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February 25th, 2012 | Argentina

Back in B.A. …!!

The last few days in Buenos Aires have been hectic to say the least…!!

My good friend Ezequiel was at the airport to meet me, and together we drove out to Dakar Motors to collect my shock absorbers… Javier and Sandra had just seen off a few other long distance bikers on their KTM’s and after just a few minutes of describing what the repairs to my shocks involved, we were set to go…

Argentine Football's latest signing... Move over Messi...!!

The Ohlins had needed a major service; a new shaft had to be machined for it, a complete set of seals replaced, the cylinder re-gassed and a new hydraulic oil supply pipe fitted, as the old one had actually broken off where it joined to the adjustment control…

The BMW shock received a standard service, just seals, oil and gas…

The cost for both…?? A wallet-lightening $740.00… Better than buying a new shock at $1500.00 each…!!

Back at Ezequiel’s apartment, we quickly fitted the Ohlins shock to the “happy to see me, and now fluent in Spanish, Big Fella”, and after a quick lunch with Virginia, I collected all my gear and rode the two blocks back to the Hotel Rey, where I had stayed before…

Except that it took me more than twenty blocks to find the place, as I took a wrong turn on exiting the underground parking where Ezequiel keeps his collection of ten motorcycles…!!

My GPS was packed away somewhere, so I had no help from GiGi, and the Big Fella was only too happy to be stretching his legs again…

Bugger would have been delighted to cruise around the city all day if he had his way…!! A block or two before panic set in, I finally saw a restaurant that I recognized and found my way to the hotel…!!

An hour later, the other members of Tres Machos, Pablo and Agustine arrived to greet and bid me a final farewell… They had ridden into the city to collect their motorcycles that had been trucked up from Ushuaia… It had taken their bikes five weeks to get to B.A., and I teased them by reminding them that it had taken me just three and a half days…!!

The Machos drop in to say goodbye one more time...

It was great seeing my fellow “Ruta 40 Warriors” again, and they surprised me by presenting me with an Argentine football jersey, with my name inscribed on the back… Under this was the number 3, and “Machos” printed below that with each of the names at the end…!! I was touched by their kind and thoughtful gesture… There was a lot of hugging, I can tell you…!!

We went out to dinner afterward, and sat reminiscing about our journey down south… As usual, Pablo’s hands spoke as much as his lips did, while Agustin and I watched in awe as he got his messages across…

When watching and listening to him, I often wished I had a camera running to film his gestures…!! He would often break off in mid-Spanglish to ask Agustine “como si dice…?” (How do you say…?”) to which Agustine would usually reply, “I don’t know…!!”….

Pablo would just make up a new gesture and a word to go with what he was saying…!!

“Ronnie…!! me entiendes…??” (Do you understand…??”

Flood lit colonial buildings like this beuaty are commonplace in the city...

“Si, Pablo… I think so…!!” Usually, I didn’t, but that never put the brakes on our conversations…!! Pablo would just carry on from where he had left off…

We laughed about everything, and then got serious as we walked back to where Agustine’s bike and Pablo’s car were parked… I helped Agustin get his kit tied onto the bike while Pablo fetched his car…

I had flashes of us loading our bikes in early mornings when we had ridden together… I wished then as I do now, that we had spent more time together on the road…

Much hugging and back-slapping took place as we said our final goodbyes…

Pablo had one more bright idea before we parted…

“Ronnie…!! You, Patricia…!!”, hands flying all over the place, eyes wide, head tilted to one side to highlight the point he was trying to make… “Come back to Argentine…!! We go again to Ushuaia…!! Girls in car, Machos on bikes….!! Si…??”

“Si Pablo…!! Brilliant idea…!!” And to me, it really was…!! I think all our respective partners would get on well together… I did remind him however, that there would be a lot less “bird-watching” should his idea ever come to fruition… His brow knitted at the thought of this as he considered the gravity of my words…

“Si…!!” he replied, then made a noise like “Ka-Pishew”, and pantomimed a whip coming down to lash us…!!

" Where the heck am I gonna put all this stuff...??"

They rode out into the night, hooting and waving madly as they went… I hoped that we would meet again as I stood with both hands raised in the middle of the street, proudly wearing the football jersey that they had given me……

The Obolisco by night...

I spent the next day sorting through all my gear and repacking my kit into the various bags and panniers, alarmed at how much more there seemed to be since I last had everything together in one place…!! I had bought more clothes to wear whilst on Parrot Cay, and forgotten to leave them there in my haste to pack and be ready to catch the boat back to Provo…!!

Last night, Ezequiel invited me to join him at the Tango Porteno, where he worked as a sound technician…I walked the eight or ten blocks down to the Avenida 9 Julio, to where the massive Obelisco stood floodlit against the dark sky and then turned towards the Theatre where the Tango show was playing…

He secured me a seat close to the sound booth where he controlled the sound effects of the show, and I settled down with a cold Stella Artois in a frosted glass, to watch what was as an amazing display of dancing…

Tango Porteno, where Ezequiel can be found every night of the week...

Earlier, when I was standing in the booth with him, I had to smile when I saw that the screen saver on the company’s computer, was a photo I had taken of the petrol pumps at Baja Caracoles in Patagonia…!!

Ready to Tango...!!

From the moment the curtain went up, I was captivated…!! The fourteen dancers seemed to float across the stage, all grace and beauty…

The passion that they exuded was enthralling, and had the audience clapping in appreciation after each dance scene was completed…

Numerous costume and prop changes took place during the 90 minute show, in what was as slick a production as I had ever seen…

It's a long way from Ruta 40 as Ezequiel checks his equipment before the curtian goes up...

I wished that I had been able to take better photos than the the ones I was able to…

No flash photography is allowed at the venue, and will the low lighting and rapid movements of the dancers, not a single photo of them came out clearly enough… I was also positioned too far back to take decent shots anyway…

I had seen the Tango being danced on many occasions; on TV, in movies, and on a few occasions when I attended ballroom dancing competitions with a former girlfriend in the 80’s, but never had I seen the Tango danced like this…!!

The complicated steps that these professionals made look so simple, had me wondering how they did not end up with bruised shins and perhaps the odd heel to the groin…!! I am convinced that most of the dancers were double-jointed…!!

A 12 piece orchestra played on an elevated platform above the dancers, and between scenes, old black and white photos of Buenos Aires from the fifties and sixties scrolled on a screen behind them… The history of Tango and the music it was born from, flashed before the audience, both in picture and live dancing… It was a show that I could watch over and over again, focusing on a different pair of dancers each time…!!

The orchestra plays from a landing above the stage...

The cast take a well deserved bow to an appreciative audience...

In Ezequiel's "office" after the show...!!

Ezequiel’s significant other, Virginia, was the lead violinist at a Tango show in another part of the city.. Her elder sister was the lead violinist in the show that I had just seen, and her two brothers were also part of the orchestra…

Once her show was over, Virginia joined us at a pavement cafe for dinner… Prior to that, Ezequiel and I had sipped on a Johnny Walker Double Black while waiting for her to return to their apartment… It seemed the right thing to do: cap off what had been a classy show with a classy shot of fine Whisky…!!

We arrived at the restaurant which they chosen and ordered our meals well after midnight… I am still amazed that people go out to eat dinner so late at night, or early in the morning, depending on how you look at things…!!

We ate our way through two plates of thin steaks, a large salad and a mountain of fries, all washed down with a bottle of red wine, and were the last diners to leave at about 2.00 am…!! In fact, the waiters began pouring water on the floor around us and sweeping it into the gutter while we ate…

Ezequiel got the mutters about this and went to complain to the manager… The sweeping stopped…temporarily, and then they got right back to it while we sipped on our coffees…!!

We enjoyed a laughter-filled dinner with Virginia...

"Are you sure this is the "Grande Frittes" I ordered...?? Doesn't seem nearly enough...!!"

The friends I had made out in Patagonia had treated and entertained me royally during both my visits to Buenos Aires, and had gone out of their way to assist me whenever I needed…

It was times like these that made me realize how fortunate I was to have met them, and the many other wonderful friends I had made during the course of my journey…

This was what it was all about…!! Not just riding to see places I had always wanted to visit, but meeting people who touched my life in ways that I never imagined was possible…

It made me wish I could do something BIG for all of them…

At 2.30 am, we stood on the pavement outside my hotel… Another round of fond farewells, another knot in the throat for me… Warm hugs, kisses, and promises to keep in touch and visit again someday… Maybe a violin solo in New Jersey in September…??

Who knows what the fates will decree…!!

Stopped to chat to these two geezers, but they weren't saying much...!! (Notice the litter in the background...!!)

I had to clear a mountain of kit off the bed to squeeze between the sheets before I fell into a deep and contented sleep…

I awoke with light streaming through my window, and the rattle of brooms and buckets as the cleaning staff made their way down the passage outside my room… It was 9.00 am…!! I leaped out of bed like a scalded cat, remembering that I had a ton of stuff to do today to prepare for my ride tomorrow…!!

After a light and hurried breakfast, and clutching GiGi and a map of the city in one hand and my helmet in the other, I got into the saddle and eased the Big Fella into the traffic…

The ferry terminal on the banks of the Rio de la Plata...

We headed downtown to look for the Apple Store where I hoped to replace the I-Pod I had lost on my arrival in Buenos Aires… The streets and sidewalks were jam-packed with traffic and pedestrians and it took a number of curses before I was able to find a place to park the bike…

Buenos Aires has a modern side to it too...

Buenos Aires has many beautiful colonial buildings that line the streets of the older parts of the city…

There are two things that annoy me about the place though…

The first is the enormous amount of graffiti that adorns nearly every building, and the second is the Argentinian’s penchant for littering…!!

Piles of litter and garbage line the streets wherever you go, and the refuse removal trucks run day and night, picking up the trash that residents just seem to dump outside the doors of their apartments…

I have watched young and old, men and women alike, carelessly drop bottles, cartons and every conceivable piece of litter, wherever they happen to finish eating or drinking what they are carrying…!! Granted there are not enough trash bins on the sidewalks, and those that I have seen, are always full to the brim… The city would be far more attractive if it’s inhabitants were able to curb their habit of littering…!!

Slightly buggered, but nevertheless neatly parked in the street near my hotel...!!

At the Apple Store, I discovered that for some unknown reason, Argentina has placed some kind of import restriction on the I-Pod Classic I was looking for…!! There are I-Touch’s available, but no I-Pods…!! Go figure…!! I am not looking forward to long rides without music…!!

Talk about having your tail up...!! The new shock makes a big difference...!!

I had more luck booking my ferry tickets at the Buquebus terminal, and after shelling out 476 Pesos, I secured a place on tomorrow morning’s ferry to Colonia in Uruguay…

With GiGi now having “found her feet” in the city, I was able to get back to the Hotel Rey without a single swearword…!!

She has promised to brush up on Uruguay before we leave the ferry tomorrow…!!

The Big Fella doesn’t really care where we are going, as long as we are “going”…!!

He is currently standing a lot taller than we are both used to, despite being loaded with most of my kit…!! For the last few weeks, I have been able to use the left hand pannier as a “table top” to place my water bottle and any food I was eating at the time, on… Not anymore…!!

The pannier is at such a steep angle now that nothing will stay put on it…!!

And before, I could rest my boots flat-footed on the ground whenever I cam to a stop… Now it’s back to “tippy-toes”…!! Not fun in traffic, especially when you forget that your feet are now another three inches off the ground…!!

Javier had the Ohlins shock set a lot harder than I am used to, and it will take some time before I am comfortable with this, but we believe that this might have been the reason the Ohlins has given me so many hassles in the past… I plan to ride it like this for a few hundred kilometres and then see if the current setting suits my riding style or not…

The roads of Uruguay, the 85th country on my world tour, will be our testing ground…

©GBWT 2012

 

9 comments to Back in B.A. …!!

  • Kenny

    All the best for the next chapter.Big Fella must be chuffed with the new shock.
    We are all holding thumbs for a brilliant trouble free ride.
    My wife is also reading your blog.I hope it changes her way of thinking.
    Have a good one.
    Kenny

  • Virginia y Ezequiel

    Dear Ronnie: we have spent a great time with you! Now we are sad about your departure but we wish you the best luck in the last part of your amazing journey.
    Hoping to see you again someday…
    A big hug and a kisses from Argentina!
    With love, Virginia and Ezequiel.-

  • Mark Behr

    Hey Dude – how did you lose your Ipod – must have missed that in your blog?
    Hope that all is settled now and you are feeling remotivated and excited about the rest of your journey. Go well!

  • Paula

    Hi Ronnie,
    “It made me wish I could do something BIG for all of them…”, by you taking the time to write your blog and sharing with us the ups and downs through out your trip you ARE doing something BIG for each and every one of us.
    Looking forward to “joining” you on the next leg of your journey…
    Regards
    Paula

  • patricia

    Hey Baby! Great blog! And yes, we will go back some day! Thank you to the “tres machos” for taking such good care of you. I can’t wait to meet them and Virginia too! Missing you here on PC. Big kisses…

  • Thanks Paula…!! Hope I can keep up with the writing…!! The next few months are going to be hectic to say the least…!! Big push to get to Alaska before the white stuff starts falling…!! R.

  • Virginia and Ezequiel, you made my stay in BA a great experience…!! Thanks you so much for all you did for me, and the time you took to spend time with me…!! It will never be forgotten…!! Until we meet again…!! R.

  • Yeah, would love to visit BA again with you…!! Missing PC too…and you…!! R.

  • Vince

    Ditto to what Paula said GB… We all appreciate it I’m sure. Keep the shiny side up bruuuu!!!

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