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 Ariels 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
Saturday, March 16th: Its 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 nights gang meandered in, and it took another two
hours to say good-bye. Juan Carlos would only accept money for the welders charge,
and for the bottle of oil we needed. We called Ariel (who didnt 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).
Christinas 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 Ariels finca, his brothers finca, and his parents finca.
All grow a variety of grapes (the local crop), plus a huge assortment of fruits and nuts.
Theres nothing like fresh fruit directly off a tree! The kids were moved around, and
again we slept in Ariel and Christinas bed.
Back at Ariels for dinner guess were 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. Its 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
Ariels 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 dont
stay another day, as he really wanted to fix Erins 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 Elys
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
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