Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 85 to 89 - Victoria to Paso de los Libres to Buenos Aires, Argentina

RobT:  Day 85: Today we spent some time figuring out the bus schedules to get back to Paso de los Libres where we had left the bikes at a hotel. While recuperating from the 8 km walk back to town from the Dakar Rally site and festivities (no cabs or shuttles available), we caught up on the blog, as you may have noticed.

Day 86:  We left Victoria, Entre Rios, yesterday on the 5:40 pm bus and arrived in Paso de los Libres at 8:30 am next day (you may recall that our ride down to Victoria was a 5 hr trip by car, about 500 km).  The bus trip included a 4-hour layover in Concordia from 11 pm to 3 am waiting for our connecting bus.  We spent the day figuring out how to transport the bikes to Buenos Aires and by 1 pm found someone who would show up tomorrow at 7 am with a van at a cost of roughly 700 USD.  Expensive, but we really had no choice, as we needed to get going.  There was nothing here and we NEEDED to get moving toward our goal of getting RobC's bike fixed and shipping the bikes to South Africa.

Day 87:  Marcelo showed up with a white van and we loaded both bikes into it.  I don't think we could have fit even an extra roll of toilet paper on the van, as it was jammed completely full.  I put my bike in the van as well, as I didn't feel particularly safe riding a bike with questionable front brakes for 700 km into a city of 12 million trying to follow the van.  It was a looong, hot drive without air conditioning to the city.  We got there around 6:30 pm, we unloaded the bikes at Dakar Motos in the suburb of West Florida in Buenos Aires. We met Javier and Sandra, the owners. 

Day 88/89:   Dakar Motos is an interesting place.  A mechanics shop with motorcycles in one corner, tires, parts and a desk in another, out back 2 bunk beds, a toilet, a shower and a kitchenette in the back corner, a mechanics bay beside that and a common area just out back with a small grassy area to pitch a few tents if the bunks were occupied or weren't your style.  Many travelers have stayed here and at 10 USD per night for a bed or 2.50 to pitch a tent, it was certainly a good deal.  No air conditioning and lots of mosquitoes, but there is Wi-Fi and hot water!  The train is 4 blocks away, and with a 90 peso-cent fare ( 23 cents USD) to get to downtown Buenos Aires, it was ideally located. 

Dakar Motos

 Sleeping and kitchen quarters

Front office

Rear common area just off the living quarters

Back yard where you can pitch a tent.

The day after we arrived, we dismounted the luggage and gas tank of Rob's bike, so that Javier could start getting into the clutch area.  We still weren't sure exactly what was wrong with the clutch until Javier walked over with the clutch plate in his hand ... nothing but a round metal plate, with the asbestos material gone and even the rivets had worn groves in the adjacent pressure plates!!  This did not look good, but at least we knew the cause of the failed motorcycle. Now the task was to find the needed parts.  We found out that the parts were not available in Argentina and shipping from Germany or the US would take as much as 30 days due to Argentine customs formalities. rob found out that Chile, a neighboring country, had some of the parts in Santiago, but they were 3 times the normal prices, about 4000 USD for all parts needed (including the handlebar and other items broken by Rob's fall).  So, Rob decided to fly to Atlanta where most of the parts were available at good prices and the 2 parts hat weren't in stock could be overnighted to Atlanta, ready for Rob to pick up the next day.  They also had a used handlebar which was excellent news as there wasn't a new one anywhere in the US or even in Germany.  Rob booked his flight for tonight (Thursday) at 11:30 pm and would be back Monday morning very early, parts in hand, chomping at the bit to fix the get and continue our journey.

Javier and RobC checking out the clutch plate.

Little side note:  Odometer reading - 24,947 km Cambridge on 10-10-2010 - 46,991 km in Buenos Aires.  22,044 km driven so far on this trip.

RobC:   I know, it seems crazy to go from Argentina to the US to get motorcycle parts, but we weighed all the alternatives. The main problem is "time," which is limited. If we want to complete the Africa/Middle East/Europe part by mid-April, we cannot afford to sit in Buenos Aires for 30 days waiting on parts.

Right now I am at the Atlanta airport, waiting for my flight to Miami, and on to Buenos Aires, where I will land early Monday morning and head for Dakar Motos with replacement parts in hand, hoping for a quick repair and preparation of the bike. Meanwhile we will be working on air freight schedules to South Africa. I am looking forward to starting the second half of our adventure, in areas I have only ever dreamed about. It is both scary and exciting to go into uncharted territories. One thing is sure, we will be keeping a close eye on bike maintenance and driving safety. It would be nice to complete the journey without further mishaps or breakdowns.

Here are some recent pictures from my point of view:

Marcelo of Darimar Moto Transportes and Rob having a chuckle about the jam-packet van with the two motos and all of our gear when loading up in Paso de los Libres.

RobT and Javier of Dakar Motos unloading the bikes in Buenos Aires.

 Joey and the gang at Atlanta BMW Motorrad  in Marietta, Georgia, knocked themselves out to get all the needed parts in record time.Thanks guys!!

As an added bonus, I met Fabrizion Tapia and his lovely wife Jeffrey at the BMW dealership. Fabrizio and Jeffrey have been long-time residents of Buenos Aires and know Javier of Dakar Motos very well. Small world. Fabrizio and Jeffrey invited me to their suburbian home for an evening of great Argentine wine, snacks and good conversation. This put a nice, positive slant on my rather hasty and unplanned trip to the US.

I should be back in Buenos Aires tomorrow moring with parts in hand and ready to fix the bike and get back on the road and on to South Africa. We'll keep you posted!


  1. Ek wens julle baie veel plesier in Suid-Afrika. Is julle ooit vroeër daar gewees?

  2. You just missed getting stuck in Atlanta, as they had 4 - 6 inches of snow Sunday evening and many flights were cancelled and delayed!! Hope your moto gets fixed quickly.

  3. Hi Dick,

    I have never even dreamed of going to South Africa, but Gaby just bought the tickets and we are working on shipping the bikes to Capetown, so it is becoming a reality. RobT is working on routes, we met some SA riders here who are offering their homes, and it promises to be a great experience.

    Hi Phyllis,

    Yes, they all talked about the coming snow as I departed Atlanta. The cold felt kind of good, but I am happy I did not have any delays. Now we are here in 100+ temperatures, chomping at the bit to get going.