Enjoying the last few days around Ushuaia. I’m taking it in because I know there is some serious drama and challenges coming right up!
A view to Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel from the mountain.. There’s supposedly a glacier up here. We haven’t found it but I’m getting some good exercise!
The time came to leave the local disturbing Santa behind in Ushuaia..
One thing I have not mentioned in my blog yet is the most interesting crazy process I have to go through to get a fuel pump for my motorcycle to a farm in Argentina. It’s not as easy as ordering one and expecting it to arrive by mail.. Nope. The world is going to make this as difficult as possible. As if breaking down thousands of kilometers from any city and/or mechanic isn’t enough of a challenge!
Argentina’s borders are closed to importation. Unless something is MADE in Argentina, and KTM is not, I can not get the appropriate fuel pump here. After lots and LOTS of consultation with friends, KTM owners, professionals all over the world, here is the plan.
I can not mail the fuel pump to Argentina, and my next closest country is Chile. I got onto Horizons Unlimited Community www.horizonsunlimited.com and found a really nice man in Chile, Tim Druett who agreed to accept my fuel pump from the USA. Previously we thought James might be able to pick it up from Tim as he returned north and ride back into Argentina with the pump concealed. However, James BMW, HAS NOW broke down in Ushuaia (more on that in a minute) and he’s not riding anywhere for a long time.
I ended up stuck for a while. Can I rent a car in Chile or Argentina? Neither that would allow crossing the border with a rented vehicle. Does a bus cross the border up there? No buses.
Running out of ideas and options, James thought to ask Mark who was already riding north in Chile if he could stop in Coyahique Chile, pick up the pump from Tim, and leave it somewhere in Argentina, as just that border hurdle would make it easier for us to get. He agreed and would be able to drop it at his next Argentine stop, Esquel. Perfect! That’s only 180 km of the farm!
Once the orders were placed, the waiting game begins. I’ve confirmed MY part has arrived Chile. But not Tim’s house yet! It is stuck at customs in Santiago. Chile wants more money. Most countries down here have a 40% import tax. 40% !!!! Then I couldn’t pay it from Argentina because they won’t take credit card, only cash! Ugh! Next I learned my own bank will NOT allow any transfer to Chile, due to lack of agreements and Chile on their “high risk” list. Hmm. Can I pay through Western Union from Argentina? I found one, walked all the way there with info in had and Yes, but that would be an extra $40 to pay a $75 tax. What? I had no idea their fees are that high! My next idea is to email my trusty friend in Santiago, Martyn Howorth. “Martyn, can I get you to pay my customs bill and I will transfer the money to your account once I am in Chile.” “Sure, Sherri Jo!” Finally a yes! He is so cool, always helpful. (Remember Martyn helped us tremendously while I was with the Husaberg Adventure Team in his Santiago house for many days!) Within seconds of receiving my email with transfer details it was done and he sent over the confirmation. Good man. NOW, the dag gone part can carry on to Coyahique, Chile.
So James and I had recently moved to Punta Arenas Chile by bus. He could do nothing to get the special parts removed from his broken BMW in Ushuaia so we went to get a special tool and mechanic who could help him. Punta Arenas the largest Chilean town in the south and the base point where most people come to do some serious Patagonia trekking. James got the parts separated from the unit and he needs to order his replacement parts from England. He will have to do the same as me, have them sent to Chile. And I managed to get my pay-back money transferred to Martyn.
It all seems like a football game with strategies and passes!
Next, Mark picks up the fuel pump from Tim, crosses the border into Argentina, and made it to a hotel in Esquel. So James is ready to take the bus with me north to try to fix my bike one last time. I feel so guilty for him to travel so far just for my bike, but somehow the universe worked it out that he had nothing else to do for the next 2 weeks but to wait for his own parts to arrive from England. So it worked out quite well. However, my guilt bill is wracking up as he’s done far too much for me already. I really struggle with that even though he spends a lot of his time trying to convince me to stop worrying, he is doing it because he wants to.
From Punta Arenas, we both arrive Esquel by bus, and pick up my tiny little fuel pump that has been such a drama! Then another 2 hour bus ride south to Gobernador Costa where wonderful Ignacio arrived right on time to pick us up and take us back to his farm.. and my bike!
This whole process has been really difficult. But with persistence, this drama reminds me that truly – ANYTHING is possible.
Once on the farm, we didn’t screw around. James got straight to work on my bike. I am so scared and nervous. What if after all this drama the new fuel pump doesn’t fix the bike. James is not a professional mechanic, he’s an amazing mechanic self taught! But neither of us are completely sure that this is what will save me. If the new pump doesn’t work, we have exhausted every possible option. Then I have to decide to completely ditch the bike or spend thousands of dollars to get it out of here. I do my best not to think about that though. I must stay positive! However, the thought crossed my mind to take off on this lawnmower.
James! I can’t figure out how to get the darn thing started! Now, that’s bad…
If I can’t take the lawnmower, fingers crossed James can perform a miracle today on the bike.
Ignacio “Nacho” stops by to see how we’re doing.
Progress, it’s time for a test. FINGERS CROSSED………………….!!!!!!!!!!!!
The bike wouldn’t start. My nerves were blowing out my head, even though I focused to stay calm and optimistic. Then, the battery died in the process of trying too much to get it started. James asked me to go away for a while. He was nervous too, and it didn’t help having me around. He hooked up the cables to Nacho’s truck and I heard it start from the kitchen with Milagros (her name means miracle in Spanish.. too perfect!) and it kept running! Woo hoo!!
Idling is as good thing but I had to take it for a test ride myself. I really didn’t want to, I was so scared to find out it would die again on the road as it had been before. We knew that all the fuel with water had been drained from my bike, so I bought a little 5 litre container in Esquel and brought some fuel back to the farm.
I slowly got on the bike for the test with lots of prayers and…..I rode it all he way to Costa 10 k’s and back.. not a single problem!! WOW!!! This is a FULL ON MIRACLE!! James is a SUPERSTAR!!! I owe every bit of it to James. THANK YOU!!!!
A very proud James. He deserves to be!
There is no way to thank everybody from all over the planet who gave me advise and assistance on this project. But particularly, Tim Druett, Mark Donham, and Martyn Howorth who were like my teammates in this pass the pump game. As always the motorcycle community blows me away with willingness to help another biker no matter what. There is especially no way to thank Young James who has gone far, WAY FAR, beyond-the-universe far for doing everything in his power just to help me. I’ve never met anybody as helpful as him.. and I’ve met a lot of very helpful people! James wouldn’t give up on me or my bike no matter how many times I tried to push him out the door to continue his own journey. This is my problem not his, but he has a heart of gold.
I’m all packed up and ready to gooooo!! But wait. Ignacio wants to call the fuel station to see if they have any fuel. My 5 litres won’t get me too far. Since I’ve been hanging about Ruta 40, it is more common than not for the one fuel station in town to be out of fuel, and for as much as 3 days. Today is Tuesday and they are expecting fuel on Thursday. UGH… COME ON!!!! Can you believe after all this, I’m still dag gone stuck!!??
Mom needed to go north to Esquel on business for a few days, but managed to get a photo together before she left. That is one serious wagon and of course the amazingly beautiful house. The house was built by her father in the 1930′s-40′s who came here and settled all the way from Spain.
The next morning I am wandering the property early, and I see the station hand is getting ready to leave for the day on the land with his dogs.
They’ve just got a call that a cow is loose and out by the road. We jump in the truck to muster it back into the paddock.
Nacho is a veterinarian and he wanted to know if I would like to join him to another Station (Estancia), because he needs to take some blood samples of their stock. We drive about 50 km’s to get there, chatting all the way in Spanish.
The life of champion sheep.
Awww. I could think of a few comments, but I’ll leave it at that..
Nacho says, “Sherri, you must go see the sheep in this other shed.” Why, Nacho, (Por que)? He says, “Champion Sheep. They come from Australia!” See, I knew there was something good about my country!
Back home, I set off to explore the property again since I have 2 more days of waiting to fill in!
A photo of Nacho with his Grandfather.
Look what I found!! A Ford Model T?
It’s like going into your grandmother’s attic. So many cool amazing finds, I am loving this!
Out with the old and in with the new. I bet Grandpa would have never guessed that the morning breakfast shows would come through a big screen in the kitchen starring nearly naked people. This presenter was on Argentinian morning television with her tiny bikini every day..and boy did she flaunt it! Here she is interviewing a man from the USA, also enjoying his body on television. And then she’d run into the ocean, do the whole Pamela Anderson thing and run slowly back to the camera. Often! She needed to cool off. It is a whopping 26 degrees Celcius (78F) here don’t you know. Too funny!
Argentinian morning TV – Lord have Mercy!
Well, the old days are not lost completely. While the family are all busy I’m wandering around the property a bit more. I notice that I’m glad not to have internet here, I am getting so much more out of life than sitting at the computer!
Came across the latest sheep victims hanging in a wooded area behind an abandoned house on the property. Very recent kill. I’m glad I found this now rather than during…
Since Mom is up north, young Milagros takes over in the kitchen. We laugh a lot because there is a daily appearance from Empanadas Atun (Tuna Empanadas). I tease the Garcia Diez family about it, because of all places on the planet.. far from any ocean, on a farm that rears it’s own meat, lamb and beef, our most common and favorite feed here is ironically Tuna!
While playing in the yard with Monkey the dog, I heard a couple of big bangs in the shed, but I thought it might be the farm employees. Now I know what I heard.. It was Milagros and Guido chopping up a lamb on the block in the shed for dinner and here they are bringing it to the house. Milagros must be a superstar with a knife. She is only here this month on holiday break from Vet school!
Milagros is an excellent cook. She made a spectacular meal with the lamb, and I’m not a lamb fan, but this was good. She also made some super vegetarian salads for James. Not an ‘empanada atun’ in sight!
It’s hard to get this family to let me help them with anything. We’ve been living in their house and eating their food for days, let alone using the shed as a mechanic shop. So when the wool truck showed up to pick up the bales, I didn’t ask, I just jumped and started helping. They tried to push me away but I kept saying, ‘Yo quiero ayudar!!’ I want to help!
These things are freakin’ heavy! We had so much fun and I quite honestly love some good hard work and this kind of exercise.
Guido and Monkey the dog. What a smile!
Milagros and her kitty cat. “Sherri, would you like some Mate?”
I hadn’t actually experienced Mate in the traditional way here as of yet. Everybody, men and women, carry their mate pouches and thermos over the shoulder. I see this more than purses. Nacho comes in and they are like, “Yeah, we’re teaching you proper mate!”
Loose Yerba Mate comes from a tree leaf found in most of South America. I’ve seen it in Brazil and Paraguay, but in Argentian it’s their national drink. Very popular because it’s caffeinated! The leaves are dried, toasted and crushed. Then the crushed mate is poured into a wooden cup or gourd to about 2/3 full. You steep it with hot water (not boiling), and then you leave some space and pour cold water to make it cooler and drinkable through a filtered straw (usually metal, called a bombilla). When the Mate is passed to you, you can keep it as long as want, take a drink, two or four, and when they hear you say “Gracias”, they know you are done. With several refills, Nacho is holding and topping up with the hot water jug. But usually you see people carrying along a thermos of water for the day.
Wait, which direction? Who takes the Mate? Mili is looking at me that way because I’m about to pass it the wrong direction… again.
My turn again… I love Mate. We get Yerba Mate in tea bags at home, but this is the real deal!
I wander back into the kitchen. “Hey Sherri, do you want to go fishing?” Sure! I love fishing. I went upstairs to ask James, who has been busy all day watching movies in his room. He likes that, I often feel bad that he’s not doing something, but he always makes it clear that he loves his movie watching days. Okay then, being a full vegetarian, he’s not keen at all to watch us catch and kill fish.
Nacho makes his own lures, how cool is that?!
Guido is passionate about watching tennis on TV..! Of all places, The Australian Open in Melbourne. We are one small world….
Ok, lures are done, let’s go.
While walking out to the river, a very long walk, they spot something and go chasing it. What the heck? Get it! Get it!! Nacho picked it up and wanted to show me a native resident, the Armadillo.
On the odd occasion I’ve seen one scurry about the side of the road, now Nacho wants me to hold it.. Really? Can’t say no to that!
The Argentinian Armadillo
I felt bad about holding it by the tail, I hope it didn’t hurt. He/she was super cute though and we set him free quickly. Thanks little mate!
Poor little lamb, what happened to you!? I imagine that strong wind picked it up and threw it into a bush it couldn’t escape! ;-(
A super nice treat out here on the land is a little bush called Calafate. I remember it so easy because there is a major tourist destination called El Calafate to the south (haven’t visited it yet). Anyway this bush has a dark purple berry, that resembles blueberries, but a bit more tart. The really ripe ones were nice and we swallowed them by the handful as we continued on to the fishing spot.
We spent far more time eating Calafate than fishing.. no complaints from me!
Check out this plant, it grows around a rock. There were many of these. I assume it’s some form of moss? Not sure.
I’m watching and I see the fish jumping, but still not a single one will take the hook.
They put in a good long effort, but the time came to cut our losses. No fish today..
Life on the farm in Argentina. I feel really content. I couldn’t have had a better time and I feel so grateful because you can’t buy this kind of experience. To get to know this family and live with them was worth breaking down for. So special. I know that times are tough in this country. But I am in love with this beautiful family and their lifestyle. I really hope to see them again someday.
Now, to the next challenge….. !
Riding to Ushuaia has been difficult and challenging enough so far, but I’ve had my buddy James with me the whole way. Now the fuel should be here and with James’ bike still stuck in Ushuaia, I am going to take on these difficult roads for 3000 km south, ALONE. Usually I would stress a bit about it, the crazy wind, the roads, gravel and hazards mixed with the wind and the cold. I know this is ahead and I’d normally worry. However, since going through so much drama just to get the bike fixed, I won’t consider wasting time with fear of the ride. It’s been a long time now, I just going to trust I will make it and RIDE!!