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

March 20, 2002...2 years + 10 months -- we may be here forever!

Credit to Rafael = Hotel California

-- Story by Chris --

Thursday, March 14th: After breakfast, Ariel took us into town to see his friends at Moto Sport, the local Honda shop. The head mechanic, Miguel, is BMW trained and services the F650GS police bikes in town. Juan Carlos, the owner, comes over and tells us his shop is at our disposal. We pull out the damaged shock, and began to discuss options. The shock needed to be disassembled before welding, and they didn't have the right tools at the shop.  Noon is quickly upon us, and as all shops in this part of Argentina close from 12-4pm, we stopped back to Ariel’s place, then over to his friend Pablo's house for an asado. The lunch was a meat-lovers dream, as usual, and we got to meet the whole family including grandma, Pablo's parents, his siblings and a few cousins. 

If we couldn't repair the shock, we would ride to Mendoza on one bike, pull the shock, I would return (250kms) by bus, install the good shock, and ride the second bike to Mendoza.  Not the most fun, but certainly not the worst option...

At 4:30, we returned to the shop, and found Miguel and his friend Raul (a customer/former mechanic) had disassembled the shock by using a hydraulic press (not an easy task, I assure you).  We took the shock (minus spring) to a local welder, who said in English it would be ready around 8pm. Back at the shop, the guys wanted to invite us for an asado dinner, but asked if we could do it the following night. We had planned to leave Friday morning, but decided that everyone was being just too friendly, and that we would stay. We checked into a hosteria around the corner, and slept until 10am!

Friday, March 15th: The shock was reassembled and installed back in the bike. It was about 6pm and we had some time to kill before the asado -- Miguel and Raul really wanted to repair the "click" in my steering head bearings. We pulled off the front end, and found the lower set of bearings was damaged. US$5 for a replacement set of bearings at the local bearing shop, and we got the whole thing back together just before dark. It turns out that Raul and his wife own a pizza shop, and Ely came by around 9pm with pizza and empeņadas to tie us over until the 11pm asado (dinner in Argentina is very late). We thought it would be a small gathering in the lot of the shop, and before long there were two dozen friends and family members. It was a fun night, and we learned lots of new local terms that would offend my mother. Around 2am, as things were winding down, Juan Carlos informed he had arranged a TV interview the next morning, and we had to be back at the shop around 9am (only 7 hours away). It took another hour before we could pull away from the group, as we dashed back to the hosteria for some much needed beauty rest.

Saturday, March 16th: It’s 9am, the shop is open, but none of our compadres from last night are here! They all promised! The TV guys showed up, and did a terrific job of reviewing all the questions before they began filming. Just as the interview was over, some of last night’s gang meandered in, and it took another two hours to say good-bye. Juan Carlos would only accept money for the welder’s charge, and for the bottle of oil we needed. We called Ariel (who didn’t show up last night), and said we would like to come by to say farewell before heading up to Mendoza. We arrived around 1pm, and found a lunchtime feast waiting for us (so much for the 20-minute stop). Christina’s brother Oscar came ‘round with his horse, and I went for a quick ride around the yard. Those gaucho saddles are extremely comfy!

After lunch, Ariel insisted we see his finca (farm), it would only take a short while, and we were keen to see some of the famous local vineyards. The hours quickly slipped by as we toured Ariel’s finca, his brother’s finca, and his parent’s finca. All grow a variety of grapes (the local crop), plus a huge assortment of fruits and nuts. There’s nothing like fresh fruit directly off a tree! The kids were moved around, and again we slept in Ariel and Christina’s bed.

Back at Ariel’s for dinner – guess we’re not getting to Mendoza today. Their friends Walter and Lucy came for (yet another) asado, this one included humita, a dish similar to polenta, made with corn we picked from the finca early in the day. The group insisted we come the following day to visit the Valle Grande, and we pleaded that we needed to get to Mendoza. They asked what the rush was, that we could go to Mendoza first thing Monday morning.

Sunday, March 17th: Of course, we took the beautiful ride out to the canyon. This is a major holiday spot for locals of San Rafael, and even Mendoza. The fast flowing river zips by countless campgrounds and holiday resorts, all surrounded within the narrow canyon. It’s a wonderful spot, and obvious why so many people come. It was a small group of family and friends, and we set up our asado, practiced juggling, took walks, and rode up to the dam a few kilometers away. It was a wonderful afternoon, and we returned to Ariel’s at dark, and all went to bed early.

Monday, March 18th: The weather was gloomy outside, and it took a while to pack the bikes. Ariel returned from the finca, as the light rain made harvesting the grapes impossible. For the next month, he will use his truck to deliver his grapes to the Bodega. We had a hearty farewell, and rode into town to say goodbye to Christina. We were 2 blocks from Moto Sport, so went by for another farewell. Miguel asked why we don’t stay another day, as he really wanted to fix Erin’s fork seals. He even offered to clear a spot in the yard where we could pitch our tent! Juan Carlos agreed, then Raul showed up and said we should spend the night at his place. We thanked them all, traded hugs and farewells, and headed out of town.

So here we are in a town we never would have bothered to stop in, with several new friends and being treated like royalty, or family, all because of a breakdown.

WAIT -- Not so fast!!!! It was lunchtime, and we wanted to eat something before the 240km ride to Mendoza. We stopped at a pizza shop, and placed our order. While waiting for a quick takeaway meal, Raul, Ely, and the kids came through the door – Ely’s brother owned this pizza shop! When our order was ready, Ely simply grabbed it off the counter, climbed into her car with the family, and we followed them back to their house. The kids were off from school from 1:30-2:30, and everyday they have lunch together at the house.

On the way I realized this was just like the old Eagles song: "Hotel California – You can check out any time you like, but you can, never leave…."


Erin with Ariel, Christina, and Asmet (little Dafne was sleeping)

Miguel, Raul, and Juan Carlos -- at Moto Sport

Pablo (left) with his parents and siblings

Hola, Cris!

Christina's brother Oscar comes by for a visit

AR.SanRafael.HorseRide1.JPG (23660 bytes) AR.SanRafael.HorseRide2.JPG (15051 bytes)

Ariel and his brother, working on the finca

Vine Ripened!

Chris teaching Ariel how to juggle

Up on top of the dam


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