Sunday, 26 January 2014

277 Into Patagonia

Monday 20th Jan 2013
Miles Today 274 Total  36,328
The long slog south starts today. After the Rally our aim is to get to and through Patagonia and then to Buenas Airies for out trip home so the order of the day is head down, arse up and go. Nothing of note today except miles of boring motorway.

Tuesday 21st Jan 2013
Miles Today 215 Total  36,543
We stopped for fuel and a cup of coffee at a Gasolinera. Whilst there, another biker pulled in for fuel, saw our UK plate and walked over to introduce himself. Brian Montague, from Dublin. He was a bloody nice chap and was on a Patagonia trip too. It was good to chat with a like minded guy for a while. At the same time a group of Brazilian riders came in. They were all with wives and on big bikes. They were en route to Ushuaia, the most Southerly city in the world. Again we chatted briefly and discussed itineraries as is the norm with bikers.
We drove further south and could see a definite German influence creeping in. So much so that we found a German restaurant and despite many pleas, they did not have currywurst, so I had settle for bratwurst and chips. Never the less it was wonderful.
We popped into a town called Temuco and bought some oil for Wallace's last change.
We ended our days travel at a town called Osorno, sadly soaking wet and a bit fed up. We had been warned about the wet weather by the Brazilians earlier.
 We found a small hotel with parking for Wallace. I asked if I could change Wallace's oil in the hotel car park and they even sought out a bowl to drain it into. Would that happen in the UK. No!
We were so tired we did not even bother with dinner and went to bed.

Wednesday 22nd Jan 2014
Miles Today 150 Total  36,693
Today we set off fairly early for our last border crossing. It was about 130km to the border and despite a clear start, the weather closed in very quickly. By the time we reached the border we were soaked and it was freezing cold. We had most of our kit on already and had not anticipated such cold weather in the height of summer and had (Ray), sent our heated gear back to the UK previously. The lonely Planet guide warned us of overheating and dust storms. We have been dogged by inclement weather for all of this trip so I suppose we should have anticipated it.  Doh!

Andean Ibis'

The vegetation has now changed to that akin to the UK in the summer.

Could be Surrey aside from the sign post.

The Lake district of Patagonia has started.

Its been wet lately as we well know.

One of the Caraca family.

Anyway, the exit border from Chile was actually 20km before the actual frontier. The exit was very quick and simple and there were signs telling you where to go and more importantly, in what order. Chile was a very westernized and organised place. We like it a lot.
After crossing the mountain pass and watershed of the Andes and into Argentine territory, we had another 13km ride to their border post. Here we met the Brazilians from the day before. It was not surprising really as there is only one road South. The border crossing was again very quick and efficient. The number of staff and sensible signage helping again. We set off  and left the Brazilians behind but they soon caught us up as I was driving very cautiously.
The rain was still very heavy and the road down the side of the Andes was windy and wet. Sadly, the dork that controlled the mixture for the road surfacing decided it would be a good idea to increase the amount of bitumen in the mix and as time has gone on, the bitumen had risen to the surface to form a very efficient bob sleigh run instead of a road. We were riding at only 25 or 30 mph and slower on the bends when the rear of the bike became twitchy as though I had a puncture. I slowed even more and said to Karen, “I think we may have a puncture”. 30 seconds later, we were halfway around a right hand bend when Wallace’s back wheel slid sideways. I kicked it back up and it just fell over onto the left side and we were all sliding merrily down the hill on the smooth bitumen. Wallace came to a halt on the opposite soft verge and Karen and I came to a halt in the middle of the road. Me on my bum and Karen on her hands and knees. We both quickly got up and aside from bumps and braises were in good fettle. Neither of us were looking forward to the adrenalin wearing
We were immediately joined by the Brazilians who had also commented on the slippery surface (they spoke good English). The helped up pick Wallace up and were extremely helpful and attentive. So much so that they insisted on waiting for us and rode with us till we got to the bottom of the mountain. Again, the good people of South America have shown us their worth.
Wallace had lost one of his metal boxes and after a bit of kicking at the mechanism it was good enough to put back on. I had holed my waterproof trousers and we both had bitumen stains on our jackets. They would normally have been worn away by road stone, sadly today there was little to be seen, hence our little tumble.
Wallace was remarkably unscathed. Aside from scratches on the crash bars and a small dent in one of the foot pegs there was no damage whatsoever.
I got back on to test the basic functions and absolutely nothing was amiss. It seems that the Ray school of crash bar manufacture is now certificated. Wohoo.
We both got back on and with the Brazilians as escort, gingerly finished off the crappy stretch of tarmac. Thanks guys.

It is funny, that we both have a slightly different recollection of the crash.  I don't remember any conversation at that time, although I do remember it from earlier in the day.  I was very aware that it was super slippy out there and I knew it had gone seriously wrong when the back slid off one way, so that we would land on our right side, but then flipped back and very gracefully, we landed on our left side.  Not the most appealing thing for me, as my left shoulder had only just got itself sorted from being broken.  However,  I don't really remember  touch down, but I did get a clean sweep with the medals, I slid the fastest, the longest and flipped from my back to my front in one continuous movement with thanks to adrenalin (normally I would do this with a lot of huffing, puffing and flailing of limbs).   Ray was up and about, I joined him and thank goodness we were all fine and the bike not too bad, poor old Wallace.  As Ray said we were then joined by the other riders who helped us, but in all honesty, right at that moment the last thing I wanted to do was get back on the bike, but it is probably a good thing I did.  In a split second of sliding along the road, I must have had a dozen thoughts, one of them being, having watched super bikes, and when they crash, the riders try to stay in the same position till they stop, and also thinking, I don't know where I am in the road, I've got to get out of the way of other traffic.  Anyway, the shock set in later, and the bruises started to shout, but all in all we were very lucky, and we can still finish off the trip and my shoulder is fine despite the fall.  

We got to the next village, Valle La Angostura, and went in search of a hotel. It was earlier than we wanted but we were wet and pissed off so an early day seemed appropriate. Sadly, there was a small army of bikers all looking for beds in a village that was clearly full to capacity already. We ran into some Australian bikers who had rented bikes here. They were having the same trouble as us. We all then decided to ride to the next city, San Carlos De Bariloche. We left first and with haste telling the Auzzies that we wanted to beat them to it. Fortunately they laughed, there was a lot more of them !!
We got to Bariloche and on the way there the weather broke and the sun came out. The difference was incredible. The place was absolutely beautiful. We were now in Patagonia’s lake district.

The weather was starting to brake. At last.

We found a hotel after about the fifth attempt and they could accommodate Wallace too. Bonus !
We occupied our room and went next door the Rock Chicken restaurant. Aside from chicken they also had Stella Artois beer in liter bottles and at only £1.75 a bottle. If anything could cheer us up it was this. Wohoo again. We popped some Ibuprofen to stop us whining about our bruises and we were well away.
We were not long going to bed, we were knackered, sore and just a bit fed up, especially me – I felt guilty about dropping Wallace but Karen kept telling me not to be stupid. Come to think of it, she does that a lot.

Thursday 23rd Jan 2014
Miles Today 0 Total  36,693
We awoke late, missed breakfast aside from grabbing a coffee for our room and decided to stay another day. We needed to chill out a bit, we have ridden some long days recently and yesterdays fall has left us both with aches and pains. Again, nothing serious, but deliberate movements bought on niggling muscle aches. In retrospect, it was a good idea as we went into town for a walk. The town was beautiful. It was a ski resort in their winter and for what it looked like, we could have been sat in Europe somewhere during the European summer. The only downside was that the cold snap had bought the snow to the mountains about 3 months early and it was bloody freezing.

Karen in the town center of Bariloche.

Graffitti sucks...   everywhere.

Last nights rain fell as snow on the pass we came through.

Zig Zag road like in San Francisco.

The Tyrolean (Austrian) bar.

We had a heart to heart and decided to give Wallace and us a rest for the next few days. On looking at the map, to get to where we wanted to go was a one way trip of over 900 miles and we were running out of time so we decided to try and hire a car as it was easy to do ridiculous mileages in a car that would not be thinkable on Wallace. Aside from that we know that the journey includes hundreds of miles of punishing dirt roads. Easy enough solo but when 2 up it was a lot harder.  On top of that Wallace would need a new rear tyre for the trip, about £180 here and we could also sleep in the car to save ourselves some of the hire costs. Add to this the fact that the weather was about 10C colder than normal. It was a no brainer, after all we are here to enjoy the place, not endure it.
The only other thing I needed to do today was to get some obligatory insurance for Wallace. We tried yesterday at our first village but the offices were all closed so it had to be done today. I was not risking being a Brit and being stopped by the Argentine police for misbehaving. The political situation between Britain and Argentina is the worst it has been since the Falklands war in 1992.
I had a lot of running around to do but sorted it in the end. 200 pesos, about £18.
On the way back from the insurers I found pub land. Austrian,  Irish, Scandinavian and others. Guess where we went to finish the day off !

Friday 24th Jan 2014  525m
Miles Today 525  Total  37,218
Following an early night we woke early, in time for a crap breakfast in fact. We are so looking forward to getting home to a good old fashioned English breakfast.
We checked out quickly and rode to the airport to try and get a car. We know we would be struggling. Having tried on-line to hire a car, they were either sold out or only had expensive 4x4’s available. We were in luck. An English couple were at the AVIS desk waiting to check a cheap car in. We took the dirty car as was for £266. Normally there is a 200km per day limit but we managed to get it with unlimited mileage. We did not tell him we would be bringing it back in 5 days with 3000km more on the clock. 
We parked Wallace as secure as possible in and AVIS bay, took all our gear off and headed into the hills at 10:30am. It was a long day and even accounting for the dirt roads, we managed to clock up over 500 miles. We found a campsite in Perito Moreno (this name is used a lot around here) at around 10:30pm, got our sleeping bags out and I fell asleep curled up in the driver’s seat in seconds, much to Karen’s annoyance. 

The Patagonian scenery was vast and beautiful. But after 1000 miles even this gets boring.

A real Argentinian Gaucho. 

These were everywhere. 

A Scottish connection ??

Will you stop this beast so I can get off....

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