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Likely our last real riding day with Sparkles and El Higo was the stretch
between San Pedro and Buenos Aires. Thirty miles or so out of town,
Sparkles rolled over 39,999.9 miles into the golden years of 40,000.+
Thanks Sparkles for getting me this far. It's been a great ride.
Our first stop in the 3-million-strong city of Buenos Aires was a
motorcycle shop. After a couple tries and lots of directions, we found a
certified Kawasaki dealer. Since this country has a 100% (yes, *100%*) tax
on everything (yes, *everything*) that is imported, buying a couple gaskets
cost me about $100. While I was in the store, Derek guarded the bikes
which were still loaded with all our belongings. A crowd quickly formed.
When I returned, he'd made several new friends. Two in particular, Norm
and Norma, we very friendly. Just as we were about to part ways, they
asked us to join us in their home for a traditional parrilla (meaty
barbeque) the following afternoon. So sweet! We happily accepted.
The trusty Horizons Unlimited website/forum had helped us locate a hostel
with parking in the city. The Kilca Hostel, with a big sunny courtyard,
was exactly what we needed. We successfully replaced the valve cover
gasket and the o-rings on the four valve cover bolts. One or more of those
gaskets had had it; with fresh ones installed, the oil fountain ceased.
Over the next few days, we also replaced the rear brakes and the battery.
Good old Sparkles had gotten me all the way from Seattle to B.A. with very
few problems. She was a bit tired, a bit cranky and demanding some
At the hostel, we met Max, a fellow motorcyclist. Max began his trip in
England and drove to South Africa on a 1983 BMW650. He has been on the
road for about two years. The next leg of his journey will take him
northward eventually up to the states where his future bride is waiting. I
won't usurp his life for our blog, but believe me when I say: this guy had
some amazing stories. Safe travels, Max! I hope all your crazy plans come
Meeting with "The Norms" (as we called them) for lunch was spectacular.
Though we are still having a bit of difficulty with the Argentinian accent
and grammar, we managed to talk about local customs, social issues, our
families, travel and a myriad of other things. Norma's home and two
daughters were lovely and welcoming. We feasted on three types of sausage,
and several different cuts of beef they'd carefully cooked over the coals
from a wood fire (no store-bought charcoal here!). We were very fortunate
to have met them!
We spent much of the remainder of the week attempting to organize the sale
of the motorcycles. Sad as we are to see them go, we are quite relieved to
be replenishing our bank accounts which have sunk to a measly few hundred
each. Since it is not legal to sell a foreign motorcycle to an
Argentinian, we were organizing a sale to fellow tourists. A couple days
were spent waiting for potential buyers to inspect, test ride, and haggle
over the bikes. By the end of the week, we'd shaken hands over each of the
bikes. We made plans to make the swap on the ferry to Colonia, Uruguay the
We did manage to see a bit of the city between errands and appointments.
Buenos Aires is a very large city. With Seattle as my reference point, I'd
look at our map, pick an interesting point 15 or so blocks away, and assume
it would be a nice walk. But the 15 blocks would take over an hour to walk
and was generally made more difficult by the abundance of un-scooped puppy
poop! Along the route, the buildings and people generally represented a
mish-mash of European ancestry. (Derek and I were asked for directions on
more than one occasion. It's quite nice to be able to blend in a bit
more.) The city's schedule is also a bit extreme: Many things are closed
from 1-5pm for the siesta, but the average night on the town lasts until
6am. One girl in our hostel had swapped schedules with a housecat,
generally waking around 5 pm, lounging around for a few hours, disappearing
all night, and returning around 9am every day.
Though the weather was generally beautiful, on Saturday, Guido, the hostel
owner, said, "You may want to bring your towel inside. It is going to
rain." "Really?" I said, looking at the somewhat cloudy sky. "Yes," he
smiled, and turn skyward. "In one hour or so." Almost to the minute, an
hour later, it began to pour. In Buenos Aires, the rain is tropical. It
falls in fat drops and in huge quantities. This rain has more water
pressure than any shower in Latin America. Later that night, amidst this
rain, with our new friend Matthew, we went for a final outing with the
Norms. Shouting our goodbyes over the roar of the rain and Pink Floyd's
greatest hits made us all a bit hoarse. We were deposited at our hotel and
hugged our final hugs around 3am. By about 3:10 we were sound asleep. At
about 4:30, I was awakened by what sounded like a river. "Boy the rain is
loud," I thought to myself before I rolled over. At 4:31 I heard Derek
cursing and scrambling out of bed. I hear my name. Uh-Oh. The light goes
on. The roof has sprung a leak. There is a waterfall of water, pouring
through the roof, directly into my open bag. Wow. Our things are thrown
into the dry hallway and some onto one of the upper bunks. I ascertain
that my camera was spared and my important documents seem safe inside their
plastic sleeve. We crawl back into our beds and let the cascade sing us to
Though our things are soaked, no damage was done. Huzzah!
Our last Sunday in town consisted of a few more errands and a visit to the
famous San Telmo market which has gobs of cool antiques, second-hand
clothing, handmade bits and bobs, and all sorts of other interesting
things. There were several variations of the tango band playing away on
the street. We walked our feet raw, then returned to the hostel for a final
repacking of our bags. It will be strange and difficult to carry all our
things on our backs. We are constantly giving things away and discarding
things we think we won't need.
Hopefully all goes well with the trade tomorrow!
PS: Bumps for Matthew! You really helped us out and we can't thank you
enough. We look forward to seeing you (and maybe your new motorcycle) in
August in Seattle!