05 November, 2012

Day 124, 331km: Into Argentina

I think the last day I had some rain was somewhere in Colombia, around 40 days ago. So it was a big surprise for me to be greeted by rain when I led Bertha out of the parking lot.
It was a really cold morning. The temperature stayed around 10 degrees C, with sustained rain and sometimes heavy fog. That wasn't particularly fun but hey, if it rains once every 40 days I can't really complain about that.

So my destination for today was San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina!

Another picture to illustrate that Bertha does indeed require gasoline ;-)
The surprise of the day was to see plenty of other motorcycle rides on the way! I haven't seen many in Chile this far and there were quite a few Chilean (I guess) coming back from their long weekend as well as Argentinians coming back to their country, same direction that I was following.

This looks like autumn
So the first couple hours to the Chilean border were rather cold and wet! Luckily I made a friend on the way.

Rnfllllll bacon? bacon! sausage! squirrel squirrel squirrel! Happy!
He wasn't very talkative but we exchanged emails and parted ways.

Chilean border, Paso Cardenal Antonio Samore
Leaving Chile was a breeze, it took perhaps 15 minutes. It could probably have been faster but I tried to find insurance for Argentina there at the border. From what I had read online it is absolutely mandatory and the Argentine customs won't let you through unless you have a valid policy for your bike. There was a single insurance broker there at the border who offered USD$200 for one month of liability coverage for Argentina. I denied and headed to the Argentine side of the border, thinking I'd figure out a way to get something cheaper there.

That pass was COLD
The Argentine immigration/customs is perhaps 20km away from the Chilean facilities, separated by a mountain pass. I'm not sure what was the altitude over there but it was freezing cold. Rain, fog and 5 degrees C. I was pretty miserable up there and happy to be soon in heated facilities in Argentine!

Cool views along the way regardless of the cold!
Gracias
Oh look, a BMW gang!
There were a dozen bikes here, people from USA, Canada and New Zealand on a motorcycle tour, they started a few days ago in Santiago. They all had the very best gear, I didn't have time to talk to everyone but happened to meet Robert, a friend of Leslie and Cheryl, that I met on my very first day at the motorcycle dealership back in Vancouver. The world is small.

Let me check, am I carrying any table, refrigerator or oven? No I think I'm alright.
So at the Argentine customs I was a bit worried that I would get asked for the bike's insurance. I guess I was lucky and the customs officer was a very friendly woman, curious about my trip and who went to Thailand last year. So we talked about Thailand, my trip and I guess she "forgot" to ask me about insurance.
Told her "sawad dee kap" when I left and she replied with a Wai and a "sawad dee ka", that was fun. I can now say that I exchanged greetings with an Argentinian border official in Thai.

Beautiful lakes in Argentina
 Once in Argentina the weather got slightly better and the temperature went above 10 degrees C again, which was very welcome.

Stopped there for a bit to enjoy the view
Enjoy the view and do some basic maintenance, my chain needed some tightening and lubing. I managed to drop Bertha while putting her on the side stand (that beast is heavy!)

Now on the road in Argentina!
And well, back on the road now in Argentina I realized that I left Chile. Chilean drivers were very smart and polite. Argentinians well. Let's say that I'm sure some of them are polite.
Tailgating seems to be the national sport and after 34,000km I've become much less tolerant to this kind of asshole driving, now signaling people in increasingly unfriendly ways that they either pass me or back the fuck off.

San Carlos de Bariloche in the distance
After a couple hours of lazy pace driving, San Carlos de Bariloche appeared on the other side of a lake.

Clouds make beautiful pictures though
I got lucky again for the hotel. I noted the name of a street that from what I had seen on trip advisor was full of hotels and hostels. Entered the first place, it seemed to look very nice. The reception told me a room for a night was USD$150. Gasp. Is there any cheaper price I asked?
And I was told that I could use the hotel WiFi to book via TripAdvisor and it would probably be cheaper like this.

That was pretty cool in itself. But wait, there's more! On TripAdvisor I found the a room in this place for USD$45. I thought this was a great deal and booked it. After a few minutes, the reception wasn't still able to find my reservation and asked me to show them the email.

Well it turned out I booked a room in another hotel, with the same name, on the same street, in the same city. The other hotel was obviously cheaper than the one I was standing in.
Now that's where I got lucky, they told me that they would fix the booking for me, that I didn't need to pay extra and could go ahead in a room in their place.
So I ended up paying $45 for a $150 room. Sweet.

Nice place with a forest feel!
Next I needed to do some laundry, there was a laundromat right across the street. Next to a mini-market, that happened to have precisely one Leffe beer in their fridge. There are days like this where the world seems to conspire for your happiness :-)

Celebrating my arrival in Argentina!
Now it's time to plan a bit where I'm going to go in Argentina as apart from Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, I know absolutely nothing about the country!

Cheers,
Guillaume

2 comments:

  1. neat you met Robert and I am sure his wife Cynthia. We buy a lot of "stuff" for our bikes from him.

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    1. Yes indeed! I lost his namecard, what was his company again? I'd like to know how his trip went :)

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