Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Plan/Not-Plan

Hello, it's been so long!

Today I came ton ramble about that way of travelling of with I fell in love, in which the "Plan" is not to have a plan... as the tittle goes, the Plan/Not-Plan.

What do I mean?

     Me in a moment of my trip I decided to travel with no fixed course, without a plan that tied me to go through some places and leaving some other on the side. So I've been stating for a while that I travelled with out a plan; always clarifying that even that could change.

     And I understood along my kilometres travelled that hat thing of travelling completely without a compass is impossible. Or almost impossible; for me it hasn't been possible yet. Every time I went on the road, I needed an objective even if it was far away; a north to  use as a reference.
     Fir example: when I was in Great Britain, I was sure to go all the way to Scotland. The cities which I visited in England, or the little lost Scottish towns I visited, where not written down in any paper at the beginning. But Scotland sure was.

     I decided some years ago that I wanted to go around the world. And not s long ago I clarified that the "round" thing was very figurative, because there is nothing round in my trip. I have the motivation to visit a big part of the world, but if I do it in a lot of small trips, or in one of many years, I do not know.

I have a plan of not having a plan. And even that plan can change.

Today I am at the verge of a new trip. I am going to stop travelling alone. I am going to travel accompanied. And we are planning where to go without planning.


Where are we going to travel? It looses its importance. The trip is always an inside one; and my trip just duplicated itself: we have two insides to go around.

Don´t forget to be happy! Whatever you do!
See you around the world.

Friday, June 20, 2014

From Baires to Resisencia, 1000KM in 3 days in a little motorbike

     After Buenos Aires I wanted to visit a friend, Julia, who lives in Resistencia, the capital of the province of El Chaco. And the the preparations and visits to friends, and family dinners and festivities, I set out on the road again. I was going to stay just for a weekend after having gone through the Patagonian Coast, but being so close to Pesaj I decided to spend it with the family. And since because of those extra days Easter Holiday got closer, I decided to go on a hurry so I could profit the holidays away from the city with Julia.

The Hospital of Villaguay, in a night stroll
     After doing the maths, it was going to take me three days to go all the way with an average of 360 kilometres (~220 miles) per day, so I needed to think were I would spent my nights. For the first night I had it easy, since my great friend Ariel "Irumbe" Seneski lives half way in the province of Entre Rios, in Villaguay, some 400 km (~250 miles) from Buenos Aires. The visit was short, but I left with the promise of spending more time in my return to the Capital city. It took me 8 hours to make the trip, despite having gone by the shortest route and having stopped for lunch. That day I got the feeling that I was getting better used to the bike.
Just Julieta by a windmill, in Entre Rios

Dinner on the road

    For the second night I was a little bit more complicated, because no one from CouchSurfing had replied to me from any of the possible cities in my road, so I dived in the adventure of not knowing where I would sleep. From Villaguay I had two options in my horizon: Esquina or Goya. Esquina was recommended as a nice place to see, but it was much closer to Villaguay and implied advancing little that day. Goya is a bigger city, further away.

The Chapel of San Antonio de Padua
On the other side of the road, twilight
     When I got to the entrance to Esquina it was already getting close to the time of the sunset, but I still decided to try to reach Goya. I though that if I didn't find anywhere, I would pay for some cheap place. In the middle of the road I saw a small town and I wanted to try again that thing of knocking on doors and asking to be hosted. I asked the police person, and the y told me to try in the School. I went by the Church, and the priest told me that the had a big group coming for the weekend. In the School they clarified that they had lend the whole place to the church. In the house that rented room were no rooms available. And in the market I was told that they couldn't help me. Heartbroken and afflicted I continued travelling, until I saw a small Chapel on one side. In the neighbouring house there were some people, so I went closer to ask, and I was told that I could sleep without a problem in the gallery of the Chapel. It was covered, and had two entrances, so I was going to have good protection. I set up the tent to guard me from mosquitoes and bugs, and I was woken the next morning by a man who came to do some maintenance, and who reassured me saying that he didn't think anyone would come and that I could get up calmly.


     For my last day on the road I had a little less than 300 kilometres (~190 miles) to travel. I got an early start after a breakfasting mate, and soon I was on the crossroad of the Route 12 with the one I was travelling through the small towns, some 120 km (~75 miles) from Resistencia, 2 hours. Since it was past midday I asked for a cheap and good place to eat, and I was told to go forward some 40km until a Restaurant in Empedrado. But as it was as soon as I go out from below the roof of the Gas Station it started to drizzle, so I though "If I'm going to get wet, I'll go straight to Julia's!". And if I had given it a second though, or if I had known the road ahead of me, I wouldn't even have left the Gas Station, simply because of how dangerous it is, how crazy are some of the drivers from around, and the blinding rain that was falling.

     I did not think all that. I just go on the road, paid a lot of attention to my rear view mirror, and arrive soaking wet but happy to visit my friend who I hadn't seen in so long!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to get on the road with a 110cc Motorbike (formal introduction of Julieta)

     When after 30 months travelling I decided to go back to Argentina, one of the thing that motivated me was that I had left my belongings in the house of friends in Ushuaia. I hadn't left with everything well planned, and I did not know how long I would travel, so I didn't go through much trouble "I am leaving this to you, I'll be back for it in a few months" is all I said... and when I got to my last home, I also met my motorbike which I had deposited at Facu's: a Beta BS 110 of the year 2005 that I had bought from my brother a few years before moving out of Buenos Aires.

     When I got to Ushuaia, I went to see the bike. Having found beforehand how to reanimate a bike stopped for two years, I was going with the idea of finding out if she wanted to come back to life. I pictured it like the creation of doctor Frankenstein: I was going to give her the shock, and I would see if it worked or not. I took a liter of new oil, which I changed, I tried to start it. I kicked but it didn't start. So I thought of looking into the gas tank. I had forgotten the petrol, so I asked a little bit borrowed from the owners of the house and I kicked again.

Una foto de mi moto Julieta antes de pintarla

     It started! IT'S ALIVE!!!! I yelled with the utmost joy. And I think it was in that instant that I decided it: I was going to go riding a motorbike from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. A loyal companion such as her, who even with those year abandoned responds to my first carress, cannot be left behind.

     But one thing doesn't mean the other, and the fact that she started didn't mean she was ready to go on the open road. At simple sight the where two problem to overcome:

  1. How to refill the gas tank every 150km (100 miles), when in Patagonia there are time when the gas stations are separated 300.
  2. How to load the luggage I was going to have.
     I face the problem number 2 first. O started researching the Internet, asking friends, scratching my nugget thinking ideas, and finnaly I decided to build my own luggage rack. It wasn't any good to adapt the usual trunk, the most common in bikes, because I am at heart a backpacker, and a bacpacker travel with his backpack. And the pack doesn't fit in a little motorbike trunk. With all that, the rack I was going to have to build it from scratch.

     While I was planning the luggage rack, I notice that the seat wasn't going to be able to open, and it is neccesary to open it to access the gas tank. So, besides a jerrycan in case I couldn't find gas stations in my road, I need a "quick access" to the tank. And researching a lot on the Internet, I didn't find any solutions. So again I had to turn to my wits to solving out my life.

     And if that wasn't enough, looking at my bike I noticed it was a little gloomy, I that she could do with a face wash. So I dicided, amongs all the other things, to pain here a little.

¡And so I started working!

FIRST: The Paint

     This was relatively easy. I chose to do it with spray paint, because of its easiness. And today I would recommend doing it with more time and better paint. Even if spraying is faster and easier (and if you do it in the wood it doens't even stain!), the paint rubs off on everything it touches for a long time.

     The hard part that got me problem, where the back panels. For a moment I thought I wouldn't be able to put them back on, so if you are thinking of taking them out I recommend paying A LOT of attention on how the come out and how they should be put back in place. And also the one in the front wheel, for which it's necessary to take out the wheel to be able to take it off and paint it comfortably.

El estado anterior de mis paneles
This is how they were...
... and this is how the are.

Drying at the shade

SECOND: The Gasoline

     Seeing the impossibility of accessing the gas tank if the seat is blocked by the luggage, which is the only viable option I could see, I understood I had to look for a way to get to the tank. And as any good engineer, I know that the shortest way between two points is a straight line... And that is what I created: a hole in the seat to be able to access the gas tank with no need to raise the seat; and with no need to do modifications to the gas tank of the gas take to the engine.

     With the help of complex tool, I faced the job in hand. And since it is a complex job difficult to explain in words, I will let the pictures to speak by themselves:

The seat before starting
Taking the staples off to be able to work.
With a metal saw, I cut a circle in the plastic
And with a meat knife, the whole in the foam.

A little tape so it won't come apart.
And it is always good to mark the way things are going!
And with the help of a funnel, the gas goes in with no problem!

THIRD: The Luggage

     I was already fully aware of the reality that I was going to have to do it all myself, for better or for worse, therefore I was going around with an avid eye for materials! I found an old table that Juanchi gave to me, from which I got the metallic structure; from the Internet I got the idea that the rack would stand on the seat, so it doubled as a shock absorber; I measured the bike and draw posible desings; I talked to Facu so he would help me with the welding and tailoring of the structure; and a good day we installed it:

The structure, awaiting its welding.
The exact moment of the union

Some adjustments and redesigns
Last toches

Facu, posing besides the finished structure!


     And as expected, there were unforeseen things and some other fixing. For one, I knew I had yo clean the carburetor, air filter and change the gas filters.

     And also, one crappy day I got crashed into, and at doing so my front fender exploded. So I turned to sofisticated tools to fix it...

     After all that, she was ready. And she was named. From that day on she would be known as...


Monday, March 31, 2014

In a Motorbike through the Patagonian coastline! Uniting Ushuaia and Viedma!

That's crazy! How brave! That's insane!
This is how Julieta started the journey, tidier and less loaded, in the Garibaldi Pass.
     All those are valid things to say of someone who decides to do over 2000 kilometers at a maximum speed of 60 km/h (around 40m/h) and with compulsory stop every 150 km approximately (100 miles) to lead gas... in a road that sometimes for more than 400 km you cannot find a pump!!!

Important decision at the start of the 2nd day
     Well, I did not have all that information when on February the 19th I decided to leave Uhsuaia riding Julieta (that's the name of the bike!). And in my first 3 days I lived all the hard things I could live in the bike:
 - Day 1: I mounted the bike poorly dressed, and half an hour in the road I couldn't stand the cold. I stopped to take a picture, and I could barely keep the camera steady. Another hour later I stopped at Tolhuin to get a hot bite... and after that I did two hours with no stop to get to Rio Grande and being able to warm up!

The shelter in the middle of the Island

- Day 2: with wind of 45km/h (30m/h) and gusts of over 60km/h (40m/h) I hit the road. I did not think that through. Luckily I had the intelligence of not going to much in a hurry, and I stopped half way across the island somewhere I could find shelter.

End of the first stage, the cross in the ferry
from Provenir a Punta Arenas

- Day 3: Rain over the gravel. I did not have good rain clothing. And I don't have wheel for a gravel road. But at 30km/h (20m/h) you can get anywhere.

     And after that I equipped myself a little it better, and what was left for me to learn is to drive a motorbike on the route. You hand falling asleep, your ass hurting, the wind blowing the bike to hell, etc. Being so far south, I could only face the windiest region in Argentina!
This is how Punta Arenas welcomed me...

     Firstly I went from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, in the brotherly Chilean nation, and I walked a few days as I wrote about in the previous entry. I got there alone and ill equipped, and I left well equipped and with a new family!

... and this is how Puerto Natales wished me good bye!
Comparing sizes, boys things

The Memorial to the fallen soldiers in the Malvinas,
in Rio Gallegos
     After that excursion, I set myself the goal of climbing north the Route 3 by the Atlantic coast of Patagonia. The mountain part in the Argentinean side I already visit it several years ago, and since then I have wanted to see the coast. So I set off going to Rio Gallegos, the first city of my periplus. I met Clara, a fantastic girl who hosted me, and with Comando, from the biker group Depredadores del Camino, who hosted Julieta.

The road was already showing her contrasts between what is coming and what passed

     From Punta Arenas I was much better equipped, I had bought a set of technical pants and jacket, from Helly Hansen, that gave the protection from wind and water I was lacking. I even bought a waterproof bag that cost me few bucks, but which gave lots of extra space. And using all the cloth I could find, and that fitted me at the same time, I managed to fight the cold of the wind. Only the feet were missing, that for the time being the managed as they could with double socks and a lot of enduring.

First big change in the odometer
(the change to 31000 I missed it while fighting the winds of Rio Grande!)

Piedrabuena, a weird city...
     My next stop was Comandante Luis Piedrabuena, a small town where I switched mi plan of laying by the river to relax, for eating, drinking with Isabel and her friends, and practicing my skills in the sewing machine improving my saddlebags. (Regarding how I am loading my bike, and the modifications I did for the road, you'll be able to read better in a article that has not been written yet#)

... a very weird city.

The Bajo de San Julian, just before arriving to Puerto

     In my path the were two cities that I had thought about visiting for a long time: Puerto San Julian and Puerto Deseado. When I looked the wind forecast I figured that if I did the 100 kilometers (65 miles) to go into Deseado, I was going to get stuck because of the wind for almost a week. So I took the decision to skip this city and go directly to Caleta Olivia from San Julian, which made me riding the longest path till that time in one day: 360 km (220 miles), around 9 to 10 hours.

     To San Julian, which was only 120km (80 miles) from Piedrabuena and over the Route 3, I was able to go without any problem. And to sleep in this town I hadn't find any CouchSurfer, so I was thinking of looking up a very cheap Hotel; the camping, which is very cheap, I didn't want to go because for the long day I had ahead of me I had to leave early and putting the camp away takes a lot of time. But luckily Bea had told me about a cyclist who had slept in the Town Gym... so with by greatest charm I went to ask if I could stay there to sleep on night. And thanks to the request of el Cabezón, the janitor on duty, I was given lodging for that night.

I was thinking about making some stickers to give away, and I was about to get the best present for me!
     A separate paragraph deserves the stop I made in Fitz Roy (far away from El Chalten) in were I met Martin and another friend of his that had gone for a stroll in their bikes from Caleta, with whom I started a small chat. In said chat came out the subject of my ill advised snickers, and Martin decided to give me as a gift his security shoes! With 3 pairs of thermal socks! Great guy.

The road by the side of the sea...
     In Caleta I was treated as a god by Maxi and Eze, who hosted me as an "all inclusive" guest in their home. Watching movies and eating for two days, no touristing around. And since I had been invited by Beni to her place in Rada Tilly, I went for one night there which ended up giving me a night of sharing  with the sailors of Comodoro. I started thinking of going back sailing. The greatest part of this part of the road is that, as I had been told by the Tourist Information guy in Caleta, the kilometers between Caleta and Comodoro Rivadavia are the only ones IN THE WHOLE RUTA 3 that are by the coast of the Sea... Very cool! Rada Tilly I saw the beach!

     Already very close, my next big destination was the Peninsula de Valdes, where I was going to sleep in Puerto Piramides at Paula's, a friend who I had met in my days in Ushuaia. But before arriving I needed an intermediate stop, so I stopped in Trelew a shared some days with Kico and Pryda, with whom I shared a delicious meat pie and a stroll in the "welsh" town of Gaiman.

     And I arrived at Puerto Piramides and the long awaited Peninsula. I had been told it was Orca season, but I missed them. What I did enjoyed was going around half the peninsula, walking around the beach and seeing a spectacular sunset, and of course the reunion with Paula, a friend I met in Ushuaia, and her boyfriend Gaston and cousin Damian.

The lookout point of Puerto Piramides

The bike, the tent, the beach... what else?
     I got to go to the beach! Thanks to the recommendation of Bea in Piedrabuena, first I visited the Playas Doradas, a small seaside town next to Sierra Grande with no one around. Almost literally, because on top of the town being almost empty, I got away from the town a couple kilometers to set up the tent on the sand and spend a day of complete solitude... that I luckily didn't manage to fulfill when I met a lady that was going "octopusing" and accepted showing me how it is done...and later gifted me a jar of pickled octopus!!!

Coming out, looking through the mirror the welcoming sign

     I also visited Las Grutas, almost compulsory, and although I did enjoy the beauty of its beaches and I ate a long looked for seafood casserole (looked for since Puerto Natales!), I couldn't enjoy the supposedly warmest waters of Argentine because the weather didn't come through and the wind was blowing a cold breeze.

The old bridge, getting out of Viedma

     And so, little by little, I got to the city of Viedma. First city in the Patagonia (twinned with Carmen de Patagones, and which for a long time was the same city). I already got a night's rest in Ana's house, with her parents Marco and Andrea, and I had a great stroll through this two city with another CS girl who was visiting, Marcela. I put here the recommendation of going to the museum in Patagones, because it's really worthwhile to listen the history in what for many years was the entry door to the land of the Patagones.

     I still have on night ahead of me before getting in the province of Buenos Aires, and a few days before coming back to visit the Capital city. Very far away can I see the end of this periplus in motorbike, so not get anxious that more stories are still to come.

Thanks for reading!
Don't forget to be Happy!

Big hugs from the Land of the Winds,


P.S.: one last picture, to explain to those who know the bike how I manage to fill the gas without disassembling the hold luggage holder!
The best modification in Julieta!