Yes, here I am writing this story on Christmas day.
"Why?" you may ask, as I could be sitting on the beach right now
enjoying the fact that I have nothing to do. Well, its been a long 2 weeks since we
first arrived back in Buenos Aires. We discovered more things wrong with the bikes
(i.e. Chris' bike needed a new piston, cylinder, rings and seals, and my bike had an oil
leak and fuel line problem).
Saturday, Dec 22nd: We finished packing the bikes, getting packages ready to
send home and spare parts/tires from NZ to go to Mendoza. At around 10am we finally got
our gear on and were ready to leave. Gyozo was there to see us off, and invited us back to
use his apartment anytime we wanted. Also, Gabriel came by to bid us farewell. He had
hoped to ride down to Azul with us (300km south), but when backing his bike out of the
garage early in the morning, it decided it needed a few more minutes sleep. The result was
a broken clutch lever and gear shifter -- making it impossible for him to ride that day.
And so we joined the racing circuit of the highway southeast out of Buenos Aires --
they really are all frustrated Formula 1 drivers here! We rode slowly for 650km to Bahia
Blanca. Chris new piston and cylinder needed to be broken-in gently. At mid-day, we
stopped for fuel, and after the normal barrage of questions from on-lookers, a man asked
us to wait one moment -- he walked to the trunk of his car, pulled out a bottle of red
wine, and presented us with his gift -- we had talked to him for all of one minute before
this, what generosity!!!
After several hours driving in the lonely countryside which is typical of the Pampa
area we finally reached Sierra de la Ventana (mountain of the window.) This small but
distinguished mountain range rises up out of nowhere and then disappears just as quickly.
The mountains get their name from a hole in the rock at the top of one of the peaks.
Luckily for us the road goes right up over it. This provided us with a much-needed
distraction and something to enjoy about the riding that day.
Shortly thereafter we finally arrived in Bahia Blanca - it was under a dark cloud. We
were immediately hit with a mean cold wind filled with choking dirt and smoke from some
nearby fire. We quickly decided not to stay there for the night and to push further
another 120km south to Pedro Luna where we discovered a beautiful campground/vacation spot
called La Salada (the salad??). It was a man-made lake protected from the heavy winds by
trees and the surrounding small hills. We arrived just in time to see the beautiful sunset
and pitch our tent before it got dark, about 9pm. The days were getting noticeably longer.
Sunday, Dec 23rd: So in the first day, we rode over 500km between
4,000-4,500rpms to break in the new engine. Sunday we added another 550km (and 500rpms) to
arrive in Puerto Madryn. The ride was reminiscent of travelling in Western Australia -- a
whole lot of nothing! Chris thinks the bike has more power, and rides much smoother than
before. The new windshield Mariano (Motocare) installed was a Godsend -- the wind-gusts of
Patagonia are continuous, and our necks and shoulders are a bit sore from all the
turbulence, not to mention the enormous amount of bug-splats on our windscreens! We
haven't been blown completely off the road yet (a very real threat) , but heard it was
pretty bad only a few days ago.
After checking into the campground in Puerto Madryn, 3 bikers showed up: Alberto from
Mexico, Karl (Carlos) from Germany, and Miguel, a local rider who enjoys meeting foreign
motorbike travellers. Miguel loves riding off-road and meeting people, and decided to
convert a spare space he had into a room for travellers. He and his friends created a
riding club: "Huellas del Sur" ~ which converts roughly to treads/trails of the
south. He also plays rugby (big #5), so he and Chris had much to talk about!
We went by his place in the evening and met Alex (Alejandro) and Annette (Anita), 2 more
|Miguel asked us to post his information, and for those of you
interested to please contact him:
Juan B Justo 889
(9120) Puerto Madryn-Chubut
Patagonia - Argentina
Telefono:+54 (0) 2965 451327 /1555 8654
GPS: S 42• 46´34,1" W 65•02´19,2"
Monday, Dec 24th: Chris and I spent the day doing what visitors do here:
drive around the Peninsula Valdez. It is a big national park chock full with wildlife. The
big attraction are the whales (which we didnt see), the penguinos (penguins which we
didnt see either), the seals (los lobos which we saw) and sea lions (los elefantes
which we also saw). The road is mostly gravel and we were covered in white powdery dirt at
the end of the day. The national park did not disappoint us. We saw heaps of seals and sea
lions as well as other very interesting animals: guanacos (like llamas with less fur), a
small gray fox, a small armadillo, nandus (which are like small ostriches), lizards
and an bichu (a strange looking animal that looks like a cross between a rabbit and a
After several hours out on the peninsula it was time to get back and cleaned up for a
Christmas party. On the way, we met Miguel's close friend Martin with his girlfriend
Maria. They invited us to the same party -- small world!! Before we left for
the party, Chris presented me with his Christmas present, a lovely ceramic and stone
necklace he found in Termas de Guaviyu in Uruguay. It is just lovely. I felt like a heel
of course because I didnt get him anything!
Jaime, a friend of Miguels and a member of their local m/c club invited all of us
travellers over for a Christmas BBQ and some entertainment. We each contributed a whole
chicken and some drinks. They provided the side dishes and the fireworks. The food was
fantastic as we ate in their backyard under the stars. After dinner (actually during
dinner!), Alberto (representing Mexico) brought out the Tequila and started making strong
drinks for everyone. At midnight we all went down to the beach in the center of town and
set off fireworks. Everyone else in town seemed to be doing the same thing. By about
12:30am the streets were packed with cars and people ready to party. One after another
bottles of champagne was opened and before we knew it, it was 2:30am! As some of the
others were going to party longer, we decided to call it a night and wished everyone a
very merry Christmas.
Tuesday, Dec 25th: Christmas day. We slept until 11am. One of the most
gorgeous Christmas days Ive ever seen. Weather is just perfect, warm, sunny,
on the beach. Miguel, Jamie, his wife and boys, Martin and Maria, Alberto and us just
hanging out watching the action on the beach for awhile.