Category Archives: Argentina

Futrono to San Carlos de Bariloche, Friday, 25 January 2013, Day 206

Great morning run light and scenery perfect 🙂

I had breakfast at the hotel home made bread from a wood oven it cannot get much nicer than that. I hit the road and the scenery and the light are fantastic so very pleasant riding I am heading for the border so that means another stint on route 5 which is a toll road and have been shelling out quite regularly for it when the GPS is telling me to turn of the motorway and do a U turn come back on the motorway and then turn off there! Strange but I  follow the instructions blindly but that means paying the toll again so I am expecting a bit of a debate however my GPS says it’s the next turn off not the first one and as I sail pass I realise it is being its usual accurate self and I have missed the turning so I have to go a couple of km before I am able to do a U turn and come of at another exit 500 meters before the one I had just come of about 2 minutes ago. Try explaining this to the booth attendant that I had just paid a couple of minutes ago but she is having nothing of it even after I show her my receipt as well so I am well pissed of in having to pay again and by my now there is a bit of a queue building up behind me and they start honking there horns so I turn round and tell them all to f**k of as I am well pissed off now booth attendant does not care she is not letting me through. I eventually cough up the money and give her a gob full in Spanish and English to vent my frustration but she just shuts the window and jeers at me holding up the money jobs worth bitch. So it looks like Philly has some serious pent up aggression in him today I wonder what the cause of that is?

Why so grumpy with scenery like this !!!

So I am back on the right road again and I am looking for a car museum I had read about which I find and spend an hour or so chilling out at the Auto Museum Moncopulli, which has huge collection of Studebaker’s which are one of my favourite old timers. So a bit more chilled out now but I get in another ruck at a petrol station with some arrogant prick in a big car who wants to know which pump I am queuing for and I politely tell him whichever one comes free first as I was here first and that is how a queue system works he not happy with this response but  I do not give a fig as he not getting ahead of me. What really makes my days is he pulls in after me once the pump is free and is told that there no diesel at this pump and he would have to go to another one. Later he try’s to lecture me about cars having there petrol tanks on one side and I tell him to go f**k himself like I care so for some reason today I seem to be looking for a fight aggressive little bastard that I am and I have been so chilled for so long and its been a while since I had a Philly rant and I am determined not to have one.

 

      

      

      

Old Cars got to love them!

Today I am heading into Argentina so you could say the tag line of Alaska to Chile or is that Argentina has been fulfilled but I am still miles away from my goal that being getting from the top of the Americas to the bottom of the Americas so that could explain some of my grumpiness and frustration.

So I head to the border and much to my delight I bump into Alex and Andrea waiting in the queue to exit Chile I had a vague idea that they were crossing today and was half expecting and sort of agreed to meet them but I was very fortunate that we hit the border at the same time. It is good to see some friendly faces.

I know these people I do wish they would stop following me everywhere 😉

It is a standard border crossing so that’s

  • Export Daisy
  • Export Me
  • Import Me
  • Import Daisy

  

First through no mans land

Very simple except for huge queues at immigration on the Argentinean side so it took the standard hour and half to cross but a lot simpler than some of the crossing I had done.

  

Nice drive in a yet another new country and we are heading to the famous San Carlos de Bariloche A & A have a couch surfer place tonight so we grab some dinner together and we do a quick catch up and arrange that we will travel south together for a while and then I head of into a very touristy town in the high season trying to find somewhere cheap to sleep. First place full they could not even be bothered to open or answer the door so it was not looking good so I try and find another one but I cannot locate it but I spot a Hostelling International place so I try that but expensive even with my discount card and some negotiations still steep the problem is its late I have no point of reference for prices in Argentina so I except the offer so I have a bed and there is secure parking when we can clear the entrance of illegally parked cars in front of the garage doors.

I go for a walk around town I am not to impressed it is full of shops selling chocolate  and is very Germanic but has very little charm. A pleasant walk to a nice church with some great wood carvings all the standard Jesus stories but the woodwork and carvings are very interesting and different so ignoring the subject matter great pieces of work.

I head back to the Hostel and work on this and finally crash at about 12pm it has been a long day and I am meeting A & A and heading south tomorrow. Getting closer day by day.

I have got my own personal photographer back Yeah more photos from Andrea on Smugmug 🙂

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San Carlos de Bariloche to Gobernator Costa, Saturday, 26 January 2013, Day 207

Tough life on the road you just need to lie down every now and again 🙂

I am riding with Alex and Andrea again which is nice but first I had to find them as they where couch surfing some where in Bariloche and I had arranged to go there and pick them up at about 9am. So I had my free breakfast, which always seems to take longer than planned and I got the bike out of the car park and pulled up the address on my GPS that Andrea had put into it yesterday. I got lost and was directed down some seriously steep dirt roads (Coffee still had not kicked in so that is all I needed) and then eventually I found the road they where staying on but I did not have the house number. You put the house number in when you put the address in the GPS and Garmin and Mr GPS are supposed to get you to the right end and correct side of the street that matches the number problem number one is with the maps I have in my GPS they are never even remotely close so normally on the wrong side of the street and miles away from the number you want to be at especially if it is a long street. Problem number 2 it tells you that you have arrived at the address but it never reveals the number, which of course you cannot remember, so in short yet another shortcoming of my GPS or is it that the  operator is an idiot and does not how to operate it you decide. So I am on the right street but I have no idea which house so the only thing to do is ride up and down and hopefully I will spot Alex’s bike. I do one length of the street no joy a lady stops me and ask’s me what I am doing and or what I am looking for I try to explain but it is  very strange that I do not know the house owners name and or the house number so she is rather suspicious of this strange hairy bloke on a bike with foreign plates riding up and down her street. I do another pass and Alex comes running out of a garden that I had driven by pass twice already so I had not spotted his bike but he had noticed me riding up and down so I had found the Romanian duo so its time to hit the road.

Nice hot day scenery interesting and all in all a nice day we are paranoid about petrol and there not been any so  we are stopping whenever we see a petrol station as we never no when the next one will be and if it will have any petrol so this slows progress slightly but it will slower if we run out.

ever changing scenery

where are we?

      

We have a great late lunch as we plan to do some wild camping tonight and when we arrive at our final petrol fill up in the small town of Gobernator Costa we find out there is a Municipal Campsite so we opt for that as it is supposed to be free its not but it is cheap as chips EUR1.50 so we set up camp out of the wind which has been blowing consistently all day. Its a nice spot and a pleasant evening before an early night back in the tent

Back under Canvas

Gobernator Costa to Pico Truncado, Sunday, 27 January 2013, Day 208

Dammed wind on Ruta 40!

Today both Alex and me are feeling very brave and we have decided rather then head over to Route 3, which is a Tarmac to the bottom of Argentina we are going off road on the infamous Route 40. I am not sure why we are feeling so brave and as you know my off road abilities are crap and Alex has Andrea on the back of his bike making off roading a tad more difficult but yet we had persuaded each other that we should not be wuzzes and had to the hit the dirt. We packed up breakfast at the petrol station and then to Rio Mayo where Route 40 turns from tarmac to dirt and is dirt for 30km and then new tarmac till Perito Moreno then loads more dirt to Tres Lagos but we still had an opt out clause at Perito Moreno to still head across to Route 3 if we did not like our little off road dirt experience.

  

      

We filled up both the bikes and ourselves in Rio Mayo huge piece’s of breaded meat with cheese ham and eggs on it for a late lunch as again we are planning on doing some wild camping tonight.

 

So we are stuffed to the gills as we gingerly make our way onto the dirt road and to help us with this endeavour the wind is really strong and gusting pushing us all over the place which is all you do not need when you trying to find the smoothest part of the dirt road so progress is slow. There is a choice between a dirt track and another dirt track that sort of being prepared for tarmacking and we swopped between the two finding out that the grass was always greener on the one that we were not on.

Choice crap dirt road on the right or crap dirt road on the left Alex takes this seriously so he and Andrea took a closer look no photos of this!

I was already regretting my decision and my rush of bravado to do off road stint as we crawled through the dust counting the kilometres off one by one until we reached tarmac again. On one of the cross overs from one dirt track to another there was the dreaded soft sand on hill which I skirted around but in my mirrors I watched Alex and Andrea hit the dirt and they where down. I pull up park the bike so that it will not get blown over by the wind and run back to help the guys up to there feet. Everyone is ok bike is ok adrenalin is pumping but all is well. The first thing Alex asks me if is did I take any pictures and to be honest as I was running to help them I did think about this being the  perfect photo opportunity but my caring Phill kicked in first and I helped them first and made sure all was alright before pulling the camera out after knowing that they where fine and it was only a low speed off I now wish that I had pulled the camera out earlier 🙂

  

So I was not happy on the dirt and I am guessing that A & A where not that thrilled with miles and miles of dirt so when we hit tarmac the decision was relatively easy to make we are hitting Route 3 down to Fitzroy as it has already taken us nearly 2 hours to do 33km so at that speed we would be in Ushuaia in 2014 so its longer distance by tarmac but this is definitely quicker for us.

Happy to be back on Tarmac

We stop on the Tarmac part of Route 40 to take some fun pictures with the wind and the signs. I had been teasing A & A when they where looking to buy a Route 40 sticker for there bike that they do not deserve it until they had completed the full length of it including the dirt parts as well however after today and as they had seen Route 40 from extremely close up I said that they had earned it 🙂 and they could buy and add the sticker to there collection.

Windy!

So the original plan was to head to Perito Moreno and camp there but as we were now heading to Route 3, which was about 200km we decided as we were back on our beloved tarmac that we would try and take a large chunk out of this bit tonight and we headed of for Las Heras where my GPS was telling there was a municipal camp site and fuel.

We got there at about 8.30pm and filled up and we then went to find the campsite which compared with last nights it was a hole and there were gangs of youths that had been drinking all day hanging around which was most off putting so we soon decided that we were heading to the next town even though it was getting late and the next place was nearly 80km away.

So off we headed on the right looking back there was one of the most glorious sunsets I had seen for while the light was amazing and in front of us was the moon a new full moon coming up over the horizon so I did not know whether to look forward or backwards as we where passing through an oil field with nodding donkeys all over the place and it was beautiful and I really did not care on reaching the next place by nightfall as I was enjoying the light so much. I was trying to take photos whilst driving which was not working for me as I kept getting my gloves in the way I eventually decided to pull over to get a shot of the moon over one of the nodding donkeys from a stationery position which sort of worked then in hot pursuit of A & A which involved over taking a police car we had stopped earlier to ask about camping possibilities and they had said there was a Municipal campsite in Pico Truncado. They where doing 90km and they had a sticker on the back saying 110km so a sailed past at 109km waving politely and when they where out of sight I nailed it to catch up with A&A.

Got to Pico Truncado just as the Sun had gone down still a gorgeous pink light show and there was an interesting sculpture of a dinosaur made of old oil drilling equipment that was dying to be photographed.

Interesting Sculpture but better still the light

Whilst we discussing what to do next another a biker pulled up and walked over to chat with us his front tyre had just blown and he was busy calling folks. Alex had an electrical pump so we tried that but his blown front tyre was not staying up. It turned out the chap name was Daniel and he had a car repair shop a couple of km away and if we liked we could sleep there the night. Wow cheers mate so we follow his mechanic who had turned up to help with the puncture and find ourselves in a huge hanger / workshop in the middle of no where and this is going to be home for the night. The office for A & A and the supply room for Philly and it even had a hot shower on the premises. So after chatting to Daniel and looking at his bike we found the reason for the puncture was that he had hit something really hard and dented and broken his wheel explaining why it was no longer holding air so he was lucky to stay upright but it shows how fragile perhaps V-strom rims are on Argentinean roads that both me and Alex had a quick look and check of ours after seeing the damage on Daniels. After offering us dinner we politely declined we where left on our own in this huge workshop talk about trusting and generous spirit this bloke has for letting total strangers sleep in his workshop.

Home for the night

It was quite late by now but I was buzzing at it had been a long eventual day so we had a cup of tea and sat in the office just chilling for while before pulling out the sleeping bags and mats. Earlier Alex was trying to figure out where he was going to put his tent up and I explained that there was no need as we sleeping in the office and store room I blame this brain freeze on the fall and the long day we had had today but it made me giggle.

Chilling after a long day in an office in a workshop in the middle of nowhere.

We finally hit the sack amongst the car spare parts and oil cans what a strange but great day.

Strange dreams about Police cars or was it a dream!

      

Pico Truncado to Puerto Santa Cruz,Monday, 28 January 2013, Day 209

Leaving our workshop home Mucho Gracias Daniel!

waiting for A & A

Up early as we did not wish to be an intrusion to Daniel and his team when they came to work on Monday morning and we did not want to be in there way.

Daniel had brought us breakfast so media lunas (Croissants) and other nice stuff from the bakery and teas so how thoughtful is that.

We finally managed to leave so Daniel thanks mate you are a star a scholar and a gentleman and we thank you for your generosity.

We are trying to get as far South as possible today but first Alex wants to spend some time on the Internet getting his blog up dated so at the first petrol station with Wi-Fi he starts working on this. We are heading to a nice campsite we had heard about on an Island in the middle of a river in Cmde. Luis Piedra Buana and as I did not fancy working for hours on my blog with a dodgy Internet I decided to press-on on my own as I fancied chilling out in an idyllic campsite rather than at a petrol station so said I would meet the guys later in the day. So I headed to Puerto San Julian for a late lunch I managed to find me a roast chicken dinner as most of the town was shut. Lots of memorials around for the Falklands/ Las Malvinas war and while I had been in Argentina I have seen a lot of references to Las Malvinas being Argentinean so when I am asked where I am from sometimes I am reluctant to tell folks that I am British and if I do I always qualify it by saying that I have lived in the Netherlands for the last 30 years I am not sure if it is a problem me being British but I certainly do not what any hassle due to my nationality so I am bit cautious with the English bit. Whilst I was in a petrol station signing the credit card in the office there was a telly on and it said Maxima Queen of the Netherlands. This is what I read in the subtitles seemingly Queen Beatrix has abdicated or will abdicate and the Argentinians have a Queen in Maxima and its on all the news now and papers here so I am using this a deflection from my Englishness telling folk that I live next door to the Queen, well sort of next door to her horses (My flat is next to the Royal Stables) as it is very topical here at the moment. I will not get started on my views on Royalty and Kings and Queens here only to say up the republic 🙂

Lots of Malvinas/Falklands signs around.

I head to the campsite rendezvous spot and it is quite nice and is out of the wind being on a river which tend to be lower than the surrounding land around it so this gets you out the wind which is nice as its has been consistent blowing for the last couple of days it is  not that strong but I am expecting it to get worse as I go further south.

So go in and ask about the camping the first bombshell is that it is  very expensive for camping considering we paid very little on the Municipal sites so go and sit on a nice lawn in the sun and wait for A & A to turn up and working on my blog off line this time.

  

 

Stop running away Phillys needs a photo for his blog!

They turn up an hour or so later and I have been enjoying relaxing in the sun but its getting late and we have no where to stay yet so it is on to plan B 30km to Puerto Santa Cruz as there is a Municipal site there which we find and its excellent clean loos hot water a great location also out of the wind and to top it all off its free!

We set up camp head down to the seafront as Alex has a craving for some fish and we find a nice little restaurant on the seafront which has Wi-Fi so we take over all the available plugs as our computers need charging and we enjoy a good meal and then it is back to the tent for another good night sleep. Believe it or not I am actually enjoying the camping, which surprises me as usually I normally find it a pain in the arse but so far I am enjoying it and preferring it to hostels and hotels. Could it be the location, could it be the fact that its warm and dry so no packing up wet tents could it be the company I do not know but I am liking and enjoying it and getting some good nights of sleep in as well which is an added bonus.

Full Moon 🙂

Puerto Santa Cruz to El Calafate, Tuesday, 29 January 2013, Day 210

Daisy 🙂

We are supposed to be heading South but today we are going to do a U turn and head North West why the diversion well there is a must see glacier called Perito Moreno that is on my shiny object distraction list so hence the change in direction. As we want to stick to tarmac this is a bit of a detour to Rio Gallegos and there we do a quick calculation and decide we can make it to the next petrol station so we do not go the 20km into town to fill up. When we get to the next gas station at Las Horquetas we are running on fumes and you guessed it there is no fuel available fortunately I have about 7 litres in 2 old plastic oil cans strapped to the back of Daisy (you where wondering what those where were you not) and Alex has 4 litres strapped to his so finally time to bring out the reserves its 60km to the next station so no reason yet for concern even with the horrendous fuel consumption I am getting at the moment due to the strong winds it can make a difference of about 7km to the litre when you are riding into the wind so that gives you some idea of the strength of the wind and this has been  constant all day.

They do have food so we fill up on empanadas and hit the road again it’s a lot cooler and the wind is up so warm weather gear has been pulled out wearing the lining in my jacket for the first time since Canada and the warm winter gloves are on.

Wind warning signs slight tilt to the right it will get stronger!

Next station has fuel so next stop El Calafate we are debating on staying in town or pushing on 80km as we had heard there was a campsite near the glacier.

Poser!

We pull into El Calafate at about 5pm and fill up again there and there is bit of a queue so while I was signing the credit card slip Andrea thought she would be helpful and move Daisy away from the pumps so that the next car could start filling up but I am guessing Daisy is heavier than she looks and before you knew it Daisy was on her side with a very embarrassed Andrea struggling to pick her up oops a daisy. I had to laugh as I ran across to help her to get Daisy up right good entertainment for everyone at the pump Andrea was mortified at what she had just done. After a quick inspection of Daisy it looked like the radiator cover had a crack in it. Oh well you do not travel over 50,000km without picking up some battle scars no one was hurt and Andrea was shocked and embarrassed so I can milk this one for a while 🙂

Alex was also having bike trouble for some reason his chain was suddenly slack even though he had adjusted the chain this morning and it was making an awful crunching sound when pulling away so after checking the obvious which was fine we decided to hole up in town so first some food and then to find a campsite and set up camp and then we looked at Alex Bike. We had checked the obvious and where now working on the not so obvious so I said perhaps he had lost a couple of teeth of the front sprocket and that could explain the sudden slack as the back end so when he took the side cover off I was right the front sprocket was starting to disintegrate a couple of teeth very worn down and others hooked it looked completely knackered not at all like a sprocket that only had 18,000km on it should be able to do double that and the fact that this happened all in one day this is normally a slow process not a one day process so I think he had a duff sprocket but the problem now was how to get another one In Argentina not so easy so he hit the internet to contact our new friend Daniel to see if he had any ideas.

Pleasant evening as the campsite it had a kitchen where everyone congregated working on this and my photos and chatting to the folks there.

Late night and back in my tent for a good night sleep.

Camping and liking it at the moment !!

El Calafate, Wednesday, 30 January 2013, Day 211

Perito Moreno Glacier Cool 🙂

Alex had sent out a couple of E-mails last night about the sprocket issue but as yet had no responses Andrea made us breakfast and we decided we would go and visit the Glacier me and Andrea on Daisy and Alex would hitch hike the 80km and we would figure out what to do when we got back based on any responses on the leads that Alex had posted. First we check out the buses to the glacier but far to expensive and there is not one for a couple of hours so we walk to the road to see how the hitch hiking will work and within about 10 minutes he has lift and is gone so me and Andrea head back to the campsite via the supermarket as I needed my daily fix of Gatorade (my latest addiction) and we both needed our biscuit supply’s topping up.

Full bike kit today as it was cold and I expect to be colder still at the glacier I am not sure if Daisy will mind having someone on the back especially when that somebody ceremoniously dropped her in the middle of a busy petrol station scaring her radiator cover yesterday. Its has been a while since I had someone on the back as well and it was going to be interesting factoring in the wind as well. Turned out okay Andrea is an excellent passenger she should be considering the number of miles she done on her trip and we were soon whizzing our way to the Glacier. Nice ride and we met Alex at the entrance to the car park and he had been waiting there for a while so I blamed Andrea she blamed me and we offered him biscuits and all was well.

John R another one for you what is it ?

Got to love nature!

      

      

      

We walked to the glacier from the car park and this was a great way to be slowly introduced to the glacier we had already seen it from a distance on the way in and it was great but as we got closer it got better and every now and again you would hear a huge crashing noise as bits broke of and fell into the lake cool. There is about 4km of viewing platforms around the glacier and we probably covered most of it just walking and enjoying the sights, which was gorgeous. A very nice day well worth the big detour from our main goal of Ushuaia we were tired so got Alex a lift back and me and Andrea then walked all the way back to the Car park and I was well knackered when we got back to the bike and the biscuit supply.

Panorama Wow!

      

It was a nice ride back trying to stay awake was difficult at one point I turned around to say something to Andrea and she was sound asleep 🙂 so either she has total trust in my riding abilities or like me she is totally cream crackered.

Back to the campsite Andrea cooked for us again pasta this time which was nice I am tired of eating out all of the time no news on the sprocket front but we figured that they could still ride with the current one even though it’s a mess so they where heading back Rio Gallegos and as I had done that route before and I will be coming back through there so I am heading for Puerto Natales I will ride with them for the first 100km to La Esperanza and make sure they are all right and I will meet up with the later  in Ushuaia. Alex is pretty sure that I am not needed as we did think about shuffling with the luggage me taking Andrea him taking my tent bag to reduce the load but we decided to go for it as its only 360km to Rio Gallegos and he thinks he can get it fixed there. I have driven for miles with knackered old chains and sprockets on old bikes in the past as I was never one for good chain maintenance so I was not to concerned about this one it may sound awful but they could keep on moving for a while.

Another pleasant evening in the kitchen and later by the tents and then to bed another late night under canvas, which I am still enjoying!

El Calafate to Puerto Natales, Thursday, 31 January 2013, Day 212

Minors memorial for me Dad!

Day began with left overs for breakfast which is always nice and I was going to ride with A & A to La Esperanza where they would turn left in search of sprockets and chain and I would turn right because I did not want to do the same road again and we would meet up in Ushuaia or before.

It was very windy even in the sheltered campsite so I was a bit concerned how it would be on the open road but as we headed to La Esperanza it was not as bad as I expected but that was mainly due to the fact that we had the wind in our backs for most of the way. When I turned right I was heading straight into the wind and had it on right in my side, which made life for Daisy and me considerably more difficult so fighting with the wind for the rest of the day. Another border crossing the problem today was I could not find the road and my good friend the GPS was playing up as I was only about 30km away but when suddenly it was 130km away Homer Simpson Doh!

Very few photos taken during the day as I was to scared to stop just in case we got blown over by the wind and could not get back upright again!

Yet another Border crossing !

I finally find the road, which is not a road but a dirt track, and I find my way to the border. I am the only one there so get out of Argentina easily and another 14km of dirt road very windy and a bit of rain just to try and finish me of completely and I am trying to find somewhere where Daisy will not get blown over and I am going through Chilean customs. No one there either so chatting with the customs guys who are telling me that the winds have been gusting up to 100km an hour and idiot boy was out in that will he ever learn. You may have noticed that not many pictures have been taken today that is because my official photographer has gone of the other direction and that I was to shit scared to stop just in case Daisy and I got blown over in the middle of nowhere on me own and that I would not be able to get her upright due to the wind. So I was not surprised to hear about the strength of the wind, as the evidence of this was in me underpants! As I been kacking myself for most of the afternoon. So back in Chile again a short run to Puerto Natales and to the Hostel I had the name of and i checked in and did my usual wander around the town or today I was blown around town as the wind was still quite strong then to a short presentation on the national park of Torres del Paine which looked great but I had a date with the bottom of the world so no time for distractions as I am getting closer and closer to my goal.

Gorgeous wind related sculptures very appropriate!

I went for a nice Pizza where there was one long table that you joined and I was sitting and chatting to a nice German couple who had been traveling for 2 years and doing South America by bicycle and had also been defeated by the wind today. I like this set up as it is sometime difficult to talk to folks strangers whilst on the road especially for a shy bloke like me 🙂

Back to the Hostel and the never-ending chore of updating this blog and it is like the wind relentless!