Day 237 – Dolores to Montevideo, Uruguay

Day 237 – Dolores to Montevideo, Uruguay      04/15/11      Mileage: 211

It rained most of the night and into the morning, but around 8:30 it let up just long enough for me to break camp and hit the road. Fifteen minutes later it started pouring and there was nowhere to even pull over and wait it out, so I pressed on. Thankfully the rain stopped just before the town of Colonia de Sacramento, a touristy and expensive colonial town that was worth a quick look.

A cool old car parked on the street…

After snapping some photos I was back on the bike heading for the capital of Montevideo. Along the way I passed what must have been a pro cycling race with a full entourage of police and support vehicles.

I arrived in Montevideo a short time later and settled into a hostel near the city center.

That night I walked around and I have to say that the downtown has the look and feel of NYC more than any other city I’ve been to on this trip…right down to the pizza shop on every other corner.

I got a table in a street cafe and enjoyed a margarita pizza and a liter of beer while taking in the scene.

Back at the hostel I chatted with some of the other travelers and used the wifi before calling it a night….

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Day 236 – Buenos Aires, Argentina to Dolores, Uruguay

Day 236 – Buenos Aires, Argentina to Dolores, Uruguay      04/14/11      Mileage: 228

Valerii was heading the same direction this morning, so we agreed to ride together. He was heading for Paraguay…me for Uruguay. I chatted more with the lads from the UK and used the wifi for a bit, then packed the bike and Valerii and I hit the road.

Valerii and his white Honda Africa Twin….

L to R: John, Dave, Ian and the famous Javier…owner of Dakar Moto’s…

It was good to be rolling again for sure, though I think I needed a good break from the day to day grind of the road…and Buenos Aires was the perfect spot to do it. About 90 miles from Buenos Aires, we crested a small bridge and up ahead I could see a police checkpoint. No big deal, Valerii and I have each been through hundreds of them, and most of the time they just wave you through..or perhaps just a question or two. But this time the cop waved us to the side of the road and said one word…seguro…Spanish for insurance. He didn’t care about a license, import permit, passport….nothing. He wanted to see our insurance documents for one reason…because it’s mandatory in Argentina and he doesn’t think we have it…and he would be right. In fact few overland bikers do purchase it and he probably knows that. So, I’ve developed a bag of tricks for dealing with cops, now I just have to decide which trick to pull out of the bag to get out of this. Hmmm, I think I’ll play the document game with him. It goes like this…he asked you for something, in this case an insurance document. You in turn look puzzled as to what he’s actually looking for, but you want to seem helpful, so you start pulling out all manner of paperwork and official looking documents and just keep handing them over one by one….then two at a time until he’s got a mound of official paperwork and documentation 2 inches thick. As he hands one back you hand him another one…international vaccination record, international driving permit, tourist card….whatever…just keep handing over documents until he forgets what in the hell he actually asked you for in the first place. It’s also important to make sure he see’s your passport filled to the rim with stamps so he know’s that your an experienced traveler…and you must know what your doing. I point to all the flags on my side cases also…it builds the case that you actually know what you need more than he does. Eventually, as was the case this time too, they tire of the game, hand your stack of paperwork back and wave you on. Valerii was behind me and I can hear him playing a similar game. He handed the cop a bunch of paperwork with his insurance card from Ukraine, pointed to the 20+ countries on his fairing and said it’s valid everywhere…knowing full well it’s not valid outside of Ukraine…heck, maybe not even in Ukraine! Lol Anyway, he let Valerii pass also and we were on our way. Another 60 miles up the road we reached my turnoff for Uruguay.

Safe travels my friend…

We wished each other well on the rest of our journeys, and we parted ways. The border was blissfully simple as both the Argentina and Uruguay border posts are in one building. They even have the 4 desks you have to go to right next to each other and numbered 1,2,3,4….brilliant! Crossing a border in 4 easy steps…literally! So that done, it was on into Uruguay…country number 17.

Found this great little dirt road through the open country of central Uruguay…

It was starting to get dark so I found a good stealth campsite….that is…until they turned the lights on for some night practice on the soccer field…damn…didn’t see that when I pitched my tent in the dark! Oh well, I ain’t moving now…

Day 235 – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Day 235 – Buenos Aires, Argentina      04/13/11      Mileage: Local miles

Javier at Dakar Moto’s had tracked down a set of tires for me, so after picking those up I was going to hit the road north. Helena and Gustavo have been such gracious hosts and their home is so nice and comfortable, it’s hard to leave for sure!

With digs like this, no wonder it was so hard to leave! 

But the KLR isn’t going to ride itself back to NJ, so I packed my things and headed for Dakar to pick up my tires.

As it turns out, they didn’t arrive until 6pm. There were also a few other bikers staying there that night, and we started to do what bikers do when they get together….drink beer and tell lies and tales from the road. Valerii is from the Ukraine and is on the South American leg of an around the world ride! There were also 3 other riders from the UK…John, Dave and Ian…that were there waiting for their bikes to be delivered after being held up in transit. Their plan is to head for Ushuaia, then ride up to New York…so it may work out that we get to ride some miles together, perhaps in the US! Worst case we’ll try and meet up when they arrive in NYC. So, it seems I wasn’t meant to leave Buenos Aires just yet…and I crashed at Dakar Moto’s for one last night…

Day 232 – 234 – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Day 232 – 234 – Buenos Aires, Argentina       04/10-12/11        Mileage: 0

I spent the last few days running errands and trying to track down a new set of tires after hearing how expensive they are in Brazil. The odd thing is that many of the motorcycle tires sold in South America are made in Brazil, so you would think they would be cheap there…go figgure.

They had a KLR on the sales floor…but no tires in stock…  😦

Here is a rare sight in South America….a Buell XB12 Ulysses…..me gusta! The only other one I saw in all of South and Central America was Cort’s (the owner of Freedom Bike Rental) back in Quito, Ecuador…

I also took Helena and Gustavo’s son Alex for a ride on the back of my bike. He’s quite the little dare devil at the age of 5 and the harder I hit the throttle the more he liked it. In 15 or so years, it seems that maybe he’ll be globe trotting on his own adventure motorcycle. I also took a walk one afternoon to the river front near the house which was quite a nice little scene.

 A view down the river towards downtown Buenos Aires…

Other than that I just chilled and enjoyed Buenos Aires.

Day 231 – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Day 231 – Buenos Aires, Argentina      04/09/11      Mileage: 0

I woke up at 1 in the afternoon with what I could swear was an axe buried in my head. I wasn’t motivated to do squat but I did at least sort through some pictures and did a bit of work on the blog. I also heard from Joachim and Kyosti, the father and son team from Denmark that I rode with back on the Carretera Austral in Chile. They had arrived in Buenos Aires a few days ago and have a flight back home in a 3 days. It just so happens that they were staying in…you guest it…San Telmo, so I rallied to meet them for a few beers that evening.

We ended up staying a bit later than I thought enjoying the live music in Dorrego Square and I misread the train schedule, so ended up missing the last train back to Martinez by 30 minutes. Crap! Oh well, so I went and parked myself in an all night cafe for a bite to eat and some coffee. Needless to say it was another late night getting home at 6am again…

Day 230 – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Day 230 – Buenos Aires, Argentina      04/08/11      Mileage: 0

Helena told me to check out Puerto Madero, so after catching the train back downtown that was my first stop. It runs right along the old wharf that surely was a bustling port back in the day. The warehouses that run along the docks have been converted to trendy restaurants, upscale office space and even a college.

 

Hooters….flying the American flag of beer swilling buffalo wing eating goodness in the middle of Buenos Aires.

The old cranes were painted and now stand as towering relics of a bygone era. One has even been turned into an information booth.

After walking along the waterfront I walked the few blocks over to my new favorite bario…San Telmo. I parked myself in the square and took in the scene for a few hours.

A tango in the Plaza Dorrego…

Beto and Tracy had also arrived in town, so I made dinner plans with them in Polermo. I met them at an apartment of another rider they had met along their route. Felix is from Colombia but is now studying and living in Buenos Aires. After polishing off a bottle of Johnny Walker Red at his place, we went out for dinner.

As chance would have it we ended up right back in San Telmo where we had dinner, drinks and continued the makings of a mean hangover until 4am.

I first had to catch the train back to Martinez so I didn’t get back until 6am. Tomorrow, or actually, today is going to hurt…

Day 229 – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Day 229 – Buenos Aires, Argentina      04/07/11      Mileage: 0

After a good night’s sleep at Gustavo and Helena’s, I went back downtown to pick up my Brazilian visa.

Helena and Gustavo’s house in Buenos Aires…

It wasn’t ready when I arrived and was told to come back in 2 hours….so I went and used the wifi in a nearby cafe.

Returning to the consulate my visa was ready and I was off to explore more of Buenos Aires. I wanted to check out the bario of San Telmo which is supposed to be the hip part of town, like the Village in NY. I spent the afternoon walking around and sitting in a cafe on Plaza Dorrego which was really enjoyable.

Plaza Dorrego in the heart of San Telmo…

After lingering to take in the scene, I hopped the train back to Martinez where Gustavo and Helena were hosting a small dinner party which they graciously invited me to.

L to R:  Helena, Gustavo and me….

It’s in situations like this that I realize how limited my wardrobe is, as the nicest things I had to wear were grease stained jeans, a quick dry Fox riding jersey and flip-flops. No one cared though as like Gustavo and Helena, their friends are gracious, fun and enjoyable to talk with.

….and one with the ladies! Too bad their all taken….

Thankfully they also all spoke excellent english and were spared the indignity of my clumsy and limited pigeon spanish. We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening of great conversation, good food, wine, and whiskey and cigars for the boys on the back patio before calling it a night.

That was certainly one of the most enjoyable days on the trip…thanks Helena and Gustavo!