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Thread: The Wife takes on Chlamydia. A South American Retrospective

  1. #65
    Buenos Aires

    I used my visit to Buenos Aires as an opportunity to visit friends Javier and Sandra at as well as Karl-Heinz, people I had only previous been in touch with via the internet. It was great to meet them in person.

    The other plan was to do some job interviews that I had arranged via Skype. I assumed that the capital city of a country would have fast WiFi connections in order to allow uninterrupted voice and video comms. Wrong! Even in a 4* posh hotel (I was staying in a cheap gaff around the corner) where the receptionist was kind enough to allow me to use their conference room (I was in shorts, but from the waist up, I wore a shirt and tie...) it wasn't good. People told me it was the same all over the city. Rubbish internet connection = stressed interviewee = no job :-(

    I bought 2 new tyres and a chain and sprocket kit for the bike. The tyres were 1.5 x and the C and S kit 2 x what it would cost anywhere else. But this is Argentina. Friendly people, run down and over priced.

    I did take more pictures in downtown BsAs, but the mood wasn't with me. I'm not a big city fan anyway.

    Argentina's answer to Cannon and Ball?

    Pink House, Buenos Aires

    Top half of route map down the Atlantic coast of Argentina along the Ruta 3. For reasons unknown I put my GPS tracklogs for this bit of the trip "somewhere safe". Navigtion is easy: 3000km in a straight line, likely with a 100km/h side or head wind. Just plug in mp3 player, duck behind windscreen and disengage brain for 5 or 6 days.

    Bottom half. On my previous South America trip on the Wife in 2001 I never rode the Ruta 3. I didn't miss anything then.

    Pictures to follow in the next post...

  2. #66
    The long, and I mean long!, ride down the Ruta Tres

    The highlight of my Ruta 3 ride: Pretty much at the beginning in Azul, only a few 100 km south of BsAs at Pollo's "La Posta de Viajero en Moto". "Pollo", real name Jorge, has been making bikers welcome at his place long before even my 2001 trip. I didn't pass Buenos Aires then, so it was great to meet the man at home. I had met him in the mid-2000s at a bike meeting in Germany where he was a guest of honour. An utterly top bloke who allows you to stay in his place for free. Donations welcome in an honesty box.

    A few of the many messages from around the world!

    Some messages are more profound than others... :-)

    Sometimes the Ruta 3 skirted the coast. Here some chilling sealions.

    Buying tyres and tying them on the back is part of the "overlander chic image" (!) ;-) that some try to portray. In this case me too, with a double whammy. Tyre availability is more than patchy outside the population centres of northern Argentina. The rubber currently on the bike ended up utterly shagged by the time I reached Rio Gallegos, the entry point to Tierra del Fuego

    At Puerto Madryn, a posh-fancying itself kinda place, all the rooms at the inn were full or horrendously overpriced. So I headed back to the main highway and free-camped at the gas station. The morning after packing up the tent. Excellent value for money!

    Long, straight and blowing a gale. That's the Ruta 3....

    I hitch-hiked in several trucks up the Ruta 3 in 2001. With a new shock-absorber for the Wife that a good mate had muled into Puntas Arenas. That story is described at

    Guillermo, a super friendly bike traveller, hosted me Rio Gallegos. In a dry, wind free garage at his mother's house. And good wifi too!

    Here we're outside the British Club, which considering the UK-Argentina stand-off regarding The Falkland Islands/ Las Malvinas amused me. Guillermo said there was a long history of British influence in Patagonia and much of the perceived antagonism is whipped up by the politicians. Like everywhere on the planet really: Friendly populous, dodgy suits.

    Guillermo guided me to a cool volcanic crater

    The ferry to Tierra del Fuego

    I didn't volunteer the information to anyone that my father was a British soldier in 1981, although he wasn't required to serve in the South Atlantic. The new 50 Peso note may look familiar... Like I said, pr!cks in suits

    In 2001 the signs were everywhere too.

    The main fuse on the bike kept blowing, here on a roundabout in Rio Grande. So, while I'm parked where I wouldn't usually stop, take a picture... A scuffed cable attached to the battery: Nothing what a bit of electric tape cant solve. And many new fuses until I sussed the cause.

    A chap in Rio Grande suggested I visit this ship wreck

    It's been here a while

  3. #67
    Ushuaia, the Third

    What do 1st February 2016, 29th January 2002 and 24th March 2001 all have in common? On each of these days, Spritely Brightly (sounds a bit wnak to refer to yourself in the 3rd person, but today I will, just using my alleged alter ego...) arrived at the end of the South American road, at this famous sign! Interestingly, Alaska is still the same distance from here, but Buenos Aires has moved 16km further away since the turn of the Millennium! :-) How could this happen? Maybe the guy who does such measuring has had his trundle wheel re-calibrated?

    There is a sign nearby that says no vehicle parking in front of the sign, but having selective understanding of Spanish (No fumar Espanol, Senor!) means yet again vital information passed me by :-)

    March 2001, 1989 BMW R100gs, sometimes called the Wife, but also Goaty, Helga, Ex-wife and the Fat Lady


    January 2002, 1998 KLR650 that burned even more oil than Clym!

    Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints (and graffiti...)

    Shrine by the sea. South of here is the Drake Passage. The souls of many seafarers rest out there.

    The sign in downtown Ushuaia, but not the end of the road.

    [IMG] [/IMG]

    While touristing on foot, these guys rode by. I never spoke with them as the traffic light was green and they didn't slow down. 2 up on a KLR with a load of stuff


    Here at the port there was also a sign that said no photos... Camels are sometimes described as ships of the desert. Are "Ingles" registered motorcycles "ships of the road? Whatever. It amused me taking this picture, albeit briefly. Arrrrgh Captain, shiver me timbers!

    Not sure about this sign. I'm in Ushuaia. Maybe these are the distances from Antarctica to these cities?

  4. #68
    Antarctica. Wild Antarctica! (Warning, display of gratuitous violence at the end of this post... But it is nature!)

    In this post, no motorcycle pictures, whatsoever. Sorry. They'll resume in the next post.

    Ushuaia is the principle staging post for commercial trips to Antarctica, the wildest place on earth that I'll ever visit. On my visits in 2001 and 2002, the season was finished (it runs to mid February) or I didn't have the time, respectively. Most people fly in for the tour. A few ride in. In 2016 I didn't really have the money to afford it, but when you put your mind to it, creative accounting can overcome many obstacles. :-) And it was last minute, half price!

    On board the ship I only wore shorts. I had no long pants on the bike, except camouflage waterproof over trousers! Most others on the boat were well off and alcohol was expensive. But wine was free with the meals and the waiters felt sorry for the few last minute riff raff (possibly because we were able to create some empathy too), so after dinner it was time to stagger to bed, half or completely cut. I hung out with Mike from Canada (who rode down on a 1200gs) and Nick from the UK who flew in. Great guys!

    and Nick

    Flying the flag

    Zodiacs and the ship. All the twice daily excursions were by zodiac with some very knowledgeable guides.

    Diving humpback whale

    Cormorant taking off Port Lockroy, Britain's southern most post office. Such machinations of bureaucracy help to continue claiming sovereignty to their part of the end of the world.

    And he's airborne


    Interesting glacier formations. This is a small one, but still bigger than our ship

    Sweet dreaming Crabeater seal. Luckily for him, no Orcas around...

    More reflections. We did hit it lucky with the weather, most of the time...

    Other seaborne visitors: Yot on!

    Intrigued penguin chick?

    Chinstrap penguins debating whether to go for a swim

    Grub's up

    Penguin colony. Boy, does their purple/red poo stink!

    And a step to the right.... Chicks chasing and adult. This may not even be their parent. It's all about pester power if you get fed!

    During: Leopard seal shredding penguin

    After: Is the seagull say: "That was a bit harsh!" ?

  5. #69

  6. #70
    As we're on the topic of maps, here's the first bit of the route I took from Ushuaia northwards. From Rio Gallegos I followed the Ruta 40, with side trips to some of the usual sights. Lots of memories were rekindled.


  7. #71
    Leaving Ushuaia: The only way now is north. (And some hare brained plan to ride the entire Ruta Cuarenta!)

    After returning to terra firma and reacquiring my land legs, I collected my motorcycle from where it was parked, checked out another hostal when other bikers were hanging out and headed north.

    My last view of Ushuaia, the End of the World

    On Tierra del Fuego island, the main highway is still the Ruta 3, that continues up the Atlantic coast to Buenos Aires. On the mainland I searched out the start of the Ruta 40, also bordering the Atlantic, but then heading westwards and northwards along the eastern side of the Andes (Chile/Argentina border) for about 5000km all the way to Bolivia. I had already ridden the northernmost 1500km.

    Waiting for the ferry to the mainland and Rio Gallegos with some Argentine bikers. Muy very windy!

    On the ferry: The guy is holding onto his 250 cc so that it doesn't fall over! I'm leaning against mine too so it doesn't rock so much.

    Stopped back at Guillermo's mum's garage in Rio Gallegos for the night. My German friend Moritz joined me. The last time we met was in Mongolia in 2012 where we crossed the country together. He filmed this now in-famous video... :-) He was heading towards BsAs

    Searching for the end of the Ruta 40... In the end I reached a fence and a big sign saying private property, so I gave up/assumed it was here. Apparently the official end changes occasionally depending on bureaucrats and street planners changing the road classifications/ naming.

    This wreck has been on the beach a long time. Since before 1981 (when it was already a wreck, the Argentine airforce used it for target practice prior to the Falklands conflict)

    Some of these holes aren't rust

  8. #72
    A side trip into Chile to Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine National Park

    I'm now pretty much following the route I took in 2001, albeit in the reverse direction, so there'll be plenty of opportunity to do a bit of a comparison of then and now. The big difference on the Ruta 40 is that the southern-most 3500km is pretty much all paved and can really be described as boring. The myth and the challenge is well and truly over. Still fun though and in comparison to being stuck in a car shuffling along at 10mph in the roadworks around junction 18 on the M6 motorway between Birmingham and Manchester, very memorable.

    One or two short stretches are still gravel.

    The rest is paved. And with a guard rail. Here with pink flamingos in the background. A pleasant surprise. I last saw their brethren on the Altiplano in Bolivia.

    Torres del Paine national park is in Chile and the border crossing was again very straight forward. The customs guy's IT system was down, so he had to issue me with a handwritten document, just like 15 years ago. This is the waterfront at Puerto Natales.

    This picture from 2016 has a certain similarity to this from 2001...

    In the foothills of the park

    A friend suggested it was possible to sneak into the park without paying the steep entry fee. The barrier is often open. Heading towards the gate, a tourist tour van turned out of a side track in front of me, offering the opportunity to ride out of eye-shot from the gate house. Result!

    The Grey Glacier at a distance

    Following the main trail through the park

    Cable-tie storage on the front forks

    Geese in 2001, probably at a similar location to the above image:

    Being on a budget, it is nice to camp for free (in this case legitimately) on a campsite (with enclosed hilltop cooking area), just outside the park gates (as suggested by Moritz) and with super views.

    A few more views in the same direction: Sunset

    (Next) morning cloud, but with a rainbow

    Visiting hawk

    And some more 2001 memories. See also for more "wise words":

    Nimble kitten

    This bridge may have seen better days

    Wild horses and a lot of cloud. But as it's always blowing a gale, the weather changes frequently

    Genuine off road = no road

    In 2001 I hiked up to the Towers of Pain, here a the boss of the hacienda checking his painter's handiwork

    Now I'm totally unfit and with my damaged knee, I would never have made it here. In 2001 it had been raining for a couple of days; Until the day I wanted to leave, when the weather cleared up. So I stayed another day and was greeted by this majestic sight.

  9. #73
    Back to Argentina and El Calafate and Perito Moreno glacier

    Leaving the Torres del Paine park, I rode by these 2 gauchos and young gaucha and stopped for a chat. They're very hardy people.

    Gaucho impressions from 2001:

    Vegetarians might struggle in Argentina

    I never got on with Argentina's national institution "mate". I found it too bitter


    Horses and dogs. A gaucho's best friends

    Back in Argentina

    The wind never stops

    What do ageing pop stars and ageing bike travellers do? Another gig in El Calafate in furthest Patagonia!

    For the last 50km heading towards El Calafate, Chlym started running like a dog. At the hostel there were 3 other KLRs: 2 Gen2s and a Gen1. All the guys were super helpful, especially the young Dutch chap with the Gen1. He allowed me to swap component to test for the fault. Every electric component I swapped out made not the slightest bit of difference. Until I tried the chap's fuel tank on my bike. It then ran fine. So I thought it was my dirty/contaminated fuel. Even more checking/testing... and 20 litres of fuel poured into a ditch... The fault was still on my bike! Bollox. It had to be the vacuum fuel tap. With some RTV silicone I turned it into a gravity only fuel tap and the bike ran fine. Turns out it's a known fault! Should have Googled it first, before attacking the bike. Novice error! But 6 hours of d!cking about means I know where all the electronic components can be found and how to remove them, as well as what the carburetor looks like from the inside.

    The Perito Moreno Glacier in 2016. It chucked it down the whole time I was there.

    From 2001: More action and no rain then...





    Side on view of another ice "fall"

    2016: Visitor in the hostel garden. The hostel was utterly full to overflowing because of Ricky's concert. I (sadly) avoided going.

  10. #74
    A quick video comparing the Ruta 40, then and now.

    A 2001 picture:

    There's plenty of random dialogue… Worth a watch? I’ve described it as boring. Maybe “anti-climax” is a better description. The northern 1500km is gravel and through some undulating terrain. Now 99% of the southern 3500km is paved, flat, straight. And still windy! Progress can’t stop the wind!

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