03.02.17. Rio Gallegos, Argentina
The three of us (Paul, Patrick and I) left early yesterday morning. 8am sharp, in the cold. We were hoping for a repeat of last week, where the long day with two border crossings, popping back into Chile, a ferry and Ripio roads went as smoothly as possible.
It wasn’t far to the first border, just 40 miles or so, and after a quick refuel, we were soon standing outside Argentinian customs with our exit stamps, and the first part of the procedure done. The second part was just as swift, in the Chilean side, just 10 miles down the gravel road. Patrick especially had not been looking forward to the repeat performance of riding the gravel, so he went ahead to go at his own pace. His own pace turned out to be pretty fast! As he pulled off his helmet at the Chilean customs he said- ‘it was ok’. Well that’s good as there was still another 25 miles to go, through the road construction.
As we waited, one of the YPF (petrol) tanker drivers came over and asked me a few questions about the bike. By this point in the day we had probably overtaken him twice already, so he’d had a good chance to have a look at us. He carried on the conversation with Paul, when he returned from customs, before we overtook him one last time before setting off onto the gravel section.
Once again Patrick went in front and set his pace. It was nowhere near as windy as last week, which certainly helped. It was ok, as good as it could be, but oh boy, it’s certainly a lot nicer when you get back to the lovely smooth stuff. We stopped immediately at the end of the gravel, to catch our breaths and have a moan!
The journey continued through Chile for another 85 miles, before landing us back at the end of the road, where the only way to the other side is by taking the ferry. We had been a little concerned about this part, as last week when we crossed there was a huge queue waiting to cross back to Argentina. This time we were lucky, there was only 5 cars and a lorry full of smelly sheep, or so we thought!
There was a ferry coming in, so there was just time for a quick biscuit before getting back onto/into the bikes for loading. We then sat there like fools, as a huge stream of petrol tankers, including our new mate, came from around the corner (they had been hiding out of view!), and filled up the ferry, before sailing off into the distance.
We leapt off the bikes, had another biscuit, and then, miraculously, another empty ferry arrived. This time we could get on, or could we? Paul turned on the ignition, and ………… nothing, no electronics!
We still got on that ferry with a combination of rolling down to the slope, then leaping off and pushing the sidecar up the ramp and onto the deck. The crossing was a lot smoother (and warmer) this time, and Paul and I went up on decks to see where we were going and had the pleasure of viewing a few Hector’s dolphins. They are native to the area, and are tiny.
The crossing takes 20 minutes, so before long we were running down the ramp pushing the bike off the other side. We both had a feeling that we knew the problem, probably a loose battery terminal again, the same as had happened in Nicaragua. Fingers crossed anyway.
I think we quite impressed Patrick by getting on with the process of tank cover removal, checking the battery, and having a quick check of the bikes on board brain with our diagnostic computer tool. It was just a loose terminal, so in no time at all Paul had it tightened, and everything packed away, whilst Patrick enjoyed his Cafe au lait.
So, with three of the day’s four hurdles already dealt with and it not even 2pm, we were all in good spirits.
Before too long, the last hurdle was also out of the way. Hopefully what will be our last border crossing until we leave Argentina in a couple of weeks time.
The ride back in to Rio Gallegos was smooth and quick, and we were happy to see the Brazilian motorcyclist who we have seen most days over the last week, was already at our hotel.
We went around to the parking behind the hotel, got off, and started to unpack, before Paul said ‘listen’, and our great friends Tracy and Troy turned into the car park!
Troy and Tracy are still making their way to Ushuaia, and although in Chile just two days ago, had managed to find time to come and see us, for one last time.
We had a great evening with the five of us, talking about our adventures and making plans for the future.
We said a fairly tearful goodbye to those great guys this morning, we wish them all the best for their onward journey, and can’t wait to see them again in Alaska, or the UK!
Patrick has headed off northward, whilst we opted to stay another night. No doubt we will meet again in a few days, as our route and destination is the same. Things are becoming very real, we are in talks with the freight company about flying the bike home, and have a provisional date of Sunday 19th February for being back in the UK…………….better get our thermals on!