-- Story by Chris --
Thursday, March 7th: Got a late start as it had
stormed all night and was still raining in the morning. About 80km south of El Bolson, we
saw a larger German Shepard running down the road in the left lane, the same direction as
us. He was going full-tilt, and when he didn't even gaze at us as we passed, we knew
something was not right. In the distance was an old rickity pickup truck, carrying
large fuel drums. I eventually caught up with the guy, flagged him down, and asked
if he owned a dog. He peared into the back, and not seeing his canine friend,
immediately pulled over, thanked us, and headed back the other way. We couldn't
believe the guy lost his dog, and had a good laugh! Drove back to Bariloche and
arrived in the early evening. Checked into a youth hostel.
Friday, March 8th: Rained all night and was
pouring in the morning. Everyone in the hostel milled about inside all day, alternating
between watching cable TV and reading. Just after lunch we noticed two motorbikers (a guy
and a girl) arriving in the rain, soaking wet. The guy looks at the bike, then at me, and
says, "hey, hello Chris". I am starring at a stranger. For some
reason, I say, "Mika?" He replies, "yes!" Wow -- talk
about a small world!!!! We met only once before, in Goa, India, back around
Christmas 1999. After India, he headed north to Russia, through Siberia and Mongolia
to Japan, SE Asia, then Australia, and arrived in BsAs a month ago. Along the way,
he met Damaris, and they travelled through Australia together. They realised that
travelling 2-up on Mika's Teneree 600 wasn't comfortable for either of them, so when they
arrived in BsAs Damari got herself a Honda XR200. We spent the rest of the day/night
inside, swapping stories over coffee and dinner.
Saturday, March 9th: The weather has finally
cleared and the sun is shining bright. I find Chiwi, a local mechanic who I'm told can
help me. Within 5 minutes of arriving at the shop, we have the shock out (some
things I am just really good at). Chiwi takes the shock to his friend, the aluminum
welder, and they weld the broken bit back on (Always keep the broken parts!!!).
Chiwi claims the part is as good as new, and that the weld will hold until
the end of our journey. I appreciate his optimism, but will make arrangements to
replace the bracket with an original part, just to be sure. (Robert Taylor of
Ohlins/Hawera MC in New Zealand is already working to get us the parts).
Sunday, March 10th: The bikes are packed and we
say farewell to Mika and Damaris -- or at leat, until the next time! We head
northwest, back towards Villa la Angostura and the scenic Siete Lagos Calle (Seven Lakes
Drive). Wow! what a beautiful ride -- long sweeping curves around aqua-blue lakes,
with snow-capped mountains completing the backdrop! Our destination for the day was
San Martin de los Andes, another ski-resort town highly recommended by Argentinians.
About 50 km short of town, we stopped at Lago Faulkner to soak up the views.
It looked so clean, calm, and peaceful, that we pulled over and set up camp on the edge of
the lake. Away from city lights, the night sky was like a black carpet after someone
spilled a jar of salt -- lots of stars!!
Monday, March 11th: Rather than the scenic
vista we planned to wake to, the lake was covered with fog, and the ground had a coating
of frost. Yes, we froze last night, and were a little grumpy. I had to laugh,
though, as we planned for a picture-perfect morning, and got something quite different.
Hey, ya win some, ya lose some. Another late start as we waited for the sun
to burn off the fog, and to get some circulation back in the fingers. We arrived in
San Martin de los Andes around 1pm, and picked up some supplies at the supermercado.
A short ride back to the lake, and we made lunch on a nearby wall. It wasn't
long before the Jacetas Amarrillos (yellow jackets) came for lunch too.
The bees were swarming everywhere, and our pleasant lunch
quickly went awry. Erin has never been stung by a bee, before today that is.
One of the criters slipped unnoticed into her ham sandwich, and when she bit into it, he
bit back -- on her tongue! We quickly applied some salt and anti-inflamatory
medicine. The rest of the afternoon left her with a sore mouth, but by early evening
the swelling was down and she is feeling better -- thankfully!!!! We arrived at a
campground next to Lago Amumine, some 200 kms north of San Martin, and pitched our tent on
Oops, dinners ready, gotta go!
Damaris and Mika, fellow overlanders
A beautiful spot along Lago Faulkner
Enjoying the local custom -- a mid-day siesta!
Beautiful morning scenery
The clouds begin to lift
We warm up enough to make some breakfast
By 10:00 am, it's another glorious day!