Meeting other people is an important part of this journey. So in this article I will write about the people we met during the last days.
07.01. – 09.01.
When we arrived in Bariloche we had significant difficulties to find accommodation. It is high season. After we asked ourselves through around 10 hostels, we find a pearl – Bariloche Inn. The view over the Lake Nahuel Huapi is a stunner. And it was because of the weather, why we booked in for two nights. We can walk around in shorts! I can not remember when I wore shorts the last time.
We were sitting on the terrace relaxing in the early afternoon on our second day in Bariloche, communicating with home over internet. We get into a conversation with Eli from the States. He sits on the terrace reading a book from Stephen King. I try to tell his story as good as possible.
Eli comes from a poor background. When he was 18, 19 years old, his best friend committed suicide. Too young to handle it, he buried himself into computer games, in particular in strategy games.
Eli then got a job at Microsoft. There he was involved in the development of the game “Ages of Empire”. Ages of Empire is a so-called real-time strategy game in which the objective is to build an economy and to conquer other countries and nations. At Microsoft he mainly played. His task was to test the artificial intelligence of the game, so that the different opponents and nations with their different qualities are about equally strong. As he says, he was one of the best in the world. After about a year he was exhausted. It was not uncommon to work 80-100 hours a week.
He also always played a little bit poker. Since five years Eli is living from playing poker. When he talks about it, he calls it Work. He is not rich, but can get along from his job. At some point in his live he has rented a house with a business partner and they were running an illegal poker casino. Once they got robbed, so they installed security doors and hired sheriffs, who wanted to earn some money, as security guards.
Someone squealed on them and the house was stormed by a SWAT team. Due to the security doors, it took a while until they got in. Eli said, he had his arms folded behind his head, waiting and watching on a monitor how the forces needed a good 15 minutes to break the security doors. As a result, he spent three days in jail and is not allowed to vote in the states anymore.
In the United States, professional poker players, who earn their money at online casinos don’t get a bank account at a local banks. I can not remember whether this is regulated by law, or if just the banks do not allow it. Many professional players have therefore left the country. Eli has lived somewhere in Asia for a year, at the moment he calls Mexico City as his principal residence. He is currently traveling in South America for a while before going back to work.
When we met Eli, we started with beer early in the afternoon. We drink slowly into the evening and clear the fridge. Sometime later the evening hunger makes us walking in the city center, where we had a steak.
Along the main street in Bariloche there is a indoor ice skating rink.
For Eli it is the first time since his childhood, that he is on skates again, but he is doing pretty well. I have not been on the ice for years, but I did Inline skating, so I am very secure on the skates. Andi played ice hockey for a long time, but had to stop due to a knee injury. He is the king on the ice, running forward, backward, jumping into the sky, … . A few people were waving him to the edge of the ice rink, asking him to give their children a little help. Half an hour on the ice can be pretty exhausting. Back at the hostel we know that we can’t leave tomorrow. It is about 3 in the morning, at home people already started working.
Today was a good day.
The next day, we woke up late, had breakfast, went back to bed for a couple more hours and then falling from one corner to the other on the couch. Andi cut his videos, I dedicated myself to the “Readheaded League” and other stories.
For a long time we ride along on a beautiful stretch of the Rio Negro.
Im sure the story gets pretty boring now. 40km from Neuquen Andi stopped again with a flat tire. We are so close to our destination. The tire dealers in Neuquen already waited to do business with us.
Andi tried to make it to a nearby village called Senillosa. But only 1 1/2 km before the village the tire was completely destroyed and is only partly on the rim.
I go from A to Z in the village until I finally find someone who has a trailer. We bring the bike to the only hotel in this village. At least Andi does not need to sleep in a tent.
I buckle Andis tire including wheel on my bike and continue to Neuquen. All hostels I ask through are full. In one of the hostels I can camp in the garden. It is the first time on my trip that I use the tent. The first time on my trip, that I unpack the tent at all. I’m curious, what state it is, after it has been exposed to different weather conditions – rain, snow, dust, cold , heat, … . It looks good. Even in my sleeping bag, I also unpack it the first time, there have settled no mice or other animals.
I drop off my motorbike at the BMW dealer in the evening. I am convinced that my bike is female now, it again wants new shoes. ;-) Nevertheless, I have 27,631km done with my front tire, that was a good deal. The sealing for the left front shock absorber is replaced as well.
Andis tire got installed now by a professional – I hope that we don’t have any further problems.
Around 1:30pm I am back at Andi. Meanwhile Andi has been offered help from Maximilian. Maximilian and his wife Alba live a few meters from the hotel. We got invited for BBQ by them, Argentinian style on charcoal. Like in Valdivia, again a lot of meat.
Maximilian is a policeman. He has two motorcycles and appreciates the quiet work here in the village and the surrounding area.
Andi and I leave in the late afternoon. We go further north and stop at “25 de Mayo”, a small town situated along the road.
Opposite the hotel there is a small grocery store, where we buy a few things. We then have a little chat with the shop owner in front of the shop. While we were talking, a policeman stopped and asked for the police station. The shop owner told him where to go. Then he asked, if we write a travel diary. Me: “Yes.” He: „I am sure that police in Austria does not ask where the police station is? But it happens here in ’25 de Mayo’. You can write that in your diary.”
12.01. – 14.01.
The district through which we travel was named after the landscape „La Pampa“.
Somewhere on the road we stop. Again there is a Honda African Twin with a flat tire on the roadside. It is Andreas, from Cordoba. The tire is already from the bike. Andreas tells us, that he it is the fourth time that he is fixing his tire. Cordoba is a maximum of 1,000 km away. Andreas from Argentina dos not have a tube that fits. Andi from Austria, gives him his patched tube. We helped him to install the tire and hope for him that the tube will be ok the next 300km to Neuquen.
Do people with the name Andreas, traveling with an African Twin through South America, in general have problems with Air in the tire? Or does a ride over 400km, mostly straight, through pampa, in the glistening sun, lead to confused thoughts?
Approximately 60km before San Rafael, believe it or not, we had to stop again. I’m not sure anymore if Andi has a vehicle for driving or for standing on the roadside. The fuel pump has failed. Since Andis motorcycle has a carburetor, he can bypass the problem. As long as the fuel in the tank is higher than the carburetor, gravity does it’s work and provides the engine with gasoline.
We get a funny mail from Steve, like: “… If this continues that way, Jürgen will soon regret having invited you on his journey … I’ve been thinking of to travel with you for a while, but if I see your problems, I am happy to travel alone … I’m sure I’ll catch you again soon, but do not be surprised if I just driving past you, without stopping … ”
The center of San Rafael can be done in a short time. The city does not encourage to linger for several days, but it is clean here and green. High deciduous trees in the wide streets provide extra shade. The streets are laid out in grid form, but before noon it is always possible to stay in the shadows.
Between 1pm and 5pm a lot of shops close. Siesta. Outside it is really warm now. We adapt to the local behavior.
On the last day in San Rafael Andi and I do a day trip to the Canon Atuel. I will not write again about how nice the track was, but let the pictures speak for themselves, but I have to mention the bath in the river somewhere on the track.
In the evening we pass by at a mechanic, who replaced Andis fuel pump the day before. My rack for the boxes got welded, which was broken and my motor oil got changed – with the help of the dachshund of the house.
In the hostel Andi and I were the only foreigners among all the Argentines. I experienced one of the nicest evenings on my trip. I was “forced” to talk in Spanish, they learned me “Truco”, a fun card game and I was drinking Mate, a typical South American beverage. Many thanks to all the people in the hostel for an unforgettable evening.
Muchas gracias a todos en la hostal, por una noche inolvidable.
We get an e-mail from Andreas from Cordoba, that he could do it to Neuqen with our patched tube.
Meanwhile, we are in Mendoza, where we met again with Renate and Bart – loyal readers know who they are. But I write about that more in the next article.
Thank you for reading, Jürgen