Thursday, 6 February 2014

282 On our way home...

Wednesday 5th Feb 2014

Miles Today 20 Total miles 39,963

I caught the train into Buenos Aires to attend the shipping office and pay for Wallace's flight home. After getting off the train I fired up my GPS and it took me straight across a park. What happened next then left me in tears. I walked straight into the Argentine shrine to their soldiers that died in the Falklands.
It was a huge wall with a large stainless steel emblem of The Malvinas. On the wall were the names of all 649 soldiers that died in the conflict in 1982. Had I planned or know of the shrine I would have been mentally prepared but stumbling across it, hit me like a train. I was a young soldier involved in the war and along with my mates, had a fox hole in the ground in San Carlos Bay and dodged the bombs from the Argentine Mirages.
I gazed upon the shrine with extreme sadness at the unnecessary loss of life instigated by one man, General Galtieri, the Military leader at the time, who wound his country up into a fever pitch to divert their attention from the financial crisis the country was in at the time. A similar situation to what they are in now and their current female Prime Minister has recently tried to do the same via political means at the UN and lost following a referendum of all the islands inhabitants.

The shrine to 'The Malvinas'
What really pushed me over the edge was the fact that I helped bury many of the people named on this wall in makeshift graves. All young men like myself going to war for one mans popularity crisis. War is never a good thing but it is sometimes necessary to ward off aggressors. This was one such occasion.

There are names on this wall that I helped bury. Very sad ans unnecessary.

After composing myself I proceeded to the office to pay for Wallace's ticket home. I again met Arun there and we spent the rest of the morning together bouncing from place to place to finalise the admin. At around 1pm we were both given our Air Waybills and the deed was done.
I tried to bet the train back home but for some reason, that I later found out to be a large explosion that had killed 9 Bombero's (Firemen - RIP) the trains were disrupted. I caught a cab back and we them went out to our local Irish bar and booked our flights home for the next day. Karen was ecstatic. We now knew when we were going home.
Thursday 6th Feb 2014

Miles Today 22 Total miles 39,985
After final packing I wandered down to the local train station, hailed a cab then went back to collect Karen and our luggage. We were now on our way home. The trip to the airport was awful.It was hammering with rain and for once I was glad Wallace was cosy and warm in a cargo bay. 
Once in the airport we checked our luggage in and went straight through to departures. 
Again I saw a monument to the dead soldiers of The Malvinas, this time a photo of the actual burial ground at Darwin, the site of one of the fiercest battles for the islands. 

A suitable fitting and probably long overdue. The Darwin Cemetery.
In 2009, the British Government allowed the Argentina to build a shrine and associated graves on the Islands and also allowed the relatives to visit for the first time.

We are off to catch our flight to the UK now and look forward to a proper English breakfast in a greasy spoon cafe in the morning.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

281 The final days in Beunos Aires

Sunday 2nd Feb 2014
Miles Today 0 Total  39,875
We spent today getting our gear and Wallace sorted out. I had to clear any non bike related stuff out of the panniers and do little things like remove the Post Office van headrest that Karen has been using for the last 10 month as a back rest. I also needed to figure out the best way to make Wallace's packed volume as small as possible. By this I mean lowering the screen etc and figuring the best way to make him (Her - sorry Karen !) as compact as possible. I will probably remove the screen, handle bars and front wheel when we take him to the airport for shipping on Tuesday. Wallace looks really small now compared to when he was loaded up.

Like Wallace only smaller.

Mid afternoon we went in search of food and sadly as it was Sunday and holiday season most places were shut but we did find this place but the name of the place had us worried.

The MUKY restaurant.....

However, the food was good and for some reason, after ordering barbecued ribs, when I had nearly finished the ribs another portion was served up. My Spanish was not good enough to figure out why but the meal ended up being enormous. Look at the pile of clean ribs in the middle and stack still to be eaten.

Mountains of food.

Still we finished most of it then drowned it in wine..

Wine makes you smile...

It was not too far from the river Plate so we walked another mile to the rivers edge. Where we in for a shock.....

The place was more like a garbage tip than a river bank.

Fortunately the bird life redeemed the place somewhat. Green Parrots everywhere.

These things are so noisy you cannot fail to spot them.

A long walk back via a bar and it was time for bed.

Monday 3rd Feb 2014
Miles Today 10 Total 39,885
I had to attend 'Dakar Motos' today to arrange Wallace's shipping. Dakar Motos is a small business that is well known in the adventure biking world for assisting bikers with shipments and just about anything else they may need.
I got there before the arranged time, met the owners, Sandra and Javier, and then decided it would probably be a good idea to ride back to the hotel to collect the paperwork I needed. God I can be stupid sometimes.

Javier, Sandra and the Gringo  -  thanks Javier ;-)

Anyway, with paperwork in hand Sandra checked that all was well. Apparently there is one border crossing where they accidentally or deliberately put the chassis or engine numbers on the import papers incorrectly and it causes mayhem when bikers try to get their bikes back out of the country. I paid them the appropriate fee, $1000 ARG, about  £77. For this they make all the arrangements and I just need to turn up to do the rest.

Once back at the hotel we went for some food to a very nice little restaurant where I asked for Lomo and Champinones (Beef steak and mushrooms).  The  beef that turned up was enormous, about 1+1/2" thick and 6x6" square. It was delicious and the fat boy ate the lot.

Not a cut of meat, a paving slab of it.
Tuesday 4th Feb 2014
Miles Today 58 Total miles 39,943
Today's main mission was to buy Karen some shoes to match her handbag. The other small matter that needed attending to was the need to take Wallace to the airport for his trip home. We decided to sort Wallace out first so we could spend the remainder of the day shoe shopping. 
We set off at around 9:30 and popped into Dakar Motos on the way to the airport. Sandra's directions and instructions were perfect and in no time we were in their cargo bay and Wallace was on the scales. With jackets and helmets he weighed 315kg.  
Once at the cargo bay there was another Indian Guy named Arun, sorting his BMW for shipping. I was aware he would be there and had been warned by Sandra that he may need some help. I was gob smacked at his lack of motorcycle mechanical knowledge. I am not being unkind, on the contrary. He is one brave guy to take on a trip from Alaska to Ushuaia with absolutely zero mechanical knowledge. He had tools but did not know how to use them. He did not even know how to remove the front wheel. The man had covered about 30 thousand miles on this bike with only being able to ride it. A nutter and a hero.
With the help of the shipping company we squeezed Wallace into the smallest space possible. Removing the front wheel, mudguard, screen and handlebars did the trick. he now looks pathetically small.... The smaller we can get him the cheaper the shipping cost is. Turns out that it was US $1,940 (15,560 pesos), to be paid tomorrow in the city center.

Where does this bit go ???
Check out the 'jobsworth' in the background griping about Karen taking photo's.

Oi, no photography....  Naughty Karen....
 Once Wallace was palleted he was scooped up by the forklift and taken away for 'scanning'. Apparently they test for drugs, explosives, the usual stuff.
He was then wrapped in plastic cling film - really, and then taken from us for the next few days. It was a sad and glad time for us. We were sorry to see our faithful and reliable friend handed over to people who will not care for him in the least and we are glad as the final (almost) step in our trip is complete and we can relax a bit.
We then caught a cab into town with Aaron and separated once there. We then went shopping for shoes. How I love doing this.....
After browsing in what seemed like a hundred shoe shops, we went back to the first shop and bought 2 pairs. Sadly I am not joking.
The city was, unsurprisingly, very colonial and their architecture is very similar to ours in the UK.

Congress Plaza.

When we had had enough, we caught a cab to the main train station and once on the platform, we saw this. There are marks on the platform that passengers queue up behind to enter the door in the right place. When the train pulled in the passengers getting off were unhindered and just filed off through the queues of those waiting to get on. It was surreal and could teach us a lesson.

The queues for the door. Brilliant.

Once off the train, it was a quick visit to the local Irish bar without Irish beer and then back to out hostel.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

280 Across Argentina

Friday 31st Jan 2014
Miles Today 458 Total 39,646
Today we covered, if I recall correctly, the most miles we have done on Wallace. It was a bum numbing ride but the more we got done today, the less we had to finish the journey off tomorrow.

The day started out cloudy and quite cold and overcast, so much so that we put our jumpers on to start the day. A relatively cold 23C.  After the first 70 miles we found a petrol station and as we were going to cross so desolate areas, we filled up. Whist there this little fellow was bouncing around at our feet and Karen did what she does best and snapped him up.

We think this is a female Cowbird, she was certainly friendly enough.

After a couple of hours the clouds cleared and the day heated up. It was now jumpers off and the temperature rose to 34C. It was now hot...
At around 2pm we found a McDonalds and as appears to be the norm here, the burgers were like cardboard. Very dry and hard to digest. Sad really, we have a liking for them and I have a belly to prove it.

In Britain, it would be a few swans and some mallards, here flamingo's.

We stopped after about 400 miles and as it was still only about 5:30 decided to put some more miles in and pushed it to 458. We now needed to stop. Our bums were sore and we were tired. We ended up at a place called Pehuajo, and no, we can't pronounce it either. Probably something like "Peuaho" but who knows !

Still, it was a nice place and we found a hotel with a car park but sadly it was full, so we were able to park Wallace up outside and chain him to the hotel canopy post on the pavement. Oddly enough, this was with the blessing of the local traffic wardens. Can't imagine that happening in the UK anytime soon!
After settling in we went for a look around, and thenwandered back to the hotel for an early night in preparation  for our last ride in South America.

Saturday 1st Feb 2014
Miles Today  229 Total  39,875
I lost pinch and punch by default.  I had no watch on and pinched and punched Ray 10 minutes early at midnight.  So consequently, I got pinched and punched back.  Not good, need to get a watch.
The last days  riding in the Americas was awful. We awoke to an overcast sky and Google Earth showed us that rain - lots of it - was pending for the next few days. Luverly.
We set off and filled up before leaving town. As we were filling up the rain started. It stayed that way for most of the day.
Again, worn tyres, rain and uneven tarmac paid their toll and slowed us down a lot. Most of the day we were only riding at about 50mph. My attention level was at max and it was bloody hard work.
We did manage to get a couple of pics during a brief respite in the rain and the photo below shows that we could have been in Arkansas, USA. Pretty but sparse.

We had a turn around session to get this fellow. There was a pair of then on adjacent posts. They are Pygmy Owls and stand about 7" tall.

Austral Pygmy Owl.

We arrived in Buenas Aires at about 4pm and drove straight to our hostel for the next 6 days. It turned out to be fantastic. We were met by a lovely lady called Suzanna Just, the hostel owner. She showed us to our room which was in a beautiful Old English style country house in the suburbs.
After settling in, I went out to the shops for some food and drink and then to the bank to get some more cash to pay for Wallace's trip home. Sadly, the economy here is collapsing. In the last month the exchange rate has dropped by 22%.  Fortunately for us, the rate against the US Dollar has done the same and as everything big is priced in US$. So, although the numbers change, the value does not. It just means that things like fuel and food get cheaper for us.

Suzanna then let me wash Wallace in the yard and we settled in for an early night in front of the TV watching US crime dramas....again.
We have unpacked everything, in readiness for going home.  I am really excited now.  I have loved the trip, but the last few weeks have been hard, but worth it.
We have to leave 4 clear working days for the bike to be sorted and so hopefully we will get a flight on Friday 7th, back to the UK.  In the meantime, we still have a bit of exploring to do.