Back to Buenos Aires: 1400 kilometers, two days of rain, one doctor visit, and still no Now Voyager
Let’s start this report with the good stuff. KR and I got our passports back from Jim in Purmamarca and we immediately started riding back to Buenos Aires on the rented Iron Duke Dos. We made it back to BA in three days with no accidents or mechanical breakdowns. We have not had ONE bad night, as each town, hotel, restaurant and Wi-Fi bar has been a unique experience. We roamed the streets of Purmamarca and fell in love with this charming little town at the foot of the Andes, flooded with kids trekking and camping. We rode into both the oldest town in Argentina (Santiago Del Estero built mid-1500s) and the third largest (Rosario) without a clue or map of where to go and we found our way about pretty well. We got lost several times and figured out how to navigate with no Spanish. We are staying in the part of Buenos Aires we like the best, San Telmo – home of the Tango – in a bed and breakfast located underneath a freeway. We love this place and for $25/night, it’s the buy of the century. I’m loving Buenos Aires so much that I’ve set a goal of finding a house-exchange partner here in which we can each live in one another’s homes for a month or two each year.
And then there’s the not so good stuff. Two of our three days of riding were 10+hours long, entirely in full assault rain storms. Riding the rented Iron Duke Dos was extremely uncomfortable for both of us and we dragged ourselves in every night. My entire right thigh is black and blue from banging on the gas tank of this one-size too small m/c. Along the way we learned that our rain suits weren’t rain proof and that having the right gear is the difference between happiness and disaster. Once into Buenos Aires, I had two new pain attacks on my right hip, couldn’t walk for long periods, and have just seen my first doctor. His prognosis: I have arthritis in my right hip, take lots of pain killers, and man-up about the pain. And finally, we found out today that Now Voyager is still in its container and it will probably be a couple more days until we see what condition he’s in.
We have learned a few things, even during these first few days “on our own,”that will be useful.
- I no longer feel scared riding a m/c in Argentinian cites of any size. I can tell that I’m starting to ride like an Argentinian more and more. What does this mean? Going with the flow, not getting too upset when a (pick one) car, bus, truck, or bicycle moves into your lane, and realizing that the rear view mirror is your best friend as a warning to get out of the way from that VW going 140KPH. I’m also not particularly worried about getting lost anymore. Each city requires its own navigation strategy: I followed delivery vans in Rosario, kept following the same signs in Santiago Del Estero no matter how small the road became, and finally pulled into a (what else) bar and asked for directions.
- Adaptability is king in solving problems on the road. It might have taken me two ruined jackets and a baseball-sized hole in our bag to make me realize that I had to figure out how to tie our extra baggage onto the rented Iron Duke Dos, but it was KR’s adaptability that solved the problem. She found a couple of pieces of fiber board lying on the side of the road and we fashioned a luggage rack from them! We never lost another item due to exhaust heat:)
- Rain is serious business in this part of the world. When it rains, it rains for days. If your rain suit doesn’t work (shame on you BMW), you get soaked and stay soaked for a long time. Rain gets into everything and you better make sure all electrical bits and important papers are wrapped in plastic several times over.
- Currency is going to be more of a problem than thought. My plan was simple: when we’re out of cash, hit the local ATM machine. Except 90% of the small towns we rode through on our three day ride didn’t have an ATM. And the gas stations don’t all take credit cards. None of them take dollars. Even getting cash in BA was a challenge this morning as there were long lines at ATMs. It seems that the government doesn’t have enough pesos to meet demand. As Pablo, the man who rented us Iron Duke Dos observed, ” Last week we had cash and no gasoline. This week we have gasoline and no cash. This is Argentina!”
- Either everyone in Argentina is paranoid or there is a real prhttp://therestlesstraveler.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1542&action=edit&message=10oblem with theft. We have met so many wonderful people in this great country and almost every one of them cautions us on being careful of theft. Cameras. Motorcycles. Money. Credit cards. The newest scam is that “gypsies” spray foul smelling liquids on unsuspecting tourists and then “help” them clean it off, while in the process of picking their pockets. This happened to us, but KR had read about them and we survived without loss. I found out today that one of Rawhyde’s motorcycles were stolen yesterday in Chile. It makes a guy want to get theft insurance for his motorcycle.
Buenos Aires is a great city, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how to explain why. I know I can get overly passionate about things, so I’m trying to damper my enthusiasm for BA as a result. Even KR tells me to cool it as its the first South American city we’ve seen. But here’s my net: Buenos Aires makes every city I’ve been to — except NYC and Paris — look plain and boring. Buenos Aires has become my favorite city and I’m feeling the urge to get back here often. Buenos Aires is a city…
- Of grand scope. It’s huge in size, its boulevards are grand, its government buildings are expansive, it’s parks are plentiful and its port is impressive.
- In which interesting architecture resides in almost every section. The buildings here are just interesting with intricate detail. Your basic BA building would be a historic treasure in LA. Somehow they have melded the old with the new.
- Of parks and statues. Every dead general or saint or angel or artisan or merchant has a statue in some park, square or roundabout. There must be hundreds-perhaps thousands- all over the city.
- I in which there is a real sense of style, fashion and sophistication. People in BA have a sense of grace and style about them. And for a guy who is used to getting dinner by 6:30, I’m cool with starting dinner at 10 or 11.
- f contrasts. Palermo, San Telmo, Ricoleta, La Boca are all wonderful, but totally different neighborhoods within BA. Each has its own groove. We stayed a week in Recoleta and realized it was too nice for us. San Telmo is our favorite because its the oldest part of BA and home to Tangos and antiques.
- A bustling, commercially happening city. There’s a ton of business being done here. The newest and tallest buildings have names like Microsoft on them.
- Where almost every bar, restaurant, hotel, fast food place, has Wi-Fi and it works and its for free. Yes, their technology is a little weird, but there as “connected” as anywhere.
The situation as of 9:00AM on January 11. 2011 in Buenos Aires. We are still in limbo as we await the status of Now Voyager. Federico has stopped calling, which can only mean not-so-good news. In the meantime, we’re trying to deal with my hip and find all the supplies that we need based on our first 1400km trip. We should know about NV today — and if we get him — we’ll be out of Buenos Aires on Thursday…ish.