Leaving Buenos Aires I had mixed feeling, I was very excited about getting back on the road but really like Buenos Aires and could easily have stayed for another week, there is so much to see and do there. We had a long way to ride South to Patagonia and across to Chile. We sadly decided not to go all the way to Ushuaia as we just felt that we did not have time ad the last thing we want to do is stress on our honeymoon. So we decided to ride as far as Comodoro Rivadavia, along the coast and then cut across to Chile.
Our first stop was Mar Del Plata a nice but very touristy seaside town. The ride was great, yes long boring roads but it you can’t cope with that you are not an adventure biker. Interesting twisties and great scenery is one thing but when you are crossing a continent you really do spend hundred, no thousands of kms on long straight boring roads and I enjoy them. It’s kind of meditative. It was relay nice to see Joern either in front of me or in my rear view mirror. It just makes it fun and we travel well together, we have the same outlook, pace and endurance. Mar Del Plata is 415kms from Buenos Aires and it was easy and just GREAT to be back on the bike, we arrived just after 4pm so had a good few hours to explore.
Bahia Blanca was another 464 easy kms from Mar Del Plata. We got up late so only arrived just before 6pm and as we pulled into a petrol station my clutch cable broke. Talk about good timing. In Buenos Aires I had taken my bike to a Honda dealer to get a full big service done as Gadget had done 21000kms from Bogata and although I’d done small things and had the oil changed etc it was time for a big service. A few days before BA the clutch had started sticking so I had decided to swap it out with a new one I was carrying and thought I’d keep the old one as the spare. Dumb idea and a perfect example of not fixing something unless it is broken. I should have just had it oiled. The mechanic had routed the new cable alongside the steering column but close to the steering lock. So every time I turned the handle bars the cable was pinched but not noticeable at all. It only took 2 days for the steering lock to grind right through the cable but fortunately just as we arrived in a city. It took Joern 10 minutes to oil the old one and replace the new now broken one with it … I knew there was a good reason to invite him on my trip 😉 We also double checked and his spare clutch cable for his Africa Twin will fit my bike perfectly so we still have a spare cable in case.
Next stop Las Grutas 430kms further south, another easy day but WINDY wow the wind down here is incredible, but we have been very lucky with great weather and only one small 30 minute shower. It is also a lot cooler down here but after 40/42oC in Brazil I am enjoying the cool riding weather. Las Grutas is a lovely seaside town, small and just stunning. We spoilt ourselves with a beach side hotel and 5 minutes after we arrived were in the pool.
Up to this point one of the things that had been on my mind a lot was my lack of temporary import tables. When I arrived in Argentina I was not given any temporary import papers. I did ask at the border for papers and was told ‘’no documents go’’ It was one of the easiest border crossings ever and since you don’t get import papers in Brazil I thought this was just the same process. But I was wrong. When Joern arrived he got papers and Sandra from Dakar motors who helped him with the import told him to make sure he did not lose his papers. He assumed I had papers and I assumed that like me he didn’t. He did mention it the day before we got married and I said oh I don’t have those and just put it completely out of my mind … I had better things to think about. On our way down south I remembered our conversation and started to get concerned. I researched the situation on the web and it seems I definitely needed them and some mistake was made at the border. So I started to get worried and we decided to stop over in Comodoro Rivadavia as it is a port city with a customs office. We decided that the best action would be to go to the customs and explain the situation.
Comodoro Rivadavia is 670kms from Las Grutas so it was a long hard ride and extremely windy, by the time I got in my neck was cramped from trying to keep my head up against the wind, sadly this happens when you don’t have a windshield. Other than that it was okay though just not at all bad with a perfect road and some slightly more interesting scenery. We checked into the hotel and got everything ready to go to the customs office in the morning.
Other than the wind one more thing I can say about Patagonia is that it is expensive DAMN Argentina is MUCH more expensive than Brazil and the further south you go the more expensive accommodation gets, no wonder people camp more here than anywhere else, which we’ll be doing as well. The place is stunning though and the people very nice. I had prepared a letter in Spanish thanks to my friend Ric in Switzerland, and we had the address in hand. I was worried as I hate dealing with bureaucracy especially foreign country bureaucracy when you don’t speak the language. I had no idea what the customs people would do or how long it would take. They could have refused to help and told me I needed to go back to Iguaçu or Buenos Aires or (as had been suggested on the internet) impound my bike. SO I was Nervous.
Well how silly was I, expecting the usual apathy and by the book attitude you often get from these places we were blown away by the positive attitude from the people at the customs office in Comodoro Rivadavia. All we had was a note translated to spanish via mail by Ricardo back home. Took them 2 minutes to find Luciana who spoke english to help us. Two others started phoning collegues at other offices. Then Marianna who spent 4 years in the US and spoke perfect english informed us, that we had to go to another office, but she would go with us and help. She left the office in her car with us following and took us to Silvia in a little booth on the docks and explained the situation. Sylvia nodded a lot, took a sip of mate and then told us to pick up the paper we needed at 1400. They even wrote a note to the guards at the entry to let us back in. At 1350 we were back and was handed the exact document needed. No fuss, no fee just have a nice day and enjoy your trip. Wow, thanks girls, you are awesome
Special Thanks to Mariana, Silvia, Luciana and all the ladies and gentlemen in the customs offices in Comodoro Rivadavia. What I loved about these ladies and gentlemen is that they just took it like another day in the office, even being quite surprised when we turned up with a cake to say Thanks. However they have no idea what a huge impact this act of kindness has on a traveller.