After transiting in Santiago, Chile, I arrive in Mendoza, Argentina and am welcomed back to the B&B I’d stayed at previously. It’s Barbecue night! Argentinians really know how to grill meats over coals and it was a great evening. There was a mixture of beef and offal, and while I recognised most of it, sometimes it was better just to close my eyes and chew...
I turned in early, it had been a long journey.
Next day I retrieved my bike and my riding gear. It had been sitting under the eaves of the house and was covered in dust.
I reconnected the battery and it came to life at the first push of the starter.
I needed to get the bike out of Argentina quickly. Its TIP (temporary import permit) was about to expire, and the consequences for overstaying are severe.
When I left the bike in Mendoza, it was because winter had arrived and the passes across the Andes were closed by snow. They had been closed all the time I had been away, and while there was talk of the pass opening soon, there was no certainty and I had just a few days left. Luckily the pass re-opened the very next day and I headed across and into Santiago, Chile. The road in the pass was thankfully dry although there was snow all around.
I had no faith in my ability to handle wet or slushy roads. My tyres were completely worn. They had taken me 24,000kms from when I flew the bike into Chile, north to Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and back south through Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and now back across the Andes into Chile once more.
My hotel in Santiago was keen for me to bring the bike inside and off the street for the night, so not for the first time, the bike enjoyed the comfort of the hotel lobby.
During the night I hear that snow has closed the pass again behind me. It’s not uncommon, as winter draws to a close.
The very next day I visited the guys at Motoss, an adventure bike rental company who have a workshop and accessories division. I had ordered tyres for my bike months ago and they were holding them for me. It’s not so easy to get tyres for larger bikes like mine in South America. Most of the bikes here are small commuter-type bikes and scooters, so it’s important to plan tyre purchases ahead of time.
Motoss is located in a residential street and it looks much like any of the houses on the street. I’m not sure if I’m at the right place until someone hears my bike outside and opens the security gate for me.
Inside it’s like an Aladdin’s Cave for adventure bikers. Thomas, the owner, has about 30 GS’s and KLR’s out on hire, and he’s prepping more bikes to be ready to go.
There’s also a good selection of clothing and accessories.
The guys in the workshop are quick to change my tyres. I have bought brake pads and oil filters with me and I get a service done while I’m there.
Riding away with my new rubber beneath me feels great. It’s hard to believe how awful it is to ride on those worn tyres but it happens slowly over time, so it begins to feel normal until the new ones are fitted! For anyone looking for tyres or work done on a bike in Santiago, I can highly recommend a visit to Thomas at Motoss.
As predicted, the pass re-opens the following day and I climb into the Andes once more. With fresh snow on the ground and freezing temperatures at the pass, it’s a slow grind for the hundreds of trucks labouring up ‘the stairway’ that leads to the tunnel.
Before long my documentation at the border is complete and both the bike and I have another 3 month permit for Argentina.
As we head down the pass we leave behind the clouds and the cold. With a tail wind, sunshine on my back, and the hum of fresh tyres, the downhill run out of the Andes is a delight.
Hola Argentina - again.