Day 73 – Salta to Presidente Roque Saenz Pena

Long day but AOK!
Woke up at 8 to get some breakfast and go change my tires and balance my wheels.
Turned out to be a long process that lasted till around noon but everyone was very nice, curious and impressed by the trip.
In the pictures you can see the missing counter weights, the chewed up and the good side of the tire and some other pics πŸ™‚
Back on the road with new tires and balanced wheels we left Salta after saying thanks to Alberto from Division 2 Ruedas and buying some chain lube for my bike.
We did about 600km today on a very straight and boring road – very humid as well.
We stopped a few times for gas and for breaks… tried to get food in this one town but everything was closed – Saturday + siesta time!
All throughout the day I listened to the TED Talks Podcasts instead of music – VERY cool – made time actually go by faster it seemed – well – depending on what speaker that is πŸ™‚ Very interesting projects, people, lectures and topics!
We arrived in Sans Pena at night and found a descent hotel to stay in…
Tomorrow the ride should be a little bit more interesting in terms of scenery and towns.
Right on schedule for our arrival in Sao Paulo around the 19th…

From Motorcycle NY to SP


Day 72 – San Pedro de Atacama to Salta

Wow – what a day – yes another one of those!
Breakfast, bike packing and gas routine in the morning. Last night we had dinner with Steve and a friend of his – a girl from Hong Kong who has been traveling through South America for the past 6 months alone! Great dinner and conversation.
Ran into two the Brazilian motorcyclists we had met at Valle de La Luna while we were looking for the gas station in San Pedro this morning – cool guys – they were going to the Pacific to check it out… we were heading towards the Atlantic πŸ˜‰
We did our Chilean exit at San Pedro in no time and we were on our way.
The road was pretty incredible – we went up and up and up – gently though – up to 4800 meters – got quite chilly but bearable.
My wheel wobble would come and go – I guess the rubber would wear down and the wheel would stabilize for a little while but then it would get unbalanced again – very annoying and very unsettling on the turns – the whole bike would be loose and did not feel very stable.
But we kept on trucking…
The Argentinean border was about 1 hour and half away from San Pedro and took a little longer just because there were quite a few people there at the same time but went through smoothly.
The descent from Suques into Purmamarca was quite nice – lots of incredibly tight turns. By that time I guess I got used to the wobbly bike and enjoyed it a little more but still definitely not at my full potential.
We stopped at a nice little hotel by the road where we had a quick sandwich. I asked at the hotel’s reception if they knew of any motorcycle stores or repair shops in San Salvador de Jujuy or in Salta. An Argentinean guest immediately jumped to help me calling a friend of his who gave him the phone number of the owner of a motorcycle store in Jujuy who in turn said that he had tires for my bike AND balance the wheels!
I was ecstatic… but did not last very long because once we got to Jujuy we found out that not only they did not have the tires, they told me that the only motorcycle wheel balancing machine was in Buenos Aires – and that there was only ONE there!
I think that was one of the lowest points of this trip – my tire was down to the bone – I could probably only drive on it for another day before it literally would rip apart – and even if I got new tires, without balancing the wheel, I would wear it down in another 6 days I think. I was miserable. I even started contemplating putting the bike on a truck and sending it to Brazil.
But there was still hope… Salta is a larger city so I asked the guys to find a tire in Salta for me… they did!! Not the exact same tire but it should do. And to balance the wheel I would go to a car mechanic and have him create some kind of an adapter to fit the bike’s wheel on the car wheel machine…
Off we went to Salta – only 70km away but took us almost 2 hours – we got some back road which was beautiful but my bad mood prevented me from enjoying it…
But then again it all changed when we got to Division 2 Ruedas in Salta! The not only had my tires but they knew of a guy in town who would balance my wheels!!
What a relief!!!
And what a great hotel we found for a great price! Now all showered and ready for some dinner!

Day 71 – San Pedro de Atacama

Short post today – slept in till a bit later than usual had some breakfast and then came back into the room to rest a little more.
Around 11 we took off on the bikes to explore the region. On the way we missed an exit and ended up on another route that turned out to be OK. Went to see these two lakes up in the mountains. Not bad but I think we got spoiled by the Valle de la Luna yesterday evening – that
was just spectacular – these lakes were very pretty but nothing too impressive.
On the way back we headed into the desert to see the Lago Sejas – aΒ lake with high concentration of salt where you float a lot – dirt roads and lots of sand – pity that the video battery died – I was doing a little off road, throwing some sand up in the air while Marc
was filming.
The lake itself was pretty cool as well… I didn’t swim in it just because I forgot my swimming suit and it would be annoying to put all my gear back on with salt all over my body πŸ™‚
Back at the hotel we ran into Steve, the American we met yesterday on the road on a KLR. He was going to the Valle de la Luna – we decided to stay in and rest some more… we’re going to meet later on tonight for dinner or drinks.

From Motorcycle NY to SP

Day 70 – Iquique to San Pedro de Atacama

What a day! Last night was kind of cool as well – we went around town to look for a restaurant and ran into Fernando, a local Iquiquean who showed us around and had a couple of beers with us at a bar/restaurant along the beach. Nice town.
Well… today started out with a wonderful breakfast on the 15th floor of the hotel we stayed in.
Then I went to the Yamaha dealer to see if they had a spare tube for my rear tire which I completely forgot to look for yesterday.
I ran into a Brazilian couple – Marcos and Antonela – www.motoconesul.com – who are rode from Brazil to Machu Picchu and are now heading back the same way we are going, just a day later than us!!
Then I met another motorcyclist – a Swiss guy on a Tenere 600 who’s name I didn’t get unfortunately.
The spare tube turned out to be a lot harder to find than expected but finally got it at a Michelin store.
We headed down the coastal road to Tocopilla – beautiful desert and ocean scenario!
At a checkpoint we stopped at a bar where we saw 3 bikes – another 3 were leaving. There was a 1200GS Adventure, an F800GS, and a KLR. The GSes were being ridden by a British couple in their 60’s – very cool couple – they had done the entire world already – amazing! They were going North though so our contact ended there.
The KLR was being ridden by Steve (southatsixty.blogspot.com) – an American living in Panama. He was going the same way as us.
My rear tire was still vibrating annoyingly so.
In Tocopilla we stopped for gas and to take a look at the wheel. Yesterday a mechanic said it was because the tire was being worn down unevenly, another said it was because the inner tube had formed a bubble. Finally the tire repair man in Tocopilla nailed it – some of the weights that balance the wheel out were missing!! The wheel was out of balance!! OBVIOUS!!
Unfortunately no one in that town performed that service.
So we kept on going and stopped in Calama to see if we found someone who would balance my wheel – no again. Nice little town though…
Then we arrived in San Pedro de Atacama!!
Before we got into to town though we took a right into the Valle de la Luna to see the sunset.
PERFECT timing – we got there – walked up the hill and saw the sunset.
We ran into 3 Italian guys who had rented 3 KTM 990’s just like mine in Santiago and were going up to the Salar de Uyuni – a stretch we skipped due to lack of time – next trip πŸ™‚
We also met some Brazilians who were traveling through the region on a van and 2 motorcycles. They gave me some good tips about the road we’re going to take through Argentina.
We have never ran into so many motorcyclists in this entire trip – was pretty cool – I guess this place is pretty special – so we also decided to take a day break here – our second PLANNED break so far πŸ™‚
The town is amazingly cute, full of tourists and nice hotels. We are staying at the Terrantai hotel.
Tomorrow we shall do some “real” tourism πŸ™‚

From Motorcycle NY to SP


Chile

I am loving this country and as I said previously it’s the “civilized” country of South America… and maybe a bit too “civilized”.
Check out their Coats of Arms:

Por la razon o la fuerza!!?Β 

By reason or by force!!?Β 
In these times of terrorism, political correctness, and ecology don’t you think they should consider changing this!?
Just feels a little creepy to me and reminds of me of Pinochet…Β 

Day 69 – Arica to Iquique

Allright!! Moving forward again!!
But first an update from last night… we ran into two Argentineans who were leading a motorcycle trip around this area… they were the guides of a group of friends who had already left back to Buenos Aires by plane. Nice guys…
This morning we went to court and my guess was right – we got summoned because the guy from SAG – Servicios Agricolas e Ganaderos – was pissed that the guys from immigration and customs were ignoring him and not sending people to his booth… well not quite like that but we were the second or third case this week which had missed some steps at that border.
The judge, a nice lady, who I think is one of the Argentinean’s “girlfriend”, took our statement and told us that since nothing wrong was found in our bags nothing would happen to us. She also said that she understood that the procedures were not too clear and said that there were some animosity between the public sectors at that border. Our statements would be used to improve that process!! Cool!
We then went to Carlo’s place to see if the parts (break pads and visor for helmet) were going to arrive today or not – they weren’t. So we decided to leave.
We thanked him profusely for his help and gave him a bottle of wine and one of whiskey.
As we were about to leave, Mauricio – Carlos’ son – stopped by to say goodbye and then proceeded to drive us out to the highway also giving us some tips on where to stay in Iquique!
Thanks to the Herrera Guierra family!!
Here’s Carlos washing my bike πŸ™‚

From Motorcycle NY to SP


The drive was ok – desert again but with some massive sand dunes again and a bit of crosswinds.
My rear tire is now wobbling a little at high speeds – annoying but nothing serious at all.
For some reason we were both tired and had to take some breaks even though it was only a 4 hour ride.
We got to Iquique and found a mechanic who had my breaks, used but in much better shape than the ones I had one!! I could not believe it! He also checked my rear tire and confirmed that there was nothing to do other than get new ones and not to worry about it.
Now at the hotel Mauricio recommended and going to dinner soon.
Very happy to be back in motion πŸ™‚

Day 68 – Arica

I guess we were tired from yesterday – we slept till around 10am today!
Around 11:30 Carlos stopped by to pick us up and go to “Marcela” – his garage/beach house where we… well… his employees washed and waxed Marc’s bike! Mine was done after lunch so we had to do it ourselves… oh… such a drag! Hehehehe…


I also took Carlo’s brand new Yamaha MT-01 1700 out for a spin… yes – not helmet and flip flops – fun though πŸ™‚ Not available in the US for some reason…


We also called up a mechanic who came to pick my rear tire up and fix the tube that we pinched when trying to put it back on – total amateur stuff. I got all the tips from him on how to do it now πŸ™‚
We had lunch at the same place we had dinner last night – DiMango – we weren’t able to pay again!
We have to find some present to give to him… we asked how could we repay him – he simply said that whenever a biker needed help in the future, we would help that guy – pay it forward πŸ™‚
We had a little bit of a scare though – he called up a friend who told him that it was impossible to go from Atacama into Argentina because there was an 800km stretch with no gas! My bike has a 250km safe range – 300km TOPs!
Turns out it IS possible – we checked the motorcycle forums (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/) – and got the information we need in terms of routes and distances between gas stations.
Turns out that I will need to take some gas with me – one extra gallon (4L) or two – probably will take 2 gallons just to be safe.
Tomorrow we have to go to court to explain why we went through the border without completing all of the procedures and probably pay a fine or hopefully just get a slap on the wrist. Let’s see.
Then we wait for the parts which are going to be purchased first thing tomorrow morning – we ordered a set of break pads for my bike and a new visor for Marc’s helmet. His visor got badly scratched the day my bike had the wiring problem – for the first time he left the helmet inside his side bag and with me riding it back and forth, the visor scratched against the inner metal walls of the case.
Soooo… we should be out of here on the 10th or in the best case though highly unlikely tomorrow afternoon.