Terra Firma! After a 4 hour wait on the dockside we were reassured our ‘motos’ complied with Argentinean legislation and we should ignore any attempts by a corrupt policeman who would tell us otherwise.
The paper work was in place and from the sanctuary of Cargo Deck 6 we were cast adrift into the melee which is South American driving.
11km lay between us and our first bed in South America at Dakar Motos, a biker’s hostel run by Javier and Sandra, our friendly ‘proprietorios’ who had already kindly helped us with the planning and preparation of various Latin American technicalities. With apparent ease we stretched this first trip out to a healthy 18km, passing on the way (only) one felled motorbike and its stricken rider, seemingly sideswiped by a rogue taxi! As virgin GPS users we strayed into the bad lands of Buenos Aires but made it to Dakar Motos just as Sandra & Javier were leaving for their mid afternoon siesta. Fortunately guests come first and we drank Mate and shared stories of the torturous sea, pirates and corrupt Latin American policemen.
A bleary eyed Sam was quickly put to bed and Chloe went straight to work at planning the route (and working on her newly honed Sudoku skills!)
Five days in Buenos Aires was enough to sample the city’s offerings. Respects were paid to those lost during the War of the Malvinas (Falklands War) before we were drawn to the form, shape and architecture of the largest city in Argentina.
We were drawn to the great Cemetery of Recoleta famous for its grand array of mausoleums/crypts of the great and good of the Argentinean Aristocracy, Military and Political legends including the – still to this day – worshiped Eva Peron.
From the lazy antique markets of San Telmo, the colours of La Boca and the spontaneous midnight samba bands, the city is an electric, vibrant cacophony of colour and enthusiasm, rich in Latin American personality. We feasted on more steak, (no match to the Uruguayan steak we savoured in Montevideo), and the best pizza regularly claimed by Argentina to be better than those made in Italy itself. We can confirm this is almost certainly the case.
With a wait of three days required for signing our Third Party Insurance, (covering us for the Mercosur – Countries of Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay & Paraguay, a trip was taken to the north west suburbs of B.A to the sleepy(er) town of Tigre.
With its canal inlets and vast green spaces no wonder the afternoon siesta was taken by many in the parks. With a noteworthy Welsh immigrant population in Argentina, its colonial architecture, although lacking natural stone, does retain the craft and grandeur of Oxford, Cardiff or even Swansea High Street.
But it’s not all fun, frolics and joy. Happiness may be a cigar called Hamlet but sadness is your neighbour’s Steel Frame in your front garden!
Tigre for two nights was enough. After a quick train trip back into B.A to collect our now signed insurance documents, we bade our farewells, packed the bikes and made for the hills and the countryside Estancia; and Chloe’s first love – Horses.
Our first sight of gravel roads, no mishaps only a little fishtailing, wheel-spinning and big smiles…
The Estancia, (the traditional Argentine Ranch), stretch for thousands of acres and are scattered across the landscape as far as the eye (and GPS) can see. These ranches have formed the back bone to the agricultural industry in Argentina over the years. Set 25km from the nearest road, our self sufficient ranch rear its own cattle for slaughter, milk their own cows by hand and live from the proceeds of breeding and trading in Arab thoroughbreds. Life is supplemented by travelling vagrants who want to live the Gaucho dream and ride western-style across the plains, some in control while others are less than elegant!
We were settled into our stable, fed a quick meal, introductions were made and after a quick repair we made for the saddle!
Surrounded by flamingos, ostrich and an infinite number of cattle we were free to roam, rides only punctuated by food breaks and coffee. Joined by Stephanie and Melissa, German students studying in B.A who were desperate for a break from the city, we were cared for by the live-in family who tend the animals, produced delightful meals and showered us with endless baking of fresh bread, tarts, cakes and the famous Argentinean Asado (BBQ).
Some of the other residents
Dinner (one day, just not yet!)
But all good things must come to an end, like the Littlest Hobbo – we had spread good vibes, made a lonely, sad child happy, saved a calf from slaughter (for now) – we packed our bags and hit the road, due south.
Lured by the decoration of Golfinger’s lair, we pulled into the nearest town; the 1970s hadn’t yet reached the Plaze Hotel in Dolores!
Manana, donde vamos a…? – who knows?
Ostriches Seen: 1 (plus 6 still inside their eggs)
Items stolen by Pickpocket: 2
Lense Caps lost: 1 (dropped from bike at 50mph)