Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Back on the road

Getting Rhonda out was no big drama thanks to the organised fashion in which the Argentinians conduct themselves. Despite having no Spanish skills, I decided to chance not using an agent on this occasion. Last time I tried this in Thailand (after ditching my scamming agent) I found myself in the middle of a warehouse shouting "Does ANYONE here speak English!". It was very frustrating as the process is complicated and there are generally many offices you have to visit and re visit during the process!

People were patient with me here and I got through it with little frustration. The guys in the warehouse helped me uncrate Rhonda and held her while I put the front wheel back on. They were great guys and we had a giggle despite the language differences.

I made the same mistake that I made last time when putting Rhonda back together! I put the screen on and then tried to put the mirrors on! Trust me, its not possible! Off came the screen again (which is awkward at best) and on went the mirrors, much to the amusement of my adopted crew! Fuel in, Battery reconnected, oil levels and air pressure checked and we were good to go.

For what first impressions are worth...

Argentina has a certain equilibrium about it. It's like someone has hand picked all the bits I have loved about all the other countries and gift wrapped them beautifully in to one big welcome present.

It balances freedom and order, old and new in perfect harmony. It has music and culture in abundance and it has friendliness - without being overbearing - in the bag! I feel welcome, appreciated and perfectly safe (despite the best attempts of certain number plates!).

As a biker people wave, take picture as they overtake, try to talk to me at lights and give me the thumbs up as I pass by. Perhaps it's the aftermath of the Dakar. Perhaps they just love bikers!

One of the first things I noticed about Argentina is the fact that Bidet's stuck over here! They squeeze them in to the smallest of bathrooms as if it were essential (perhaps they could take some space saving tips from Asia. A hose on the wall takes up a lot less room!).

I feel so foolish for not knowing the language. I must have apologised 50 times for not being able to speak Spanish! I really wish I had taken the time to learn (how many times have I said that in my life?). However, I am getting by with good will and hand signals and it's certainly creating a few laughs trying to make myself understood.

The roads were a little confusing to start with. I ran a red light at one stage and found myself going the wrong way down a one way street the next. In my defence, the town of Dolores is just a network of one way roads and I STILL fail to understand how I am supposed to know which way to travel them! There are no signs at all.  It seems everyone just knows! Luckily the guy on the bike I nearly collided with on the corner, just smiled at me!!! Is this Stepford?

Despite this wonderful place, I must admit to feeling a little lonely the last couple of days. Particularly this morning. I was sat outside in an idilic little town, eating my croissant and drinking by coffee and surrounded by people who all smiled and said "Ola" as they passed by but I looked at the empty chair oposite and thought "It's not where you are, but who you're with!".

I guess I was spoiled in Oz and NZ.

Shortly I am going to head for the coast and see if I can find a Sea lion colony. I believe there is one at Mar del Plata. From there I will decide where to rest my head for the night. I messed up on my couch surfing contact (he was in the wrong place!) and so I can either camp or find a hostel. I will see how it goes. I don't feel like making any plans right now!


  1. Not in the chair opposite you, but in am armchair in front of the fire, but still with you in our thoughts. UKev

  2. As you ride South, look for the beach where the Killer Whales come ashore to munch on are in for lots of helmet time in the next week..

  3. although you feel lonely there is a whole world of people who wish they were sitting opposite you enjoying the journey your taking.xx

  4. Once you hit you're stride in the new continent you'll be fine. Argentina is a great place to start. Should be some other bikes headed south to connect with! Wish it was me! Vic

  5. Another great post Steph' ...

    Haha ... your notes about extracting your bike in Thailand are almost paraphrasing my own travel blog. The Thai are wonderful people, but beauracracy rules in Bangkok Port authrority. I'd have happily passed a few 'back-handers' had I'd known what to pay to whom. But in not knowing, had to trudge back with pieces of paper, getting one stamp after another before I could get my bike back. It took me pretty much a whole day before I was able to hit the Thai tarmac ...

    Your disarming honesty volunteering feelings of being alone, rings a bell with me too, in recalling my own travels. A percentage of the time was with travel-partners. However, would say that around half the time was spent on my own. In some ways, this was the most valuable, as I learned to be at peace with myself ...

    There were a few periods of loneliness, but mostly look back and realise the value of learning to being 'alone'. And take comfort in my own company. From that understanding, have learned to appreciate my friends both close and occasional, more than ever. And too, have to say that whenever I see any of my family, feel their love with a profoundness that wasn't there prior to my travels.

    Steph' ... you've already whetted my appetite to hear more about Argentina from your well written post (loved the comment about Stepford). And would like to say it's now on my bucket-list of places to visit. Sadly, the realisation has dawned on me, that there's simply not enough time. With me now nearly 60, guess it's best to satisfy myself and concentrate on getting me and a(ny) bike to the handful of places that are already on my mental list.

    But in not taking myself to Argentina, it doesn't mean to say I won't be able to have some knowledge of riding a bike 'downhill' towards the stark beauty of the Southern Ocean. As I'm sure you'll continue to paint pictures with your words and give some flavour of the experience to us armchair tourists.

    Stay safe and have fun ...

    1. Hi Lenz.
      Thanks for taking the time to write that. It was really nice to read. Being on the road for 10 months has had its ups and downs as you can imagine. I dont regret making the decision to do this journey alone. As you say these ALONE times can be very rewarding but I have not met a long distance traveller yet who has not had moments of loneliness. That may be when you are surrounded by people of course! We are human after all and I guess it would be worrying if I didn't have these moments and wrong too not to share them as they happen. Its not all a bed or roses after all but thats what makes the journey. The ups and downs.

      What do you mean you have left it too late???? What nonsense!!! : 0 )

      Whatever you decide to do I am glad you are enjoying the blog and thanks again for writing xxx

  6. Hi Steph,

    You sound very matron like with your 'What nonsense!!' !!!

    However Lenz I would have to agree with Steph it's never too late, our parents are planning a bike road trip to Siberia(?) Northern Russia anyway from North Wales probably next year now. My Dad has just turned 67 today & Mum 65 tomorrow - not that they will thank me for putting that out there!!!!

    Good luck!

    Take care & ride safe Steph & all other travellers & would be travellers!!

    Karen - Steph's big sis xxx

    1. Are they really Karen? First I've heard! Brilliant!

    2. Unless I've got completely the wrong end of the stick (not unusual!!) yes they are!! K x

  7. Just found Farrm Taid, featured in your last video, on Streetview

  8. Crikey, good for your parents! And Siberia too ... hope they're not planning to go during the winter LOL. But hey, it sounds bloody good to me Karen that they've still got a sense of adventure. So maybe it's true, that I've got more years in than I imagine? Many, many thanks for the encouragement ...

    And for Steph' .... not sure if you've heard anything about her, but there's another young lady in your neck o' the woods (within a 1000K or so) on a bike who've I've (occasionally) been following from a distance. Mostly she seems to keeping a photo diary, rather than blogging. According to her FB pages, she's somewhere in Argentina at the moment. While I was always cautious about meeting other bikers on the road, the few times I did, it was usually rewarding to exchange notes and get any advice for places they'd been, and I was heading. Anyhow, maybe check it out if you get chance ...

    Looking forward to the next installment. Bonne route ...

  9. Being in Thailand, I tried to diversify my trip. I had a month at my disposal there, which I spent in several cities. Most of all I remember Chiang Mai, and of course Bangkok. Very different cities, although located in one country. Being in every city I rented transport for travel. In Chiang Mai, was a very good service where I found routes for my travels through the mountains. In the rest of the cities I used a car, because it was reliable for those populated areas, because of the large amount of vehicles on the roads.