Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Nov 2, 2001 -- Day 897

Credit to on the road again

-- Story by Chris --

Tues, Oct 30th – 10:30am: Arrived at Ezeiza International Airport, Buenos Aires, gathered our belongings onto one of those silver airport luggage carts, worked our way through customs, out of the arrival terminal, and wandered 100 meters into the cargo terminal to begin the process of reclaiming our bikes. We paid $60 for the Qantas Import Handling charges, then across the parking lot to the government bonded warehouse where the bikes were being stored. We left our luggage with the security office, and proceeded into the operations area where some attractive young ladies were willing to help expedite the paperwork process, in exchange for practicing their English. We sat down to wait for about a half-hour, where upon we met Daniel Kueller (sp?), a Swiss biker about our age who had just shipped his bike to BA via FedEx. This would be his 4th visit to South America with his bike (Africa Twin), and FedEx gave him an incredible rate (based on their normal charges) of $2.00/kg. Daniel had modified his AT with monster roo bars (like the 4x4s of Australia), a 45 liter fuel tank, 2x 5 liter Jerry cans in the fairing, and a 6 liter custom tank under the rear seat (all with hoses to the carbs), for a total capacity of 51 liters and a range of 1,000 kms! Painted dark green and black, it only needed an AK 47 mounted to the fairing to make it look like a military assault vehicle!

In previous experience, we were given 2-5 days free storage at the airports/seaports. Not in BA, the government warehouse does not charge for the day the parcel arrives (very gracious considering it arrived on a Sunday), but hit us with a hefty $100 service charge instead, + $60 for Dangerous Goods. Starting on Monday, they charge $43.50/day. So, the experience was very expensive, but to their credit, everyone was extremely helpful, and the process of uncrating and reassembling the bikes went quite smoothly. The 45-minute ride to Buenos Aires Norte, where we were staying, was a bit exciting, as we had to contend with frustrated Formula 1 drivers passing us on all sides.

Weds, Oct 31: Spent afternoon with Andres and family. Evening with Gabriel and gang from Gargulas. Went for ride on Cesar’s trike.

Friday, Nov 2: In true Ratay fashion, we hit the snooze button a couple of times and at 7:15am finally let the light slip under the sliver of my eyelid. Erin was in the shower, so I sent a message to my brain, and had my personal blinds lowered for a few more minutes. At 7:28, I realized it was time to get up so I popped out of bed and began the morning in 5th gear! By 11:30, we pulled out of Gyozo’s driveway.

It’s not that we’re THAT bad getting started in the morning, but rather we have a new luggage system (thanks again Al & Julie Jesse), and we had to modify our packing system from previous. I had panniers made for my R100PD, which held 100 liters, while Erin’s F650 panniers held 80. The new Odyssey bags we got each hold 95 liters, so we gained a bit of space. However, the internal design is different, so things didn’t fit the same way as before. It took a few hours, but the new system we came up with will be better than before -- we can store gear in the lids now, giving us 4 compartments per set of panniers – great for storing fleece jackets, winter gloves, books, sandals and sneakers. Anyway, the point is our time was well spent.

And so we got on to General Paz, the 12-lane highway leading in/out the north of the city. Although we had 6 possible lanes to choose from, all with traffic moving at a minimum of 100km/hr, it was not uncommon to see cars utilizing the left and right shoulder for passing/driving, essentially making 8 lanes heading north! Buenos Aires is probably the least safe place we’ve ridden to date. Sure, in India there are countless obstacles in front of you that must be avoided, but in BA the trouble also comes from behind and/or beside you!

Even though I had programmed our route into the GPS the night before, we misread a road sign and went through a small town, Gualeguaychu, instead of staying on the by-pass – this turned out to be a costly mistake. We asked for directions to the highway, got turned around, and stopped to ask a taxi driver. He told us to turn around again, and follow the calle (street) for 12 km back to Routa 14. So I pulled a "u-ey" (U-turn), unfortunately enfrente de seņor policia, who promptly pulled us over. He told us we made ‘un infracion’, and the fine would be US$250 – it wasn’t clear if this was per bike, or total. In the hot afternoon sun, it really didn’t matter. A local friend, Gabriel, just had to pay a US$270 motorcycle speeding ticket in Brazil (100km in an 80km zone), on the spot! Twenty-five minutes later and US$25 lighter, he drew us a map, we shook hands, and parted ways. Considering negotiations started at US$100 ($50/bike), I was thrilled with the deal I made.

Of course, 20 minutes later, while cruising down the road, I convinced myself I might have gotten away with paying only $10, but who knows?!?

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