The day we were crating the bikes in NZ, we discovered (what
we thought was) a minor problem -- the piston rings on Chris bike had to be
replaced. Our friends from BMW NZ contacted BMW Argentina to give us an
introduction, and make arrangements for the parts. Nearly 10 weeks later, we arrived
back in BA to see friends and make the repairs.
Thursday, Dec 6th: Used the morning to get caught up on emails and to make
necessary contacts about getting the bikes worked on. In the afternoon we went to visit
Mariano at Motorcare (www.motocare.com.ar).
Our friends Frank and Rosa from New York will be coming to meet us for 2 weeks, and
Motocare is renting them a Honda Africa Twin for US$90/day and shipping it down to
Ushuaia. Mariano is a wonderful guy, eager to help and willing to make little changes here
and there to accommodate Franks needs on the motorbike. While we were at his shop he
offered to wash Chris bike while we chatted. Spent several hours there and took
digital pictures to send to Frank. Agreed to return tomorrow to bring in Erins bike
to have a look at the oil leak problem. Went to Evas for dinner with Andres and
Friday, Dec. 7th: Again, used the morning to do email and make phone calls.
Chris and Mariano worked on my bike to try to find the cause of the fuel choking off. Put
in an in-line filter to test out.
Saturday, Dec. 8th: Dropped off Chris bike at Cordasco Motorcycles,
one of the BMW dealers in town. Nice guys---Raul Cordasco is the owner, Marcello is the
nice salesman who speaks broken English, and Willy is the curly-haired hyper mechanic. We
will return Monday to start the work. Hooked up with Anne and Jason at their hotel right
in the center of town. Went to see the new Harry Potter movie and then a great buffet meal
for only $7.
Sunday, Dec. 9th: Met up with A&J again to do some sightseeing. First to
San Telmo and the market and then to La Boca and Caminito street to see the brightly
colored buildings and more Tango. Went to Andres for Marcellas birthday party.
Dec. 10th: Got to the m/c shop at 9am. Chris and Willy had the engine out of
the bike before Marcello and I had finished our discussion of the best routes to take
south. The engine was opened only to discover the rings were not worn, but that a piece
had broken off and played trampoline on the piston crown, damaging it and the cylinder. Of
course, no dealer stocks these parts, and frantic emails were sent around the world.
Our plans to depart BA and head south this weekend have been pushed back....
First to reply was Steve Howard from a plea we left on the Chain Gang Message Board www.F650.com -- His dealer verified the parts needed were
available from BMW North America. Parts would total about $500, but the cost
of Express shipping would have added another $300-400! We thought about having them
air freighted with American Airlines (cheaper), but recent events made this cumbersome at
best. The US post had a great rate too, but delays in the States and bureaucracy in
Argentina made that option unpredictable at best.
Introduce Sebastian, a m/c enthusiast from BA and an offer to help. He operates www.PatagoniaMotorcycles.com which run m/c
tours through Patagonia in southern Argentina. When not on the road, though, he is a
flight attendant for American Airlines.
Next, Frank Nalevaiko and David Park from NYC nail down the final details to have the
parts arrive in Miami this weekend where Sebastian will arrive on Monday and bring back to
BA next Wednesday. There were many others who offered help/suggestions -- thanks to
Our plan was to be in Ushuaia (southernmost city in the world) for Xmas, where we would
also meet Frank & Rosa Nalevaiko a few days later. Now it looks like we'll meet
in Rio Gallegos, 600km north of Ushuaia, at the end of December, then ride down to Ushuaia
together for New Year's Eve.
Saturday, Dec 15th: Attended a BMW motorbike gathering with about 70 riders
in attendance great asado and again, really nice people!
Sunday, Dec 16th: Another asado, this time with a local group of riders who
spend a lot of time riding in/around Patagonia. Sebastian had sent out an email to a local
m/c chat group, and about 15 bikes turned up for the occasion. A terrific afternoon,
relaxing and pouring over maps in the grass. On the way home, crossed the 100,000km mark
on this journey!
Tuesday, Dec 18th: We're back at Cordasco to meet Simon Birinder, a
friendly journalist for the Buenos Aires Herald, who has come to do an interview and take
photos. (see the article -- Buenos Aires Herald).
Wednesday, Dec 19th: Pick up the parts from Sebastian, no problem. Get to
the shop. Theres a problem finding shims for the new valve seats. Takes 4 hours and
still no shims. Chris is getting anxious to get things moving. Another drama: Willy tries
to put the engine block back together and accidentally shears off one of the engine bolts.
The guys call around and find a guy to come over in the morning to get the end piece of
the bolt out of the engine. Stop at Marianos place on the way home to tell him the
situation. He invites us home for pizza. Great, dreamy discussion about going into
business together renting bikes out of a m/c hotel in Bariloche.
Things are getting out of hand with social disruption and anarchy in BA and around the
country. The government locked all Argentine back accounts last week and limited people to
only taking out a maximum of $250/week. That means very little money to spend during the
week. For those with credit cards (which only the wealthy have) it's not so much of a
problem (you can buy groceries, gas, etc. with a credit care), but for the poor (which is
most of the country) people are getting hit hard. 50% of the economy here is black market,
which means they only deal in cash. Lots of people have lost their jobs. 12 years
ago the government defaulted on its loans to the IMF and other institutions. It froze all
personal and commercial bank accounts to pay its loans and never gave the money back to
the people. The government effectively stole money from its own people. At first I
didnt believe the story, but I heard it from several credible people. You can
understand why people are edgy here.
Today, some poor and people out of work went on a bit of a rampage and stole food from a
market. Unfortunately some other unsavory people took the opportunity and joined them to
steal TVs, VCR's, stereos, etc. Last night while we were driving home (around 11pm)
it seemed like all the neighborhood was out on the main avenue (Maipu) marching, shouting
and banging pots and pans. They were just ordinary people, not thieves, out protesting
against the government in the only way they knew how.
Interesting situation but don't think it will get out of hand, at least not while we are
Thursday, Dec 20th: Chris gets to the "shim guy" early and gets
special treatment. They do the work, give him a hat (why do people always give us hats?),
and didnt charge him for the work. Thats par for the course so far in
Argentina (or at least BA). The guys at the shop get the engine bolt problem all sorted
out. By the end of the afternoon they are putting the whole bike back together. Chris
gives Marcelo a ride home and has problems with the fuel. It was a bit low on gas. They
have to push the bike 10 blocks to find a petrol station. Bike runs well after that.
We have a final farewell dinner with Eva, Gyozo, Andres and family. Discussion at the
table is whether it is safer for us to leave on Friday (today) or Saturday because there
is a general strike on Friday. Trixie tells us the death toll is now 16 people killed in
the rioting around the country. Apparently its really bad in Cordoba, Argentinas
second city further to the north.