The second accident (near miss)

You know what’s the good thing about people who use to run traffic lights? They do have the habit of observing the incoming traffic even when they have a green light, so it’s likely they will be able to avoid a collision with some other driver running a red light when they don’t 🙂 Same with me… I always follow very close to the vehicle ahead of me so I always expect to be followed and I keep checking the mirrors. And that’s what saved our lives yesterday!

We were riding North on Ruta 3 close to Buenos Aires. That day we did some 950km (the average being around 500). Even though it was night and fog, we had to reach La Plata on that day, as we had to be at the Romanian consulate in Buenos Aires (50km away) in the morning to get some papers.

At some point, the two lane road was on top of an embankment and the verge was narrow. That’s were I found a column of vehicles stopped ahead of us. I began slowing down with the intention to stop on the narrow verge (I generally stop between lanes in order to spare myself of injury in case someone can’t break on time). Before stopping I checked the mirrors and I found that the vehicle behind me still had a very high speed, much higher than it was supposed to be.

I decided to continue on the embankment (the gradient was not that high, but still the condition of the surface was unknown). The car I mentioned hit very hard the car ahead of me (which was now immediately to our left) which in turn began rolling inexplicably to it’s right (towards us).

As the second vehicle got closer than 0.5m from us, I continued to descent on the slope while at the same time increasing the speed in order to avoid a collision. The ending was happy for us, as I managed to keep the motorcycle under control on the uneven surface covered with grass, climb back and return to asphalt!


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The Patagonian plateau

What you see in this picture is what we saw for about 5000km 🙁 I can hardly remember any other situation that bored me more. But one thing is sure: many bikers and other adventure travelers follow this route, and I planned doing the same because I thought they all knew what and why they were doing.

But now, after spending weeks riding straight lines in the middle of nowhere, I strongly advise against doing the same. Probably the Western route (through the mountains) is better, but we could not follow that because of the winter.

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Technical dificulties

The last five days have been full of incidents. Not a single day has ended without problems!

Day 1, Tierra del Fuego national park, pic 1 and 2:

After admiring the sights in the park, I returned to the bike only to find the rear tire flat. I began looking after the replacement tube and I found out that the correct tube has been mistakenly installed in the front wheel (during the last visit at the tire shop) so actually I had to remove two wheels and take two tires out. In addition to this, I only had compressed air for ONE tube. So I had to ask a tourist to call the park rangers, take the wheels to the fire brigade and use their air compressor to complete the repair.

Day 2, en route from Ushuaia to Rio Grande

Again, flat tire. Air reserve depleted, so once again take the wheel out, hitch-hike back to Ushuaia and then to the bike etc.

Day 3, en route from Rio Gallegos to El Calafate, pic 3 and 4

After riding some 80km suddenly I lost power. After inspecting everything I found out the chain (purchased brand new just 8000km ago and made in Japan) was missing. After a 20 minute search and rescue operation spanning over 1000m we found the chain in the bushes with the master link broken. Of course I had no replacement (since the new chain came with only one master link and the old one was OEM endless type) so I had to stop an empty truck (that took nearly one hour) load the bike, take it back to Rio Gallegos, solve the problem. The driver was so nice, he didn’t even accept our money for the trouble, all he wanted was a bill of Romanian currency for his collection!

Day 4, en route from Rio Gallegos to Caleta Olivia, pic 5

Again, labor strike! I don’t know who and why was protesting this time, but as a result the tankers supplying gasoline to Rio Gallegos area were not allowed to pass. One day earlier, waiting lines at gas stations have been longer than the ones I saw during the first gulf war! But on that day, there were no more lines because there was no more gas to wait for. So we left with only 60% of a full tank, hoping to make it to the first gas station. That was not the case, and we ran out of fuel while in the middle of nowhere and during a storm. But this situation was more tricky than you might think it was: since there was no gasoline in that area, there were also no gasoline fueled cars on the road. Just diesels! So I had to hitch-hike once again until I reached a restaurant were I was lucky enough to find a gasoline powered car that spared 9 liters with us. Nine liters of gasoline might not seem much, but when you are with an empty motorcycle in the middle of nowhere, that’s a fortune!

Day 5, Puerto Madryn

As I stopped in front of a hotel, I noticed the water pump that I replaced in Peru is leaking!!! 🙁 Somehow, everything that is related to Peru is causing delays…

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The colony

Wherever we go, we try to find a point with a higher altitude from where we can get a better understanding of our surroundings. While exploring the hills North of Ushuaia we found this strange colony. Everything seemed very provisional, just like a work camp, but actually that was a permanent settlement. See for yourself!970 ush971 ush972 ush973 ush974 ush975 ush

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The prison

The old prison is nowadays home to all municipal museums, covering such aspects as ship navigation in the area, flora and fauna, the discovery of Antarctica, the colonization of Tierra del Fuego and marine related art.

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