yo yo yo ! 😉
After saying goodbye to our new found biker friends in Ushuaia, we left the world’s most southern city first thing on Monday morning having stayed for five days – Vancouver here we come!
We wanted to cover 400km which would take us back to San Sebastian on the border with Chile. We had big plans to cross the border on Monday night where we would do a spot of wild camping before heading to the small fishing town of Porvenir in Chile where we would catch a ferry to Punta Arenas.
Or so we thought!
All was going according to plan until we arrived in Rio Grande, having been on the road for one and a half hours, (since our last fuel stop), we were keeping an eye out for a petrol station so we could grab a coffee and top up the tank.
Generally speaking, all towns in Argentina are built on an American style grid system. With each block being 150-200m square, progress can be slow as you cross one street then the next.
Having come off the highway to find fuel, the main road into town had traffic lights on each crossing further slowing progress. We had just pulled away from a red light when we spotted the Service Station in the far distance. Unfortunately, distracted by the petrol station and dreams of a coffee break, we didn’t notice the unnaturally close set of traffic lights.
Chris was riding in front – his point of realization came when he noticed cars beginning to crossing in front. Quickly looking up at the ‘American style’ traffic light – hung over the middle of the road at a height of about 10m – the little blighter was showing red!
Fortunately, the car which was next to cross our path stopped, the driver having (thankfully) seen us coming (at speed) and was quick to realise we – 2 bikes & his car – were about to share the same point in time and space.
With a quick search on Google and Einstein’s back catalogue, you will find a great deal of research on velocities, probability waves, points of rotations and the transfer of energy and (more importantly) the incompatibility between the human being and fast moving metallic objects!
Chris went straight for the brakes, pulling up on a 10pence – a miracle the front tyre didn’t skid and tip him onto his head.
Like the Kerb-cam on a Formula 1 racing circuit, Chris had the best seat to see Chloe swerve to avoid a collision after his well executed emergency stop. Unfortunately, as he saw her swing past in a neatly implemented swerve, terror struck as he realised she was heading directly for our new found friend in the VW Gol (not a Golf – a Gol – its only 75% of a Golf). Realising Chloe’s difficulty, the car driver, (Carlos as he came to be known), had slipped into reverse in an effort to get out of our way. Chloe would have just made it passed in front of him, had it not been for her pannier that added another foot and a half to her bike’s backside.
The pannier, like a whopping great big mallet, catches the edge of the car bumper and promptly starts stripping said bumper, along with grills, lights, number plates and “I wish I was a Golf” stickers, from the front of the car. Acting as a point of pivot the pannier causes the bike to swing into the car, first squashing a leg, then spilling Chloe onto the bonnet. Rolling gently off the stationary car’s bonnet onto her back, she mentally checks all body parts and noted all is fine. Apart from a throbbing and half-crushed leg. Meanwhile, the bike is skipping down the road like a skimming stone, bouncing along in a blur of dust, plastic and German engineered parts!
By the time Chris has sensibly and safely parked at the side of the road, people were already swarming at Chloe’s side. An unnamed woman held her hand, comforting her in those well-known Spanish verses Chloe could only guess at understanding. Another chap (blindly) struggles to yank her helmet off – not good! – before Chloe has to interfere and take it off herself. Thank God that there was no potential neck injury otherwise that guy could have done much more damage than good wrestling with a helmet on someone else’s head! Chris, hovering in the background, has to fight to get through to his darling wife!
Bursting with adrenalin, Chloe is beside herself, but having done her own systems check she is able to pinpoint to the fact that she can’t feel her left leg. With a quick wiggle of her toes and a husband’s fondle of her thigh, we come to an Architects’ conclusion that it is not broken and is probably only a dead-leg. Meanwhile, the bike is pouring fuel all over the road – a guy comes over, gently peels away the doting husband and directs him to more manly ministrations of lifting the bike from the road.
Within a startling two minutes the traffic is redirected, we are surrounded by the Fire Brigade, an Ambulance, 5 police cars and Chloe is on a stretcher with an uncomfortable neck brace on, being bundled into the ambulance. At the hospital Chloe is whisked off for a full body X-ray while Chris is joined in the corridor by a Policeman, the driver (Carlos) and a guy called Ricardo, who Chris eventually remembered (2 days later) was the guy who helped him move Chloe’s bike off the road.
Ricardo calls his friend Willie – a fellow biker who speaks a little English and is known for taking in vulnerable tourists. Both Ricardo and Willie help Chris though the paper formality that is the medical insurance, police statement, motor insurance and where we will be staying now that our trip has been caught short in Rio Grande.
As suspected, Chloe arrived out of the X-ray room unbroken – a little jaded but well, with only a bruised thigh. We leave the hospital a few hours later with (new) friends Willie and Ricardo.
Willie and Ricardo drive us back to the scene of the accident to fetch our bikes and see the police, again. Upon arrival, we are greeted by a group of fellow bikers who had arrived from all directions to guard the bikes. All members of a bikers’ club in Rio Grande, they introduce themselves as a collective of the Los Lobos. One of them, (Guillermo, AKA Billy) offered to ride Chloe’s bike to our temporary home in Rio Grande, i.e. Willie’s house.
Fortunately Chloe’s bike only sustained superficial damage and is working fine. Let’s say it now looks like it’s “been there and done that!”.
An MRI scan taken of the offending leg a few days later confirmed no structural damage was sustained, just swelling and bruising to the tendon above the knee cap.
Armed with the family pet Lola, Chloe begins the recuperation.
Willie invites us to stay for as long as we need, taking our time so Chloe can get back to full strength and in true Argentine style we celebrate Chloe’s lucky escape and our new found friends with a must-have asado!
With time to kill and Chloe’s recuperation in full swing with cute little dogs, reading books and drinking tea, Chris made for the hills of Tierra Del Fuego and Lago Yehuin.
Upon his return Chris came back to find Chloe in deep discussion with Guillermo who had recently spoken to Carlos about the damage to his car. It is very common for Argentinean insurance companies to take up to 3-4 months to settle a claim, and Carlos was not happy about having to wait so long. With that, it transpires it is not his car, and that he has to get it fixed immediately. He needs cash…. Now.
Having graciously declined to give him cash up-front, things turn from bad to worse when Carlos threatens to raise a court order, preventing the bike from leaving Argentina. Our unofficial guardian, Guillermo, is less than enamored by Carlos and his threat, so suggests we sidestep Carlos’s game-play before the order has been sanctioned, scurrying Chloe’s bike over the border under the cover of darkness into Chile. Thus, the bike would be free to carry on north, although unable to return into Argentina.
The next day, the plans are all set. We have transport arranged and a place in Chile to store the bike – we are all ready to execute ‘Operation Chile’ that evening. However, just in the nick of time, as Guillermo is knocking at the door to collect us for the mission, Carlos calls. Having realised the cost of raising the court order would far exceed the cost of repairing the car himself, he backs down. And we can breathe a sigh of relief.
In celebration we have another asado!
(Not entirely true – Guillermo invited us to a Los Lobos gathering where a huge asado was put on by one of the members who was about to embark on his own adventure into the wilds of Argentina and Chile for a few months.)
Day by day the swelling and the bruises subside although movement in the knee is restricted. This photo was taken after one week, at the peak of the bruising – we felt this needed to be shared with you for your faraway sympathy! Oocha !
As a welcome distraction we ventured out to the Estancia of Maria Behty 15km outside Rio Grande. The Estancia has just begun its process of sheering its 5000 sheep, something at which we were welcome spectators.
But it wasn’t long before Lola was back where she belonged.
11_12_16 rio grande (16)
After 15 years of ‘talk’ Chris finally had the opportunity to live out one of those ‘one day I will’ promises! Jose Luis, partner of Willie’s eldest daughter, is a Tattoo artist. So, without too much persuasion and plenty of recovery time on his hands, Chris thought it was time to take the plunge!
Not being the toughest cookie in the jar, it took only 5 minutes before Chris fainted!
Two hours later, no more fainting and the job was done.
A few days later, Chloe still on the couch with Lola and Chris having recovered from the torment of his tattooing, it was time for a test ride on Chloe bike. Chris took it for spin, passing it with flying colours…. a little wild life spotting while on route never goes amiss either.
A few days later – watching the turning on of the festive lights in Rio Grande with Lola close at hand.
. . . and as the recovery continued the boys went out to play! LETS MAKE FIRE FIRE FIRE!!!
….. Plus another little trip to Ushuaia for some Adventure Bike Warehouse promo shots…!
So, here we are, still waiting on one little leg’s recover, hoping to be back on the road by next week, then heading west and up for Christmas….
Before we go, we are truly thankful to everyone in Rio Grande for helping us; Willie and family for letting us stay in their house (you are legends!). Guillermo (Billy) and family for helping us through the insurance claim and doctors visits! Ricardo and family for letting us keep our bikes at their house and being ‘first on the scene’, Sebastian for our legal advice, Lola for all her care and attention to Chloe and Jose Luis for the tattoo! And finally to the other members of the Los Lobos Motorcycle Club for all their support and help over the past few weeks – Muchas Gracias!
CIAO FOR NOW!
Ran a red light Chloe 1 v 0 Chris
Car Accident Chloe 1 v 0 Chris
Ambulance stretcher Chloe 1 v 0 Chris
Xrays Chloe 1 v 0 Chris
MRI Scans Chloe 1 v 0 Chris
Very brave little girl! Chloe 1 v 0 Chris
Fainted like a girl! Chloe 0 v 1 Chris