Today was the day – we were going to make a final push to get to Buenos Aires and Dakar Motos before the day was out, there to find out the fate of our bikes and wait for our plane to fly home on Saturday. We woke up at the same time as always, and made a concerted effort to get out of the hotel early-ish – we were ready to go by 9:00AM, but when we went to load up the bikes, we discovered it was warmer. Much warmer. So much warmer that it was time to shed layers.
Back into the hotel to get rid of the rain liners, and back out to the bikes to pack the stuff away. We also shed the electrics and even switched gloves. Toasty! Alas, after all of the shedding and packing away of extra layers, it was 9:40AM by the time we left Tres Arroyes and hit the road for BA. It was supposed to be a little over 300 miles, but the end bit would be navigating a massive city without a detailed city map, so we knew it would take more time. It always takes more time.
Kay’s note: at one point before leaving the room I turned to the mirror and exclaimed, “Jesus Christ! It’s HUGE!” because my Honduran haircut has grown to epic proportions. For a while I looked like David Hasselhoff during his days on Knight Rider, but now it’s just getting scary high. I don’t know what to do about it. I want it to grow out more, but I’m going to have to go to interviews when I get home… Ugh. Interviews.
Rode 200km to Azul where we stopped for gas, and decided we should eat some ready-made sandwiches to go because it would be faster. Of course, we still managed to take an hour for lunch. Kay ended up chatting with a guy, and was trying to find Dakar Motos on our GPS so at least we’d have a dot to orient ourselves even if the map had no detail, but was unsuccessful. Still, all of this takes time and our “short” lunch wasn’t short.
On the bright side, though, we found something that Kay has been craving for probably a week now… Snickers! For some reason, it’s these small cravings that really make a difference, and Kay was thrilled to be eating these half-bar Snickers. One for the road, and back to making tracks for BA.
The next stretch was filled with trucks. We’ve ran into a fair number of semis on Routa 3, but it seems like the closer you get to BA, the more they multiply. Literally every 60-90 seconds we were ending up behind another semi, and having to wait for the oncoming traffic to be clear enough to pass it. It slowed us down and meant we didn’t have any really long stretches where we could just ride. Also, oncoming traffic from the opposite direction was even crazier than usual, as they were passing trucks from their side – which meant far too many near-misses as they hogged our lane entirely too close for comfort.
Another stop, and this time we put the gas from our spare gas tanks into our bikes. We had enough to get into BA and give us slightly less than half a tank to navigate the city, etc. This way we wouldn’t have to deal with our spare gas, and we could just trash the tanks at the end. A quick bathroom break, and Kay loaded a different GPS map onto the GPS at this stop to try to see the Dakar Motos dot. This one worked, but the map we’re using only has a handful of roads in BA, so the routing on the GPS was worthless. We were going with Google Maps directions. After this, we wouldn’t be stopping until Dakar Motos.
We ride, and ride, and ride. Routa 3 into BA is actually quite unflattering. It goes through the barrios outside of town – the poor, run-down areas where there is grass and weeds overgrown everywhere, and a ton of intersections without functional stop lights where traffic is just coming from the sides and you can never quite be sure if they’re going to stop. Further into town, and traffic is heavy with lots of stop lights – and we hit where we think the intersection should be, but we haven’t seen any road signs to indicate it – just a big intersection that’s called something else.
We ride a bit further without turning, but then decide we’ve probably missed the turn – it was probably that big roundabout we passed before. So we make a complicated U-turn, and start heading back the other way. While we’re stopped at one of the endless stoplights, another moto stops beside Kay and starts chatting. Kay asks if we’re heading toward the main road we want, and the guy says no – it’s in the other direction. He tries to give us directions, but the light turns green and we have to drive off. But now we know we have to turn around again.
We look for a way to turn around, and see the guy on the teeny moto has pulled off to the side. Great! We pull off, too, and he tries to give us more detailed directions. His Spanish is too much for us, so he draws us a map – four kilometers back in the direction we were headed, and we’ll run into the major road we’re seeking. And something about having to turn right to take the left we want.
We thank him profusely and start looking for a place to U-turn again. Then I notice something that appears to be a thin metal rod hanging down from Kay’s bike, near the rear brake and chain. I tell him to pull over ASAP to figure out what’s wrong with his bike, and we pull into some parking spots on a very raggedy incline, but it turns out it’s just the Loobman tube that has pulled loose. Kay ties it in a knot and we decide to U-turn at a left turn just across the way, so after some minor drama involving me having to come down the curb right next to a bus (I insisted there wasn’t enough room, and Kay told me to go anyway) we made the U-turn and got headed in the right direction again.
We find a road that might be the correct road, but there’s no road sign. Just the names of destinations on the road. Right is some neighborhood, and left is some other neighborhood. Both are meaningless to us. Luckily, there’s a gas station right there, so Kay asks if this is the road we need – it is – and we U-turn in the gas station to find an easy way to get on the road. We make it into the major road, finally, and are hopefully headed in the right direction. Yay!
We ride. And ride. And ride some more. Google Maps’ directions told us to take an exit in 1km after getting on this road, but we go at least 3 or 4 miles and haven’t seen the exit it wanted us to take. I ask Kay what we should do, and he says that the dot for Dakar Motos is still ahead and to the left, so we should just keep going this way. So we do, until we pass the dot and Kay decides we should get off and start trying to find it.
What follows is random navigation trying to find one-way streets that are pointed in the direction of the dot. By chance, we decide to take a left on a one-way that just happens to be the correct road we were supposed to take – not where Google Maps told us to take it. So we follow it, and I spot the next road we were supposed to take just as we’re passing it. Coming from the right, the street sign is different than the one on the left.
So we circle back around, take the right road, start guessing where to turn because none of the roads are signed, and are just riding along when an old guy waves at us and points at a set of gray garage doors we’ve just passed. I tell Kay and we circle around again, get stopped at the garage doors this time, and Javier comes out to greet us. Yay! We’ve made it to Dakar Motos! There’s no sign or anything, and we never would have spotted it if the guy hadn’t pointed to it for us (I think he’s a neighbor) so I’m glad he happened to be nearby.
Kay’s note: there is a hand-painted number on the door, so if you’ve got the address you’ll be able to find it, but yeah, there’s NO external indication that it’s there.
We get off and park the bikes, and Javier has room for us to stay at Dakar Motos. Yay! But he barely has room for the bikes – he has to take the panniers off another bike that is here just to fit ours into the space. One look around makes it clear pretty quickly that there probably isn’t room to store our bikes here.
We ask, and Javier confirms – we can’t store the bikes here. And he doesn’t have anyone else to recommend. He says there’s one guy in town who might be able to store them, but he travels a lot and Javier isn’t sure if he’s in town right now. He says we should go to Uruguay to store the bikes, as he can recommend some people there, but we just don’t want to have to deal with the logistical hassles of getting our bikes to Uruguay and then getting us back here for our flight.
Javier has more bad news, though – it’s not possible to ship bikes out of Buenos Aires without us here. So if we store the bikes here, we’re going to have to fly back down to BA whenever we’re ready to ship them home just do to the shipping paperwork. We can’t leave an authorization with anyone or arrange an agent to ship them out on our behalf. So now we’re going to have to pay not only something along the lines of $3,500 to ship the bikes home – we’re going to have to pay another $3,500 for round trip plane tickets for BOTH of us to come back here to ship the bikes. Suddenly getting the bikes home has gone to $7,000.
Javier seems to think we’re crazy for wanting to store the bikes. He suggests (politely) that we should find a way to make it happen that we get the bikes shipped out while we’re here. But we can’t borrow that much money from anyone, and we simply don’t have the cash. The stocks tanking on us really cost us (we lost a little over $5,000 in the stocks dropping from when we left the US at the beginning of our trip – which would have been enough to ship the bikes home and pay the first month of rent when we get back, while Kay finds a job and I get back up to full speed with my clients.) So the money simply doesn’t exist to ship the bikes home. We can’t make it materialize from thin air, we don’t have parents to borrow from – just not possible.
Kay suggests aloud that maybe we should just sell the bikes. Javier confirms that even if someone does buy the bike, he or she won’t be able to leave the country with it – we have to be here to check the bike out of the country. It’s unlikely we’d be able to sell the bikes in the three days remaining to us here, so we’re back to having to fly down here to escort someone out of the country with our bikes, and then fly home from wherever. Not a good option, either.
Javier leaves us with a lot to ponder. We need to find someplace to store the bikes, and figure out finances for when we get home. If we now have to raise twice the money to get the bikes home – money for us to fly down and money for the bikes to get home – it’s going to take us longer, which means we have to store the bikes longer. Boo and boo and boo again.
But there’s a cat!
On the bright side, we meet David – a Canadian who has been riding around the world since 2009 and has been all over the place. We spend a very happy evening chatting with David about travel, bikes and all the cool places he’s been. It takes our mind off the logistical problems, which we now have four days to sort… so we leave that till tomorrow to figure out.
( Kay’s note: I totally love David’s approach to where he’s going to go. He has had essentially zero plan. I think he went to Iceland because he found a flier about it on his way somewhere, had no idea it was such a big off-road riders destination. He didn’t intend to go to Africa but then he was riding down the east coast of it. He was going to head over to south america, or somewhere, but that didn’t work out so he went up the west coast. Totally just going with the flow.
We stayed up until about 1:00 AM chatting and trading stories, although he definitely had more. He’s totally easy to talk to, but it’s been an interesting insight into the differences between the mindset of those multi-year riders and people like us who are much happier doing three to four months at a go. )