tent, grab some hotdogs, buns, mustard, potato chips, and a fifth of “Old Smuggler’s” whiskey to celebrate our last border crossing of the trip. Tilcara is a nice little town. Camp spot was mediocre but at least it had a picnic table. Even a barbeque pit but we couldn’t find wood anywhere. I have high hopes for Argentina and it is looking good thus far.

 

5/13/13

The Old Smuggler didn’t treat me all that well so I’m feeling a bit groggy this morning. We get everything picked up and put away and are on the road headed for Salta by 9:00 AM.

Last night’s stay was at 8K feet. We are finally going down and it feels so much better. Breathing is easy again and it isn’t so darn cold.

Stopped for coffee at a gas station. Great croissants and the best coffee I have had since Costa Rica. Good for you Argentina!

Followed a nice valley out of Tilcara until we reached the Routa 9 turn off to head for Salta. This is a fantastic road. Only about 8’ wide with a dotted line down the middle in weaves in and out of the mountain crevices while most of the road is draped in jungle vines and large tropical trees. This area looks more like Ecuador than what I would expect in Argentina. We also passed a number of very nice looking camping areas.

Arriving in Salta the town looks quite nice. It is large but not too much traffic to fight. The first hostel was far too expensive. The next was being tended by the brother of the owner who didn’t appear to know much at all. The price he gave us was quite low so we rolled the bikes inside and got settled. Later in the evening the sister pushed for the real price but after saying we would just leave she gave it to us at the “discounted” rate.

Absolutely starving we walked around Salta and stumbled into a McDonald’s…just had to do it. Then we found a few stores that we would like to visit but everything was closed. This is where we learned that nothing really opens in Argentina until about 6:00 PM. What a work schedule? Even the sporting goods and moto shops. Crazy!

I’ve carried a decent amount of US cash all the way from the states because I didn’t know that Ecuador was on the US dollar. Anyway, the whole point is to trade US dollars on the black market, or Blue Dollar market, in Argentina. Luckily the rate is quite high right now. Officially, one US dollar is worth 5.25 Argentinean Pesos. On the black market you can currently get 9 to 9.5 pesos for 1 dollar. So basically if you bring enough cash then everything is damn near half price. I found a guy on the corner of 9 de Julio that I traded $500 for 4,500 pesos. I just made $400USD in about 2 minutes time. Damn I’m good. Later that evening I found another guy and traded another $500 USD for 4,625 pesos. Just made over $400 in another 2 minutes. I’m on fire. Argentina is going to be cheaper than Bolivia.

A little sketchy going through hundreds of large bills on the street to check that they are legit but well worth it.

The park where the money transactions occur:

Argentine version of Mexican food:

5/14/13

Kicked off the day with a McDonald’s breakfast. Sorry at best. No sausage egg mcmuffins…only ham and cheese sandwiches.

Then grab gas. I guy at the station is selling Salami, I try a piece, yeah that’s delicious I’ll take one.

Pick up some oil for the last change of the trip:

Headed south for a bit and then shot westerly to the small town of Cachi. Got a little bit of offroad in to cross a mountain pass but a rather short ride at only 120 miles.

Rolled into town and secured a nice campsite.

Apparently Argentineans love the “idea” of camping but all the campsites are for the most part empty. Doesn’t bother us at all. They are also right on the edge of town so walking in for food and drinks is no issue at all. Here early we spend our time gather sticks and any wood that we can burn for a proper campfire.

Not before long we have a decent stash and then head into town for lunch and dinner fixens. The town is small, quaint, and nice. You can tell that a lot of the folks here are locals on vacation. They are the most welcoming and friendly people that we have come across on the trip. They all want to know where we are from and how the journey has been. I wish I spoke more Spanish. There is also a heavy Italian influence that you can here in all the restaurant conversations. On and on and on they ramble and drink their wine. Lots of folks stop on the sidewalk an snap photos standing with our bikes…pretty entertaining.

The only thing to be had for dinner is more hotdogs….and some whiskey.

With the sun setting we light the fire, warm our bellies, and make some proper weenie sticks.

Before long we are tipsy and running out of wood.

I make an attempt to break a large dead limb off of a dead tree and after dangling and jiggling the bastard I can’t make it come free. With Al’s help we both yard on the stupid thing and it snaps off in a hurry crushing me in the head. Stumble down the hill and almost into the fire I hold my head to ease the pain. Removing my hand it is absolutely bright red covered in blood and now drops are falling from the tip of my nose. “No Bueno Al, I got a problem”. I hold TP to the wound and after a bit it resides.

We go to the bathroom to rinse my hair. Chunks of my little remaining folicoles fall into the sink with pieces of dead skin. Al doesn’t think I need stitches but even if I did what the heck can I do out here camping in the tiny town of Cachi. Just hold paper to the large knot on my skull and hope for the best. Eat the hot dogs, finish the whiskey, and then walk down to the sports complex where everyone is playing games. It was fun to watch for a bit but then we had to sneak out and get to bed.

5/15/13

I awake to find that my sleeping bag is NOT soaked in blood thank goodness. We pack up and clean up and then throw the shell on my head. I bit tender to say the least. Stopped in town and grabbed some empanadas from a lady on the street. Best empanada I have ever had hands down!!

Today we run down Ruta 40, part of the Dakar rally of 2013, heading for the small wine town of Cafayate.

Ruta 40 is for the most part a gravel road the follows along a river bed with only a trickle remaining. There are stretches of vibrant green corn fields, then desolate desert, then rock formations, then vineyards, then cattle, then back to desert. Really a neat road that I thoroughly enjoyed. The outskirts of Cafayate is nothing but vineyards. Roll into town and find another campground.

No wood available but this time we just let it go.

Walk into town to find groceries and maybe some charcoal for a boring BBQ. Just happened to run into the FlyingDutchman in central park….last we saw each other was Huacachina, Peru. We bullshit and then he grabs a campsite next to ours. We pick up cheese and crackers and then head back for a proper Argentinean snack while we wait for the restaurants to open up.

We drink beer, wine, & whiskey while snacking away on the salami, cheese, and crackers. Ed knows about the dynamite and badly wants to blow something up. I think this is a bad idea right here at the campsite but we’ll see what happens tonight….liquid courage can change things.

Argentinean snacky time:

Head into town around 9:00 to a recommended restaurant and devour a choice steak and a nice Malbec.

Ed just walks in fisting his bottle of wine and goes straight to the cabinet to select the best.

Steak and wine (red or Tinto at that) is exactly what I think of when I hear “Argentina.” Cafayate has the best of both worlds and didn’t disappoint at all.

Walk back to camp, prep the dynamite, and head for a vineyard. Ed has some sort of passion to blow up the grapes that he so loves. By this time I’m game. Scale a fence, watch a dog fight, set off some dynamite about 1 block from camp, then head back to the confines of my canvas. Good fun Lalo!

Below is a little layer cake known as Awesome!

5/16/13

Well, we have made the decision to go and see Iguazu Falls….in the northeast corner of Argentina. So now it is time to haul ass across the country in little time. Crossing back over the mountain pass is a piece of cake and then we dip into a heavy layer of cloud that is absolutely freezing. With face masks fogged up I prop it open and let tears roll from my eyes as my face and hands go numb. After 30 minutes we break through the bottom side into Tafi del Valle. Stopping at the first shop for hot empanadas and midday coffee.

Entering the restaurant we receive a huge round of applause from everyone in the place. Why? I have no idea. After ordering I received some pecks on the cheek followed by a bunch of questions from some older gals and then after eating we went to exit and got a standing ovation. I don’t have a clue what is going on and probably never will. These folks are just extremely welcoming and friendly.

Finish off the last stretch of boring flatland and roll into Termas de Rio Hondo where we will stay for the night. Decent town with a lot going on prepping for some 3 day auto race that is to start tomorrow. Wish I could stick around but the road is calling.

5/17/13

Not looking forward to this day. I am fairly exhausted and we have to pound out 420 miles of flatland shit riding.

Ate some crappy half-moons (croissants) and got on the road. There is very little to say about today. Just held the poor DRZ at 6,000 RPM for a solid 8 hours. I felt bad for her so I changed her oil.

Unending straightness that went on forever. Just low lands, marshes, nothing….very much like the highways in southern Louisiana.

The day finally ended in Resistencia. We found a campsite in a town park (2 de Febrero something or other). DO NOT STAY HERE.

Went to the local supermarket to pick up the usual (hotdogs, buns, mustard, whiskey, beer, and some charcoal to forgo the whole “wood” thing). Ate, drank, went to sleep.

Right before bed some loud music started. Right across the pond in the park there is a dance floor, DJ, large speakers, and nobody around but the DJ. The party didn’t start until midnight…..the last song played at 3:30 AM. The first wakeup call was at 2:00 AM. The park security told us to put our saddle bags inside. We don’t have room for them…only valuables, riding gear, paperwork, and helmets. At 4:00 AM they awoke us again to tell us that someone was trying to get into Al’s bags. As it is raining outside now we hide the gear. Slept until 8:00.

5/18/13

The only thing that went missing was Al’s winter riding gloves. Now he is wearing offroad mitts with a pair of my latex gloves on the outside. Everything is a muddy wet mess and all we can do is stuff it into plastic garbage bags and get on the road for a “short” 240 mile day. FML!!

Groggy, no coffee, not happy, pounding miles of flatland to no end. Land in Posadas and find a decent hostel. I’m getting quite sick of the lonely planet locations and prices. They are usually half of the actual price (prices are posted on wall, not just a gringo thing). Internet duty, a glass of whiskey, and a movie. Tomorrow only 215 miles to the Mega Falls.

Note the crashed car on the median.

 

5/20/13

Drove the short 10 miles to Iguazu National Park to see the waterfalls.

Weather Conditions: Cloudy (no sun), Humid, about 65 degrees.

Water Conditions: The volume of water flowing from the falls was approximately twice that of usual. This is what one of the guides told me. Because of this a few things happened; water was muddy brown, and it created so much mist that it was difficult to actually see all of the falls.

Here is my impression: On one hand it was cool that we got to see this mega falls with double the amount of usual water flowing but it really took away the beauty that you see in typical photos. The raw power and visceral strength of the falls was mind blowing…..but the picturesque qualities were simply not there. Don’t get me wrong, this was definitely the coolest waterfall I have ever been to but I do have some regrets. I think that I should have traveled down the Andean range in Argentina just camping, drinking wine, eating steak, and hanging out in the dry dusty weather (humidity and low lying marshland is not for me). Flying across the country just to see this was really not worth it in my opinion. But then again, I’m not a crazy waterfall nut either.

Also, I would like to note that the people do not seem nearly as friendly over on this side of the country. I hope that Buenos Aires is good and has a similar atmosphere to that of the Salta region.

 

5/21/13

Out of Iguazu we rolled through heavy cloud cover and pounded our way over to the east side of Argentina on the Uruguay river.

Really nothing notable here except for all the timber industries up here. You can’t find firewood in the campsites but you spend a good portion of your day dodging trucks full of trees and passing by sawmills.

Chased some Emu’s along the way:

Made it to Santo Tome, traversed some mud and wound up on the river bank for some free camping.

Really wanted to hit Brazil with a rock but with the breadth of this river that sure as hell isn’t going to happen. Picked up a couple milanesas in town and cooked them up after starting a fire with dead brush and driftwood.

5/22/13

Woke up and saw that after Alex tried and tried to start a giant fire in/on-top-of the grill; it didn’t go…..even after adding gas……and cross threading my fuel pump onto my bottle….and to drunk to get it back into the bottle holster. Oh Alex….

We hit the road with no breakfast and then stopped 40 miles down the road at a gas station. Coffee, empanadas, and medialunas. Argentina has the whole empanada thing figured out. Due to the delicious factor of these bad boys we made it a point to stop every 60 miles and try another at each gas station we saw. Good stuff.

The plan was to camp in Curuzu Cuatia…..185 miles down the road. Rolled through town, checked out some of the camping and was not impressed in the least. We did however see this crazy thing that appears to be the product of a Super Hamster F*cking a Mega Nutria…..or maybe it is just a Capybara…..the world’s largest rodent.

Continued an additional 100 miles to La Paz on the Parana river.

There are police checkpoints everywhere in Argentina. Thus far everyone has waved us through almost like they don’t ever stop motorcycles. On this route we were stopped twice. Both of us pretended not to speak any Spanish at all….no fumar Espanol thank you Throttlemeister. Anyway, they kept asking for documents, insurance, and one even asked for a tip. The most I would produce was my fake driver’s license and then continued with the no Spanish bullshit. Soon enough they got tired and just let us go. Sweet!

It was cloud and overcast all day so when the sun broke in a far-off distant corner of my world I had to snap a photo. Cotton plants in the foreground.

Tonight we opted for a hotel because there is a lot of camping in front of us. Nothing special here but we hope to get some fishing done in the next few days. We are now close to Buenos Aires and the trip is slowing down. Starting to feel a little nervous about having to go home and jump back on that hamster wheel.

5/23/13

Al caught up with the internet and I went for a bit of a stroll around town. Found some fishing poles at a camping store for a couple bucks a piece and noted the location of a few supermarkets for future use.

Next Adventure ride?

Loaded up we checked out the Municipal camping (which is located in a central park with a fence around it in town) which was not looking too good so we headed just to the outskirts to El Eucaliptal. This is a campground/cabana/fishing tour “resort”. Or so I read on their website but I wouldn’t pay to do a fishing trip here. This is a Eucalyptus forest right on the river bank so a little heavy on the bugs (beetles & mosquitoes) but it suited us nicely for some fishing and drinking.

We were the only campers there so after we setup or stuff we grabbed a pack of hot dogs, some beers, and headed for the river bank. Only took Al about 10 mintues to land this thing….no idea what it is or if it was edible so we released it. Figured that after that quick snatch we’d be catching them left and right and would wait for the monster to cook. Needless to say that a few hours later we had caught nothing more.

Looking questionable at best

We were finally sitting at a campsite before noon with everything set up, a fire going, and nothing to do. For some reason I was really really wanting this on the trip. I love sitting in a lawn chair around a fire up in Oregon but I must admit that that only happens when there is a break from work. Now I felt absolute boredom and really wanted to get back on the road. So now I’m a bit concerned because we are only 2 days ride from Buenos Aires and have about 7 days to kill.

To kill boredom we went to town for steaks and whiskey….surely this will solve the problem. Sure enough things livened up with Al dancing to country music singing in a terrible voice while I built him a cupcake that he can light himself after dinner.

Making new friends in Argentina

Decent sunset:

Built a nice hot pile of coals and fired the steaks. They were not as good as I was hoping but the canned pears were not too shabby at all.

Stick & Leatherman; proper silverware

 

With the excitement coming to an end we decided to test a blasting cap and fuse under water. We had to make sure these things worked before we went and lost our dynamite to the river bottom. Sure enough it worked just fine. An hour later we decided that just 1/3rd stick should be lit off just to test things a little more. It worked, stunned/killed two fish, they were small and it was dark but now we know we have a product worthy of the water.

We only have 2 sticks left and some AN so we figure we better do it all at once in an attempt to get some big guys. I’ve done a LOT of fishing with explosives and it works fantastic….problem is you have to know where the fish are before you just chuck something in there. This could be a problem so I hope I don’t let you down if nothing floats to the top.

5/24/13

HOOOOORRRRAYYYYY!!! We are getting back on the road again today. Not feeling my best this morning we lounged around until noon before getting on the road for our short 100 mile ride to the town of Parana.

Boring straight roads but I can see that we are departing the back country marshes and entering the rural farmlands with lots of combines and tractors at work. I love watching farming in action. Takes me back to my roots I guess.

Parana is a lovely city. Large riverfront with lots of spandex jogging, jiggling, and bouncing down the boardwalk. Seriously though, a very nice town. Wifi in all the central parks so you can just stop on the side of the road, bust out your smartphone, and locate some hostels. Every single hostel in town was booked full except for one that was 400 pesos (about $90 USD). The hotels were even more expensive.

Cool old building down by the docks:

Strange bridge heading into Santa Fe full of turnbuckles and cables:

After a few hours we gave it up and headed through the subfluvial tunnel under the Parana River and over to Santa Fe. This town is a little less “high end” but there aren’t any hostels anywhere. The internet says there are, but showing up at the addresses proved otherwise. We even looked for camping and a few people pointed us in different direction in a pursuit that ended fruitless.

Look, No Hands!!

Finally we had to stop and eat dinner and just relax a bit after checking 10 hotels. Had a burger and a nice dark beer that was just called “Cerveza Negro”. It was light like coors light but dark black and packed full of flavor. Never had anything like it, rather impressed. Good work Argentina. The waiter was so enamored with our trip and our bikes that before we got out of the door he gave us a free bottle of red wine. Nice dude.

Another 10 hotels later and we finally decided to take the one that smelled like cat piss, didn’t have a bathroom, and was located in a very eerie building. They had garage but it was full of cars. The guy said if the motos won’t fit between the car and truck there so you can push them to the back then you can’t stay here because they are leaving really early. Well, the gap was about 18” and I don’t have a Chinese scooter so that wasn’t happening. Thus we ended up paying about $70 for a room in a decent hotel….Damn!!

5/25//13

Back on the road! Headed to Rosario. New Socks & Undies today!!!!!!! You know you are on an adventure when there is this much excitement about a fresh pair of nut huggers.

What I believe to be the last fill up of the trip

Chased down a train and smashed some more coins:

Got lost in some corn fields:

Short drive to Rosario and we check the first camping spot. This is where I realized that “camping” means something completely different in Argentina. It is equivalent to “picnicking” in the states. Lots of camping spots close in the evening and you can’t actually pitch a tent and spend the night. So we continue on into the city and check out some hostels. First, everything is booked for this evening and on top of that it is all quite expensive.

Back to the city fringes where we finally find a campspot that neither of us are pleased with and they still want $20 USD to let us stay. Screw this, it is already dark and we hop back on the freeway. Grab a little fuel and talking to the ladies inside they want us to camp for free right here at the gas station. It looks decent enough but they are open 24 hours and we figure drinking and screwing around might get us into some problems in the middle of town. It is also in a somewhat shady area so the call to push on grips us and off we fly….to a McDonald’s for the wifi…..and a bigmac.

Pounding down the highway with a headlight that doesn’t eluminate more than 10’ in front of me. Object, don’t hit anything large or round. So for 30 miles I stare straight just off the end of my front fender and eventually we safely pull into San Nicolas. Famous for all the Virgen Mary apparitions that have been sighted. No luck with camping so we settle for an overpriced hotel. This is really hurting the budget so tonight’s goal will be to find a decent place to post up before we have to enter B.A.

At this rate I could be in TDF and back just in time for my flight.

5/26/13 -5/29/13

I am going to combine our little camping adventure into a single entry for my own ease. We got up and rode a short 60 miles, not without stopping at one of the many roadside Salami and Cheese shops, to a campsite that I located on the internet the previous evening.

Hot steel slabs:

Fruit Stand:

Salami & Cheese:

I just stumbled across Las Tarejas through some website. Said they have an old cruise ship from 1963 that was banked and you could rent rooms. They also have old train cars littered throughout the property that have been converted to cabins. We had no intention on renting one of these because a) we are now poor and b) we have a tent. But the whole place sounded cool nonetheless.

We hit Zarate, locate a supermarket, then cross the big bridge just to the other bank. Finally, a bridge that doesn’t charge motos, things are looking up.

Locate the office back towards the river’s edge a short ways from the bridge and start haggling. They want $15 each per night which is steep but still half the cost of a hotel room. We settle for $20/night total for 3 nights (ended up staying the 4th for free).

One thing nice about the states is that you get a “zone”, known as a campsite, for which you are semi-secluded from others and it typical includes one picnic table and a firepit. Here, there are just picnic tables strewn about throughout the woods and river’s edge for you to choose from freely most lacking a firepit and only a few with a street lamp and the occasional outlet. So we choose one based on the large round table and good seating. Luckily it is not busy at all so other folks are not an issue. Pitch the tent and lock our valuables inside then head for the grocery store back on the other side of the bridge.

Gotta lock your jacket inside a bag so that you can’t stuff it with extremely valuable grocery store stuff…..like bags of milk and such.

Milanesa, beer, sausage, eggs, milk, cheese, bread, whiskey, mixers, hotdogs, ice, more beer, water, canned pears, oranges, spaghetti noodles & sauce, cereal, mandarins, more whiskey, ham, lettuce, tomato, tortillas, butter, mustard, golf sauce…..would should be able to combine this into something great.

Took a proper snack break.

The first night was by far the best and most humorous. We didn’t do anything but collect some firewood, sit down, wash down a fifth with some beers, and bullshit about the hectic times through Central America and cook up some Milanesas.

Nice sunset:

Milanesa cooking:

One of the train cars converted to a cabin:

Something I forgot to mention, there were a bunch of day riders here at the campground because they have some sort of a “circuit” to run quads and dirt bikes around (double track with a bunch of mud holes for the most part). So now that we are both stumbling and laughing Alex says he’s either going to bed or going for a ride. Well shit yes, saddle up son we can go do a little exploring.

About 46 yards into the ride Al’s bike slips out from under him and he just splashes down into a mud puddle helmet and all. I am laughing my ass off right behind him barely reaching the slippery mud on either side with my tiptoes. He hit the deck pretty hard and was a bit dazed but soon enough was laughing with me. He saddles back up and probably makes it 23 more yards or so and BAM….he’s down again. “Stop playing in the mud dude let’s rip this circuit up” (as I’m borderline unable to just stand there with my bike upright). I am going to go ahead and guess he makes it about 57 yards before repeating the same thing and at this point I’m crying in my helmet. One particular one on the way back there was a creek on both sides of us and the edges were pretty steep. Somehow Al got pointed towards one creek at a pretty good rate of speed and was forced to just whip the bike back to the center of the trail and flop on the ground again. Ok, now it is just time to get the bikes and our bodies back to the campsite in one piece. If only I would have had the gopro on……

Next day we recovered, cleaned some gear, and sat at the river’s edge all day long. Small fish would nibble and take our bait but nothing was hitting the lines hard. Lots of people around us fishing the banks as well and not catching diddly.

The peacocks, geese, grouse, and chickens create quite a racket in the morning:

Back to rounding up firewood we get one going and up rolls some German dude in the woods on a bicycle with flashing LED lights. Overlander. Sweet! We chat it up for a bit and he ends of camping next to us for the next 3 nights. Gerd is a Mechanical Engineer as well and we have actually worked with some of the same companies. He just quit his job and flew into BA with a bicycle and has one year to get to Mexico City. We see these overland bicycle folks all over the place and I gotta say they are freaking nuts…..lots of respect to these adventurer’s. Being an engineer he of course enjoyed blowing things up as a child and was ecstatic about us having Dynamite. I believe this is the only real reason that he stayed additional days.

Next morning the skies looked ominous and the thunder could be heard in the distance. I was already in the middle of cooking some egg/ham/cheese sandwiches for breakfast. Luckily we had enough time to pick up our gear and stash it in the dry bags but the sky opened up right as I was dropping the hot ham with melted cheese into my tortilla. With lighting flashing all over the place I snatch up the scrambled eggs in my fist and with burrito in the other hand I sprint the 100 meters to the nearest awning. Too late, already soaked. If only the cheese had shown the glistening shimmer of liquid oil signifying a delicious melted buttery taste 20 seconds earlier I would have been in the clear. But at least I had a nice breakfast.

Under the awning we sat for a good hour or so. The rain would slow and then come on with a fiery. During one of the lulls I rushed back and hopped into the tent for some shut eye. A few hours later Al was yelling from the outside that I was sitting in a puddle. The whole tent was submerged in about 2 inches of water. Completely dry on the inside though…..REI makes nice products.

My tennies floating right outside the tent:

Drag the tent out of the way onto high ground and then sit and stare at each other. You know how it is when it rains in your campground. Things just aren’t fun anymore. Gerd finally came out of his tent around 4:00 in the afternoon to join us for some dinner and drinks.

Gathering firewood:

Drying our belongings:

On the 4th day we awoke to clear skies and sunshine which was much needed to dry the remaining gear. Al went into town to find some internet to try and look up some hotels and hostels in B.A., buy more whiskey, and some ground beef. He stops and gets his bike washed and by the time they are done with it it won’t start. After a buddy is called the bike is towed to a moto shop where they remove the liquid from on top of the spark plug and it starts back up. He rolls into camp about 5 hours later with whiskey, beef, soda, and a clean bike. No research but that is okay because all the gas stations and Mcdonald’s have free wifi so it dosen’t take much to run into it.

While he was in town I made a device…..with 3 caps to ensure a good time under water. This was the highlight of the day. Nice boom for being underwater but unfortunately this was not a heavily populated fish area. Only one whopper.

That evening we sat around the fire doing the usual and eating some good spaghetti. Ready for B.A. in the morning.

5/30/13

After drinking, sweating, and not showering for 4 days at some point you just want to get the heck out of dodge. So we hit the road and sailed through our final miles of the trip. Hit a McDonald’s for some wifi and found a hostel recommended on Horizon’s Unlimited in BA with motorcycle parking.

We have an appointment with Dakar motors tomorrow morning so we figured we would swing by and see if they happen to be in. Plugged in the GPS coordinates that you can get from their site and found the place with no trouble. Sure enough Sandra and Javier were busy at work. We immediately went through the details of the shipping process and Sandra dosen’t miss a beat. This has to be the most organized process I have seen on the entire trip. If it works exactly as planned I will be very impressed.

So I’m shipping my bike to Los Angeles and Alex is shipping his to San Francisco because he needs to get home soon for work. I want to enjoy that coast line one more time.

We will both bring our bikes to the airport on Monday where they will be palletized and loaded into a warehouse. They are supposed to fly out on Wednesday and I will be flying out on Saturday and land on Sunday. Hopefully my bike will be ready for pickup on Monday or Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Anyway, back on the road we blast through Buenos Aires. On one hand I am disappointed it is ending but really I’m smiling ear to ear that I actually made it to BA on my dirt bike. I only wish I was shipping to Africa or some other completely strange country for another adventure.

Here is my celebration through an intersection:

 

We find the Kilca hostel. Kind of a shitty place but it is cheap and they have bike parking so we go for it. Dorm rooms….blah! There is even a nice German gentleman traveling with his 7 year old son who is staying in the dorm and has a beadtime of 8:00PM so that he can rest up and then scream and run around with his legos in the communal rooms. WTF! You should not bring your child to a hostel. These are places known for young 20 something year olds and with that comes drugs, alcohol, late nights, sex, etc…. I repeat, not for your children guys.

Then run down to Florida street to exchange some money. I made a mistake not changing all my cash when in Salta. I thought the rate might go up and I gambled by holding onto another $500 in cash for 2 weeks. The bad news, the blue dollar fell down to 8.4. The good news, it climbed to 8.7 before I arrived in B.A. I’ve been watching it at www.dolarblue.net. Anyway, I feel pretty good about still getting 8.7. And the quotes we were given by Dakar Motos is less than I had planned (by about $200) so at least I know I’ll make it back to US soil.

Anyway, we are spent, splurge on some Jameson whiskey, eat cheap empanadas, and go to bed early.

5/31/13

Today I had to hike all over town to find a decent breakfast. Ended up just getting a toasted sandwhich with ham, cheese, and egg. Breakfast in Argentina is coffee and croissants. That is it. You can’t find eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, waffles, pancakes, French toast, etc…. If I could find them by themselves I’d go to seven restaurants with a plate and end up with a decent meal but you can’t find even a single one of these items. I’m sure there are specialty places that will make one of these for your first born child but I think breakfast is BS down here. I love food and breakfast is at the top of the list for me. Come on guys!

Next we headed to a new district, Parque Derrago, to look for a hostel around some sort of night life. They either don’t have parking or are completely booked up. Why do we always find ourselves in big cities on the weekends and everybody is full? After a few hours of this we resort to reserving a small dorm room for ourselves at our current hostel for a very reasonable price and move our gear.

Then website updating.

After internet duties we find a place on the internet that has rave reviews for their Mexican food. Yeah, I know I’m in Argentina but I still miss the Mexican food. Cab it up to Palermo district where we find ourselves at La Fabrica Del Taco. This stuff is no joke….only second to fish tacos in Baja but these things are incredible. Then we walk around stopping for drinks and checking out hostels. Came across 2 more Mexican restaurants….that’s it, we are moving up here tomorrow. Hopefully there is some ceviche too.

Look at that fried cheese leaking it’s buttery goodness all over the plate :)

6/1/13

Load the bikes and head for Palermo, capital of Mexican food in Buenos Aires. Found one of the only joints that would let us push our bikes in (Borges Hostel)….quite a bit more expensive but a much better location. And off for chorizo tacos and deep fried cheese for lunch!! Now I can’t wait for dinner.

So for dinner we headed off to another Mexican food joint and both got Nachos. I had carne and Al got chorizo….mine were better. We even got free shots of Margaritas and then Al really stoked the fire buying a pair of Patron shots.

I restaurant named “Tijuana”…..what could go wrong?

From there things got a little fuzzy but I do know we tried really hard to find some Karaoke with no luck at all. One bar had it but it didn’t start until 2:00 AM and it was only about 8:00 at this point and time. Not gonna happen.

I didn’t do any reading:

Shots of Jameson:

6/2/13

Today my awesome parents arrive from Oregon. My father is going hunting about 200 miles south of here and my mother is just hanging out with me in the city. They are great people and supported me so much on this trip I’m really looking forward to seeing them.

Unfortunately I woke up feeling awful. I met my mother for lunch at our taco place; the chorizo did not sit well with me so I just lied in the room and watched the tube for a bit. Later we headed for Plaza Dorrago for the antique/craft fair thing. Lots of stuff; about 12 blocks worth. Hit Florida street so I could turn some of my folks’ cash into even more cash.

The Mate cups. Not much I can say about this because I don’t really understand the trend of drinking earthy herbal tea from a fancy cup with metal on it and a chrome straw with a large filter and carry around a thermos with you at all times. Just don’t get it.

Crepes in the street:

Walked up to the pink house for some night shots.

Then back around Palermo we hit a nice little place for some seafood pasta and good Red.

Homemade bread and cheese spread:

And seafood spaghetti with an enormous prawn laid atop:

6/3/13

Up early I had to get my bike to a car wash to clean the mud off. Not sure if it was necessary but I figured the US customs would give me hell for having third world mud on a dirt bike. After paying an exorbitant price and rushing the man at work I had something worthy for shipping.

Absolutely ripped up the streets trying to get to the airport on time. It was very fun last day of splitting lanes and hauling ass in the wrong lane to get by all the big rigs. I will really miss this part…..or end up with a few large tickets in the first couple weeks back home.

Made it to the airport without and hitch and finding the cargo area is a piece of cake. Then just waited in a certain area for a man named Franco to come meet us. Sure enough about 30 minutes later he strolled out and gave us some paperwork that got us through another security checkpoint.

From there you pull into the export warehouse and two finely constructed pallets were waiting for us.

Rolled the bikes up, popped off the front wheel, scooted the forks up until they hit the handlebars, disconnected the battery, let the guys there siphon all the fuel from the bikes, and then tossed on any gear that you wanted to ship with the bike. Didn’t bother with handlebars because the pallet was just as wide as them. You are not supposed to ship camping gear or personal belongings on the pallet (just riding gear and tools are allowed). I would like to have put my pots, stove, first aid kit, tire pump, etc… on the bike but if that gives them reason to remove the saran wrap and “inspect” things I am afraid something expensive may go missing. I put my abused boots, pants, and tools on the pallet but I’m not risking my awesome jacket.

With those things wrapped up and taken care of we slapped an SOF sticker on Al’s bike and an LAX sticker on my bike and headed for the bus. Waiting for the bus I felt like one of those stupid hippie dope smoking backpackers and really didn’t feel real “freedom” like you do on the bike. Get me to California!

Back in Palermo I headed for lunch with mom. Ceviche and some fried Mixta at a Peruvian Restaurant. Really fantastic food and very refreshing. Can’t wait for more tonight.

Feeling like some good Indian Curry we went to “Mumbai” for dinner. Absolutely fantastic curry dishes. All this stuff looks like baby food and makes you nervous about how it might come out but truly fantastic dishes.

6/4/13

Started out with a typical breakfast of cereal, ham, cheese, croissant, coffee, and juice. Then took a cab to downtown and found the travel agency’s headquarters. Saw a burned out car on the sidewalk. Constant little mini protests about the economy happen all the time here.

 

Here we met a contact that Dakar had given us and he handed us the bill and the bank account number where we need to make the deposit.

So back downstairs right next door is the bank that you walk into, hand them the account number and a pile of cash, they hand you a receipt and you go back to the travel agency where they give you the airway bill.

Then wait for the bike to get on the next available plane at which point Dakar will be sending the Tracking numbers.

So, total cost to ship a DRZ to either LAX or SOF is as follows:

  1. Dakar Motors requires either $100 USD or 800 pesos (obviously they are aware of the Blue Dolar)
  2. Shipping cost is based on volume and our bikes came out to be $1,401 USD/each
  3. The official exchange rate at the current time is 5.29 to 1. Thus the above $1,401 is equal to 7,411 pesos.
  4. Now add in the 800 pesos that I have already paid Dakar and you get 8,211.
  5. I exchanged half of my money at 9.25 and the other half at a rate of 8.7. So dividing by my average exchange rate on the blue dolar system you come up with a grand total of $915.

I dare you to try and find a cheaper option home. Friggin AWESOME!!!

Then met back up with my mother for a walk. Grabbed a little trim along the way.

Hit the botanical gardens, tried for the zoo but after spying through the fence at a few animals we decided it wasn’t worth the time.

Cool seafood shop that had everything you could imagine prepped for cooking.

Stopped at  bakery for some churros. This was by no means a fancy bakery….these things are everywhere.

Walked through some big government buildings and then had lunch. Just a backstrap sandwich with bacon and veggies.

The waitress had one hell of a nice back end…..my mother was unimpressed with me snapping photos :)

Very cool walking bridge:

Strolled through the Recoleta Cemetery. This is a very impressive cemetery. Far and away the most impressive “headstones” I have ever seen. Some tower above you at 20+ feet made from solid granite or marbel. I can’t imagine what it costs to get your dead corpse into this place. Well worth a visit if you come down this way.

There is a bit good of vandalism in the cemetary….broken stained glass and garbage strewn about inside some of the “rooms”. Really too bad.

A little more walking and then picked up some wine, cheese, and crackers.

Yesterday reservations were made at what is supposed to be one of the best steak/wine houses in Buenos Aires. We arrive at 8:30 and the place is cool with model airplanes and such swinging from the ceiling. Not real hoity toity which is what I was expecting. Also, the steak knife at the table probably weighs close to a pound, I could have fought in a battle with this thing.

The bread was great with various sauces, the salad was fantastic, all the steaks looked perfect coming from the kitchen, out steaks were disappointing. What a bummer. They were just heavily overcooked. I went with Medium because of the veins that were hanging out of my medium-rare steak in Cafayate. It was well done with no pink whatsoever. Oh well, the wine was fantastic.

Bife de Chorizo con Roquefort:

 

9 thoughts on “Argentina

  1. Glad you’re ok- looked like a lot of blood. Do you still have the suture kit Laura got you for xmas? Steri-strips would have been handy!

  2. Go to know I don’t need to see Iguaza falls. I had hoped I could but I agree the muddy water takes away from the beauty of the falls. Looks like Alex found a Barber – missed the pic of him shaking his hand. Drive safely. See you in a few weeks XOXO

  3. Badass!!! Awesome trip and way to stay up with the website along the way. I look foward to seeing what you crazy gringos are doing every week. Keep up the good work boys. Who’s got more battle scars, you or the bikes?

    • Howdy Bransen!!

      Didn’t even know you were checking this out. Thanks for the compliments buddy. Hope Bend is treating you well; find me a job would ya? I think the bike is in worse shape than myself after getting hit by that car in Panama. See you soon dude!

  4. have just got caught up with you adventure from Machu Picchu to Iguazu…. have to say that your reports from the road offer it all… blood, babes, booze, blowups…lots of laughs… and everything in between! Your sharing all of this has been amazing… and it has been great fun to “be along” for ‘da ride.
    Your photos are terrific.. and rather amazing that you could capture so much while in the fast lane. You both look very ALIVE!
    keep’em coming!

  5. Talked to a young woman just back from Buenos Aries; Cary. She gave me the name of a hostel in a decent side of town: Recoleta del Sol. I asked her where to go, She said: Botanical Gardens, Japenese gardens, Recoleta Cemetary, Enta Museum. I told her that you two were more interested in chasing good times and girls… Cary then said “that that is where all the hot girls go”! … But, also offered a couple of bars in the Palermo neighborhood: El Alamo and Magdalenals Party!

  6. I am really going to miss your adventure. It has been great everyday to know what you are seeing. Hou haven’t been on for awhile.

  7. DONE! What a trip, Andrew. No pics of the Captain? I’ve come to the conclusion that you have a distinct resemblance to Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” when you are pounding down whiskey! Looking forward to hearing a few tales in person around the Wine Wednesday campfire.

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