Ep. 17 – Argentina and Back to the U. S.

Ushuaia, Argentina to Miami, Florida

In this episode, I make a U-turn in Ushuaia and start my journey back to the United States along the long, straight, cold, and windy Ruta 3 in Argentina. In Buenos Aires, I make arrangements to ship my moto to Miami, familiar territory.

And for those that prefer moving pictures…

Ushuaia was cold and grey when I decided to mount up and head out.  There was also lots of evidence of snow the night before.  But, the euphoria of making it to Ushuaia still fueled my inner soul and I felt like nothing could ever stop me now.

As I made my way over the pass rising out of Ushuaia, I noticed I was getting closer and closer to the snowline… until I reached it, and then came head on into heavy snowfall.  It was cold, too, right at the freezing mark, and I began to notice what looked like slick spots on the road.  I eased my over one, and yes, with my front tire losing grip, I knew it was ice.  Luckily the pass takes you over the mountain in less than 20 miles, so I crept along and before I knew it I was back out of the snow and onto clean roads again.

Rio Gallegos is really too far from Ushuaia to make in one day, especially considering the two border crossings and the ferry you have to take.  So, I made my to Rio Grande and booked into the same hotel I had stayed in going south.  From here, it was time and distance back to Buenos Aires, where I had a date set to ship my bike back to the U. S.

The following day to Rio Gallegos offered some excitement in the form of 30 miles of dirt road that was in the midst of getting some heavy rainfall.  It’s the first testing road that I actually enjoyed, thanks no less, I am sure, to the pair of fresh Michelin Anakee Wilds (knobby tires) I was using.  Lots of slick mud and deep washouts, but I had a absolute blast scooting along.

I also met Kyrol from Luoisiana at the ferry, who is the beginning of his big adventure through South and Central America.

The next day to Comodoro Rivadavia was the longest day of my trip – 481 miles!!  But, I knew Ruta 3 was a good road and pretty featureless, so I did not mind the miles.  However, the wind is very strong and relentless, and the road is teeming with Guanacos, so at the end of the day I was exhausted.

I saw several adventure bikes still heading south along the way and wished them well with a big air fist bump.

Another long day in the wind to Las Grutas the following day.  Las Grutas was finally warm, about 85F, which I was very thankful for, although deserted, which was strange to me as it appeared to be a well-appointed beach town.  Oh well, I had the whole place to myself.

I saw prices rise steadily as I headed north, especially when I reached Bahia Blanca, a huge, modern town in central Argentina.  I had to dole out more than $100 for a night’s sleep – jeez!  But, at this point, I had less than a week left in this part of the world, and I was only two days from Buenos Aires, so I found it easy not to let things bother me.  I was happy to be back in civilization.

I decided to stop short of Buenos Aires in the town of San Miguel del Monte, about 2 hours to the south.  San Miguel is a vacationing town along a beautiful lake and I really enjoyed getting a chance to relax and after several long days.  I even washed the bike for the first time in months.

I timed it to miss rush hour traffic in Buenos Aires, but the traffic was still very heavy.

Eventually I made it to Sandra and Javier’s house, home of Dakar Motors, a shipping agent. There I handed over all the required paperwork and went through the process of getting the bike ready for shipping.  The moto would go on an airplane from Buenos Aires to Miami.

I met several other bikers there who were all at the end of their journey, including Klaus I has crossed the border into El Salvador with.

The following day I had to take the bike to the cargo area of the airport, but first I had to burn off nearly a half a tank of gas I’d so poorly thought out not to fill in the first place.  The moto had to be empty, or nearly so, or it wouldn’t pass checkpoint through customs or with the airline, we were warned.  But, I managed a loop outside of town and got to the airport right on time.

The process was pretty quick to get the bike ready – remove the windshield and mirrors, deflate the tires, disconnect the batteries, and stuff all of my riding gear into the empty panniers.  The panniers were empty because only the bike, tools associated with the bike, and riding gear could be shipped.  Which meant everything from my tent to clothes would have to be checked with the airline when I was scheduled to fly out.  The whole process took about four hours, including getting the go-ahead from the Aduana. Oh, and I had to weigh the bike – with just the bike and my riding gear and tools, the bike weighed 301kg, or 663 lbs!!!  Wow!!

The next day I ventured in Buenos Aires, by taxi, to pay at the shipping agents office.  To ship the moto from Buenos Aires to Miami costs $1790.  While in town, I took in the sites including the Casa Roja (Red), which is analogous to the White House in the U. S.

Saturday, March 11, 2017 was my last day in South America and I headed to the airport to catch my flight home.  I say home, but I knew my trip wasn’t over just yet.  I still had a little over two months to meander my way back to Seattle on the west coast.

But, I was beginning to feel a flood of emotions about my trip and knew that in the coming months I would reflect on the trip quite a bit.  I felt like I had accomplished something big, something that lots of folks dream about, and knew it would be important to really share everything about my experiences, which would take time.

I finally arrived in Miami after a missed connection in Bogota around 3 in the morning.

I was exhausted and needed sleep, but was excited to learn that my bike did not miss a connection and was waiting for me to pick up the following day.  The process of receiving the bike was easy, once I found the right office in the cargo area of Miami’s huge airport.  I was in and out in about 3 hours and, after eight months exploring Central and South America, I was back on two wheels in the United States!!

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4 thoughts on “Ep. 17 – Argentina and Back to the U. S.

  1. Really enjoyed your blog. Unique in that it had the video narrative which was great. Keep them coming till you are back home, home.

  2. Congratulations Brent! Ray Pagon and I were talking about you in TAPS class this week. I don’t know how much longer I’ll serve, so I’m starting to prepare for other options. If my kids weren’t so young, I would have to consider taking a sabbatical too.

    1. Good to hear from you, Lamont! Thanks for the kudos, and yes, the sabbatical was a blast and worth it in every way. Cheers! ~brent

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