Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Santiago detour

Santiago Graffiti
My trip to Mendoza ended in mission incomplete although I would not call it a total fail! Mendoza introduced me to some great people, a friendly hostel (Banana Hostel) and of course I met up with Mathiew, the KTM rider from France. However, after waiting a couple of days for the Honda dealer to open, it turns out they did not have the parts I needed and it would take 2 weeks to get them.

By now, my chain was in desperate need of replacement, my headlight was still only working intermittently, I needed a new back tyre, the top box bolts had broken again (third time) after all the corrugated roads and my steering bearings needed a clean and some grease. Rhonda was feeling very awkward at slow speeds! On top of all this, the clocks had started flashing on and off for no apparent reason!

The pool bar at La Casa Roja
My options were to try and keep going to Salta -  2 days ride away but in the right direction - or detour with Mathiew to Santiago where I knew for sure there were lots of bike shops and parts would be cheaper. I would also have a riding partner if my chain decided to break or come off. That was a reassuring thought. The decision was made - I was going back in to Chile and heading for Santiago with Mathiew.

We decided we did not want to tackle the busy border and instead looked at a route that would take us down some dirts tracks to a tiny border further south. It would also take us via a small town called Tunuyan which had another bike shop. It was worth a try on the way.

Tunuyan was around 100km away. It wouldn't take us long on this stretch of road. Boring but practical for our purposes. We were making good time and would make it before Siesta when all the shops would shut for a couple of hours at least.

Around 7km before our destination,  Rhonda decided to stop! The ever flashing clocks had now gone off all together and suddenly everything died. No power! I was in front for this very reason and so we both pulled in safely and off the busy highway. We found some shade and between us we checked all the connections. Thankfully it turned out to be as simple as one of the battery terminals having worked its way out a little and so the connection was not tight.

By the time we got to Tunuyan Siesta had hit and having spoken to the locals we found the track we were heading for was not accessible by motorbike. Only on foot or by horse! Another failed mission! The only way was to go back the way we came and head for the busy border. We decided not to rush and instead road to Maipu, on the outskirts of Mendoza for some wine tasting (it's known for its wineries)!! If life hands you lemons - make lemonade! In our case - If life hands you wineries - park up your bike and drink wine!

Dining area at La Casa Roja
After a beautiful ride over the pass to Santiago the next day, we teamed up with Claire again who had arrived on the same day! It seems our paths were destined to cross more than once. We also met up with another RTW biker. Sheldon is an Aussie who has been on the road for 5 years now and I have had many conversations online with him during my trip. We are all staying in a hostel for free in return for some help to open it's doors again on Monday. The place has been closed for business for a few months due to some leasing issues.

Rhonda is good as new again
La Casa Roja is a stunning old building in a lovely part of the city. It reminds me of Hogwarts with its big wooden corridors, tall ceilings and grand staircases.  The owner Simon, another Aussie, is hoping to encourage bikers to his place by offering good secure parking, a pool and a homely environment. He also hopes to set up a bike workshop in the future. It really does feel homely. This is why, despite having my bike repaired and ready to go a few days ago, I am still here and struggling to leave!

Court yard at La Casa Roja
Santiago is a great city with a lot to offer. The wall art is everywhere, adding a splash of colour to otherwise dull walls. The roads are fairly busy but if you are on route through the Americas you will find it a good place to get everything you need for your bike. It is a little expensive but places like Las Casa Roja exist which offer cheap beds and a kitchen so you can cook your own food. It really is hard to leave but the road is calling and tomorrow I will head North again, up the coast of Chile for a few days before making my way to Bolivia and the salt flats.


  1. considering what the poor little Rhonda has been through I`m surprised you have had so few problems. I, have always found Hondas reliable. as with the Las Casa Roja I think after this adventure you are going to find it hard to settle down anywhere. good luck with the next part of your journey. xxx

  2. Will be in Bilivia next week 15 of us with big adventure company heading for the salt flats on about. 27 th of April may see you there 😄

    1. Hey Rob. Do you know your route yet? I'll try and be on part of it at the same time if I'm in the area!

  3. Hello Steph
    Wonderful to read about your journey, yes Chile's pretty amazing, I drove there in 2013. Maybe you remember that we met each other in Yazd in Iran last year in May, along with Michael. I had a super trip home through Central Asia and Siberia.

    I have just bought a Honfa CRF 250 M and is now planning a trip throughout Siberia and across to Alaske and Canada next year. In this context, I should like to hear, where/how you've got the two side buckles for bags and gasoline, are they specially made or did you buy them in the UK as standard.
    Looking forward to reading more about your amazing travel
    Best wishes

    1. Hi John
      Good to hear from you. Not sure what you mean. The side bags are Kreiga and fit as standard although rather than tie it to the frame at the bottom, my dad added some buckles for me. The extra frame work at the back was added in jakarta to strenghthen my subframe as it snapped and the gas can is a rotapax and comes with fittings. Let me know if that answers your question xx

  4. Hello
    Thank you for your prompt reply, I understand what you have done with side bags. I also use canvas bags as they can be repaired more easily than aluminum box. Looking forward to reading more omdin amazing journey. When do you expect to be back in the UK ??

    1. Probably not until next year now. September maybe. Got to hang on for the winter to pass before attempting to cross Canada without rushing. Just taking my time North to Alaska for May now.

  5. Another good and colourful posting Steph' .... many thanks