Fist Full of Pesos

20 03 2009

As requested, here is the financial summary. I’ll preface it with a little information on our spending habits for the trip. We stayed in hostels when we could (and they weren’t too grim) but we also splashed out on nice hotels. We ate almost exclusively in restaurants and we didn’t make any attempt to do so frugally. We flew the bike when it needed to travel and didn’t mess around with sea freight. I did a lot of the work on the motorcycle, but not all of it. We started with much of the gear needed for the trip but also bought a fair amount of high-end stuff. In general we were conscious of spending, but gave preference to efficiency, convenience, and comfort. It was the vacation of a lifetime, after all.

 

Gas/Food/Lodging $16,917.26
Gear $1,800.82
Transport $2,680.45
Motorcycle $3,793.21
  

  $25,191.74

 

* Gas/Food/Lodging also includes miscellaneous day to day expenses like park fees, tolls, etc.
* Gear is just the new personal gear we had to purchase for the trip.
* Transport is shipping for the bike and flights for us.
* Motorcycle is accessories, prep, maintenance, and repair costs – I had the bike already.





Laundry Lists

17 03 2009

Statistics:

distance traveled: 17203 miles
gas burned: 502 gallons
highest altitude ridden: 16,388 feet
days riding: 71
days resting: 44 (includes two weeks trapped in Panama, one week post-trip in BA)
crashes: 4
tip overs: 4
bike blown over by wind: 1
flat tires: 0
cops bribed: 1
ran out of gas: 2

Lost:

  • Long-sleeved T-shirt (Trevor)
  • Nalgene bottle
  • Chapstick
  • Lens cap for camera
  • Mini tripod for camera
  • Wool hat (Nina)
  • 8/10mm open end combo wrench
  • Chilean electrical plug adapter
  • 10lbs (Trevor)

Broken:

  • Umbrella
  • 2 x luggage straps
  • Givi top box mounting plate
  • Givi top box shell
  • Caribou luggage right side breakaway lock
  • Caribou luggage left side mounting rack
  • KTM tank bag side pocket (ripped)
  • KTM tank bag fastener
  • Mountain Sun tank pannier fastener
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • 2 x Camelbak bladders (leaks)
  • Small camera
  • Nikon telephoto lens (still mostly functional)

Acquired:

  • Chapstick
  • Umbrella
  • Guatemalan shawl (present for a friend)
  • 2 x cotton t-shirts from Hostel Bekuo in San Jose (Thanks Storm!)
  • Replacement Camelbak bladder
  • 2 x rain ponchos
  • Ladies’ stocking (for filtering fuel)
  • New webbing to fix luggage straps
  • Anti-fog spray
  • Replacement Alpaca hat (Nina)
  • Replacement lens cap
  • Replacement small camera
  • Chile plug adapter
  • US plug adapter
  • Argentina plug adapter

Bike maintenance:

  • 3 x oil and filter change
  • 2 x front and rear tires
  • Fuel filter replacement
  • Air filter replacement
  • Water pump rebuild
  • Replace sheared sub frame bolt
  • Straightened front rim
  • Scheduled full service (change all fluids, etc.)

Wish we’d brought:

  • Waterproof snap camera (e.g. Olympus Mju 1030 SW)
  • Ambient temperature gauge (that actually works – our cheapo unit was wildly inaccurate)
  • Cheap rain suits (instead of waterproof liners)
  • Extra laptop
  • Wide-angle lens




So long and thanks for all the steak

26 02 2009

Although we have some videos to upload and some lists and costs to compile, this is officially our last trip update :(

Brendan made the most of his last day, whilst Trevor and I made the most of the sunlight for some final photos.

And of course, no Buenos Aires report is complete without the obligatory pictures of Recoleta cemetary.

Trevor said he has lived in NY apartments smaller than some of these tombs. For scale, see him peering in the door!

I could have spent all day in here, but hunger pangs gnawed at us and we retired for lunch and beer. (Trevor almost made us change restaurant until he discovered the steak on the menu). We spent the rest of the day wandering the streets and lazing in the parks where Trevor and Brendan watched the scantily-clad Porteños.

I was happy that our meandering took us past the giant Floralis Generic. This “generic flower” sculpture is made from steel and aluminium. It weighs more than 18 tons. The coolest thing about it though, is that just like a real flower, its petals open in the morning and close at night.


(See the skyline for a sense of scale. The wall around the lake it’s in is probably 3 metres tall!)

We chose the Standard for our last meal because Trevor fancied steak for a change, and we had been raving about it to Brendan. We were joined by our neighbour, Anthony, who had kindly loaned us his parking space in Palermo. It was a fitting final night.

The steak is 800 grams and 3 inches tall. It’s hard to show the size of it:

but easy to show how rare it is:

Final steak picture of the trip, I promise (blame Brendan!)

We spent our final day wandering the revamped Puerto Madero neighbourhood (which reminded me of the docklands in London).


(click for full effect)


(Santiago Calatrava’s oddly-named “Bridge of the Woman”!)

We are definitely sad to be leaving all this “behind” :(





Ship it!

23 02 2009

The final hurdle of our journey was shipping the bike home from Buenos Aires. Following the recommendation of several people, we enlisted the help of Sandra at dakarmotos.com. Sandra is a wonderful person and was very helpful answering our questions and assisting with the logistics of shipping. She found a shipping agent and got us a reservation. Over the next few days we completed a scavenger hunt across BA for some things required for shipping – notarized photocopies of all relevant documents, USD 1600 in cash (harder to obtain than you might think). (As it turns out, these are not actually necessary. See the end of this post for some shipping tips.)

On the morning of our appointment we rode to the airport and who should we run in to but Brendan. We had met Brendan briefly several weeks earlier on route 40 in Patagonia. He was riding his KLR from British Columbia to Ushuaia and coincidentally was shipping his bike back at the exact same time as us.

It was nice to have someone to hang out with while dealing with shipping. While talking, we discovered that Brendan had ridden for a while with two other sets of riders that we had met at different times – Pierre and Celine who we met on the street in San Jose, Costa Rica and Martin and Lorena who we met in Mendoza, Argentina and then later visited in Necochea, Argentina. Small world.

After waiting around for hours for a palette to be delivered for my bike, we eventually got to work and broke the bike down to be secured.

At some point, Nina got bored and found a little friend

Our shipping agent, Sergio from Navicon, handled all the paper work and a customs agent asked me a few quick questions before the package got wrapped up.

After 17,000 miles, Katie M’s work was done and we waved goodbye to her as she was whisked away on a forklift.  We accompanied Sergio to the office to pay and jumped in a cab with Brendan back to city.  Mission accomplished!

 

A few notes on shipping for anyone else doing it:

- You are probably best off dealing directly with a shipping agent. Sandra uses the most conservative, most restrictive set of shipping requirements in order to guarantee there aren’t any problems. This will cost you extra time and money. At her direction, we found a notary and paid for notarized photocopies of all our documents. Brendan just brought the originals to the airport and his shipping agent (All Cargo) made copies on the spot. The shipping agents we dealt with (Navicon, All Cargo) spoke excellent English and were extremely helpful, so unless you are shipping a bike in to the country or you can’t be present for shipping, there isn’t really a need for an intermediary.

- Break the bike down. Assembled the bike would have been a 500 kilo shipment and would have cost USD 1600. Broken down it was a 300 kilo shipment and cost USD 1200. Pricing is complicated and probably even varies by carrier, but you will almost certainly save by breaking the bike down. The packers at the airport were extremely helpful with this.

- Explore payment options. We spent a lot of time, effort, and bank fees getting US dollars to pay for shipping (we were told this was required). It turned out pesos would have been fine as well. A bank transfer arranged in advance would have been even better.





Buenos Aires facts

13 02 2009

Beunos Aires in the capital of Argentina.   The name means “Fair Winds” or “Good Air”. It is the third largest urban area in the whole of Latin America.  Its architecture most closely resembles that of Paris, Barcelona and blah, blah, blah…

Beunos Aires ROCKS!   The streets are wide and the parks are large and shady.  The Spanish is incomprehensible but the people incredibly friendly.  The food is delectable and the porteños are “hawt”.

Enough with the words, here’s some Beunos Aires pix:


(yippee, finally some good rabbit food for me!)


(Trevor’s off-road gloves don’t have guantlets and don’t quite meet his jacket!)

Sundays in Buenos Aires mean one thing.  Get yourself to San Telmo, buy some tat (sorry “original valuable antiques”) marvel at the French arcitecture and, best of all, people-watch.

Trevor was very pleased he was able to buy his own “Buenos F*cking Aries T-shirt within seconds of getting to San Telmo.  I was less impressed when he wore it the lawyer’s office (for notatrised photocopies) and the fancy Sheraton (to withdraw cash) the next day.

I resisted the urge to magpie and buy tat, and I wish I hadn’t.  I’d love to have one of these soda syphons!


(this old guy was up on a second floor balcony grinning and waving.  Bless!  Wonder if that’s all his does all day?)

Back in Palermo, these were all taken on our street.

Trevor had the alligator:

but don’t worry, he followed it with a steak:

It wasn’t all sun and roses, actually.  It poured with torrential rain, and I had to break out my blancmange cape to run to the store for beer!

It stopped just in time for us to make a dash for dinner.  We had 8.30 reservataions at La Cabrera, widely recommended as the best steak house in BA.  We were the first people there (because we were mad enough to make a reservation so early).  Those that thought they could walk in (who on earth eats that early??) queued around the streets.  We were very amused to see them passing out glasses of champage to those waiting and providing puzzles to keep them entertained.  Maybe they need to.  We certainly took our time!

We anticipated Trevor’s steak being large, so we only shared a plate of deep-fried olives as an appy (so yummy).   I then ordered a vegetable kebab, Trevor ordered his cut of beef, and we split a side of potatoes. This is what arrived:

This is actually taken before our side dish arrived.  Oh, you can’t see Trevor’s steak very clearly?  There were 4 of them!

It was seriously insane.   The complimentary “garnishes” included hummus, potato salad, warm beets, whole heads of roasted garlic, maccaroni, green beans, pate, mushrooms, you name it.  When our potatoes arrived, we didn’t touch them.  The waited offered to wrap them up as he cleared the table, and they served 3 of us for dinner the next night!  Wow!





A very British beach break

11 02 2009

Our ride from Puerto Madryn to Bahia Blanca was boring enough that we plugged in our iPod (which we haven’t used all trip).  Within half an hour the cord gave out, so we were left humming and reminiscing.  The most eventful part of the day was the cloudy ending.

At least the tolls were free for motos.

From Bahia Blanca, Ruta 3 is buttressed with sunflowers fields on both sides for as far as the eye can see.

It was a short, hot ride to Necochea where we were going to visit Martin and Lorena at the beach.  Beach – woohoo. Time to break out the bikini.

In Necochea, we were pleasantly surprised to find Martin’s brother owned an amazing restaurant called Sotavento (“tailwind”) right on the beach.

The food was amazing. (Thanks Ariel!) My chips and beer days are behind me. (Well, the chips part anyway!)

You can probably guess what Trevor had.

I KNEW I shouldn’t have mentioned the weather! I obviously angered the rain gods when I said that we’d been so lucky with it. We woke up to pouring rain. Oh well, at least Trevor got a head start washing his bike (required for shipping).

Since sunbathing was out, we took a bracing walk along the deserted beach and, casting about for things to do, decided to go and climb the lighthouse.


(spiral staircase from below)


(from above)


(the lighthouse is still active)

The storm was picking up and it began to thunder and lightening.


(have I mentioned Trevor is scared of heights!)

Necochea has been experiencing its worst drought for 20 years, it hadn’t rained a drop in 3 months. Today, the rains flooded the streets!

Even so, the great company, food and wine kept us in great spirits and we were still sad to say our goodbyes. Only the sweetness of Buenos Aires can take away the bitterness of the end being so near :( .





February of the Penguins

10 02 2009

It was 50 miles down a gravel road to Punto Tomba, where we were going to try and see more penguins.

All the way there, Trevor moaned about the state of the road, the wind, the detour, and that these had better be the best damn penguins he had ever seen!

They were. We hadn’t even got into the car park before we saw them.

Even Trevor got excited and wanted to take the photos.

I didn’t really know what to expect before we got there, but I certainly didn’t expect there to be 500,000 Magellanic penguins (the biggest penguin colony outside of Antarctica) and you to be able to walk freely among them.


(click for full effect)


(they are NOISY blighters!)

The park is an excellent and very chill reserve. There are a couple of raised paths and bridges, which are shared with the penguins, but other than that you just have to stay on the gravel paths. Penguins have right of way, as is only proper :) .


(a sign I never thought I’d see!)


(click for full effect)

The penguins share their habitat with guanaco (apparently NOT llama – oops!), rabbits, and small rodents called cavies.

We gave up any desire to get anywhere that night and spent hours watching the penguins waddle down to the sea where they swim like bullets, and wobble back up again.

The one-minute instruction briefing asks you to keep to the path and try and stay a metre away from the penguins – but sometimes they won’t stay a metre away from you!

I’m pretty sure these 3 are drunk and toddling off home for the night to sleep it off!

Here are a few movies I shot with the little camera (forgive the poor quality and the jerkiness, video obviously isn’t my thing, but I love to see them waddle!)








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