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!