Monday, December 13, 2010

Bike on its side again - wind at over 110 kmh

We left Rio Gallegos yesterday (I call it Rio Gale), known for being the worst place for high winds. The winds were not too bad yesterday, gusts up to 74 km/h. We tried to get fuel before we left town, but the gas stations were running out of fuel. There is a problem with the YPF gas company and the local administrators. This is putting pressure on the other gas stations, causing line ups of over 2 blocks in Rio Gallegos, but not as bad further South at the moment.

It wasn't too long before we had to exit Argentina and enter Chile. The Chileans are very careful and hand out big fines if you have fruit or vegetables and don't declare them. We had picked up an apple and a couple of carrots for our lunch stop, that we hadn't eaten yet. We should have ate them before going into the border office, as once we declared them, they were gone! The Customs Agent (Aduana) took them away and wouldn't let us eat them on the spot. Not only did he confiscate our apple and carrots, but he walked away with my packaged olives as well! Even after he told us that they were okay to take into Chile. Grif called after him, but the Agent ignored him. So Grif went up to his face and told him that we wanted them back. Cheeky!! We did get them back, but kicked ourselves for not eating the other stuff before we crossed the border. We had forgotten how fussy they are in Chile about fruit and veg.

Our next stop was the ferry across the Straits of Magellenes. The water was rough, white caps everywhere. We quickly ate our sandwiches and I went up onto the viewing deck. Grif wanted to stay with the bike and make sure that it wouldn't topple over from the high waves. Grif came up shortly after, soaking wet! A big wave came over the boat and completely drenched him!

After the ferry ride we stopped an hour later for gas. This was the first chance we got, not getting any before we left Argentina, we needed to get some, even though we had 5 litres left, two Italian guys on big BMW bikes were down to their last litre !!!  Since we were now in Chile, there wasn't a gas problem.

We made our way across the border again, back in to Argentina. We saw quite a few foxes along the way (to add to our wildlife sightings). We made it to Rio Grande and found a hotel, albeit expensive. We travelled 397 km. We went to a Carrefour, the first of the trip (big French supermarket chain). What a treat, we found whole wheat buns!!

In the morning, we checked out of the hotel after having breakfast. The winds were howling throughout the hotel and Rio Grande. Knowing that we had ridden on other gusty days, we thought we would give in a shot. We barely made it out of town... possibly the last traffic light and went down.Gri'fs legs were down, but the wind was just too strong to hold the bike upright, damage assessment: sore bums and Grif's pannier is a bit more bent than it already was... luckily we were only doing about 5 kmh..... That was our hint, turn back and do not travel. We picked up the bike as it took both of us to pick it up against the wind, and Grif turned the bike around. The wind was so strong, I had to help Grif get the bike off its kickstand because of the wind, and not to mention his dodgy knee and shoulder!

We went back to the same hotel, but it was fully booked. We were able to park Sammy there and walk around on foot to find some other accomodation. Trying to walk around town was difficult. I would pick up my foot and realize that the wind would carry it right into Grif, as if I was intentionally kicking him... At times I was almost blown off the sidewalk and had to stand at 60 degrees. We found a much cheaper place with great parking, one block from the ocean and very cozy!

So today is a catch up day, until the winds subside tonight... then we're outta here tomorra!!

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