Friday, May 17, 2013

In Conclusion

Total Days: 175 (October 16, 2012 - April 10, 2013)
Grants Pass, Oregon to Buenos Aires, Argentina
Total Trip Mileage: 20,056

For starters, I took a couple of days and re-traced my route on Google Earth. I just needed to see on a map what 20,056 miles and 15 countries looked like:

My final few hours in BA consisted of getting to the airport and finding my freedom plane back to the USA:

After getting on the plane I was pretty bushed. The fatigue of six months of travel and the emotional come down of having literally nothing to do finally caught me. I didn't mention this at the beginning of my report, but when I was in Mexico, I ended a two year relationship with a girl that I had been dating. Even though I knew it had to end, I was pretty devastated. I spent a lot of days blasting down Mexican highways bawling my eyes out and blowing snot rockets into my helmet visor. One of the main reasons that my reporting was so spotty and infrequent for the first month was this serious depression that I was in. And then, just as things were starting to get better, I got ran over by a boat, accidentally fed a bunch of Marijuana, and watched Justin get hit by a truck.

The stress of those first few months was so overwhelming for me that I developed a serious pain in the right side of my chest that didn't disappear until Colombia. The pain was so bad that at times I was convinced I was about to have a mild heart attack; I went to a couple of doctors and they told me that I just needed to relax. Sure enough, after spending a week in Medellin just chilling, things went back to normal and started feeling better.

As I was sitting in my seat contemplating this and thinking about how far I had come, a nice stewardess came up and asked me if I was in the military. I told her that I had just gotten out a few months ago. She thanked me for my service and then told me that beer was on the house for the rest of the trip! She smuggled me three Buds and a bunch of pretzels. I slept for a while and then woke up and looked out the window. Contemplating the last six months at 30,000 feet, I found it incredible that I was covering the entire length of my journey in a few hours.

After about 30 hours of flights and layovers, I finally arrived in Portland, Oregon. I called United Cargo and found that my bike had not come in yet. My awesome younger brother drove up from Corvallis to pick me up and we went back to his place before going to a local brewery and consuming massive amounts of IPA.

The next week was spent applying for jobs, visiting my family, getting a track on my finances, and trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life.

My bike finally arrived in Portland, a week late. I had an appointment with a Marine Corps prior service recruiter in Portland and inmate alfabc had told me that he would take me out to lunch, so I figured that I could knock out everything in one shot.

Alfabc treated me to an awesome lunch at the Side Door Cafe downtown. He's a stand up guy! We talked about motorcycles and bicycles and life and had a good time. Thanks a ton man!

Afterwards, I went to the joint Navy/Marine/Coast Guard base to see if I could get some temporary work with the Marines for the summer. Things were going smoothly until I started filling out the paperwork and came to a question asking if I had used drugs since I had been out. I knew I could just lie and say no, but I decided that honesty was the best policy in this case; besides, I had already posted the whole incident up on the internet for everyone to see. Realizing that I was probably about to disqualify myself from ever returning to the Marines, I put down my pen and told the recruiter that I had a funny story for him. I related the whole Space Gravy incident to him, explained that it was unintentional, and waited for the verdict. Sure enough, he told me that since I had verbally told him that I had used marijuana (even though it was unintentional), I was now permanently disqualified from returning to the Marines and that an annotation would be placed on my record should I ever attempt to rejoin through another prior service recruiter. He was nice about it and he seemed to to understand the situation; still, rules are rules. I understood; I had to deal with a lot of drug pops for my Marines when I was in. There is a zero tolerance policy on drugs in the Military and sometimes people try and beat a drug charge by claiming that they were given narcotics without their knowledge. Even if it's a legitimate accident, it's hard to prove in a military court and most people that try that route get separated.

I was pretty discouraged. I didn't need to go back to the Marines, it was just one option among many. Still, I had a heavy heart. Even though it was an accident, I felt like I had let someone down. I left the office depressed and drove to the airport to pick up my bike.

As I pulled into the shipping office at the airport, I got a call from the Forest Service saying that they had received my application for a fire fighting job and were going to try really hard to hire me, despite being overstaffed. I guess god closes some doors and then opens new ones. That lifted my spirits a bit. The sight of "El Senior" all wrapped up in plastic wrap lifted them even more.

With a little help from the guys at the loading dock, I re-attached the front wheel and loaded the bike up in the back of my truck.

I drove down to Corvallis, dropped off the bike in my brother's garage, then headed for the supermarket to get some dinner and a drink. This being Oregon, they had an entire refrigerator case dedicated to micro-brewed IPA's. God bless the United States!

Staring at all of that hoppy goodness, I remembered something that I had seen on a fake obituary: "I spent the majority of my money on beer, gas, and motorcycle parts; the rest I just wasted!". So true.

And now for the numbers:

Money Spent: $20,000
- Bike Shipping from Buenos Aires to PDX: $1,200
- Plane Ticket Home (BA to PDX: $1,100
- Sail Boat from Panama to Colombia: $1,000
- Other Misc Ferrys and Boats: $350
- Bribes and Payoffs: $130
- Oil: $350 approx
- Tires: $850 approx
- Chains: $500 approx

Countries Visited: 15
- Mexico
- Guatemala
- Honduras
- El Salvador
- Nicaragua
- Costa Rica
- Panama
- Colombia
- Ecuador
- Peru
- Bolivia
- Chile
- Argentina
- Uruguay

Front Tires: 3
- Avon Distanzia
- Pierreli Scorpion
- Metzler Sahara

Rear Tires: 5
- Avon Distanzia
- Pierrelli Scorpion
- Chinese made knobby (only used for the Lagunas route in Bolivia)
- Metzler Sahara
- Metzler Sahara (purchased used from Dakar Motos in Buenos Aires, used for the final 300 miles in Uruguay)

Flat Tires: 2
- 1 Front
- 1 Rear

Chains: 5
- Factory O-ring chain
- EK Gold non o-ring (ruined by overtightening in Medellin, Colombia, changed out in Lima, Peru)
- DID x-ring (ruined by incorrect install by mechanics in Lima, Peru, changed out in Rio Gallegos, Argentina)
- DID non o-ring (ruined by overtightening in Ushuaia, Argentina)
- Tsubaki o-ring chain

Oil Changes: 10
- Oil Filters used: 5

Chain Sliders: 2.5
- 2 OEM XR650L Chain Sliders
- 1 Self-Fabricated out of cutting board type nylon material

Front Sprockets: 2.5
- 2 Moose XR650R 15 tooth (the first lasted about 10,000 miles. A friend brought the second one to Arequipa, Peru when he flew in to see his girlfriend.)
- 1 OEM 14 tooth (used only for the Lagunas route in Bolivia.)

Rear Sprockets: 1
- 1 OEM 45 tooth (It's still got some life in it!)

Luggage Rack Breaks: 6
- San Diego, CA (probably due to excessive weight of Ammo Can panniers)
- Guatemala (following a long day of gravel roads)
- Ecuador
- Peru (after being hit by a car)
- Bolivia (second day of hard off road riding on the Lagunas route in Bolivia)
- Argentina (not a full break, just a crack. Re-welded by Javier at Dakar Motos in Buenos Aires)

Other Problems:
- Cracked Lugs on oil cooler (fixed with JB Weld and zip ties in Oaxaca, Mexico. No further problems.)
- Broken fuel tank mounting tabs on frame (re-welded in Punta Arenas, Chile)

Accidents, Wrecks, and other Misfortunes: 5
- Hit by a boat while Kayaking in Guatemala
- Crashed on slick road in Guatemala
- Ran into bus in Guatemala
- Hit by Car in Peru
- Hit and broke side mirror on car Lima, Peru

Cops looking for bribes: 4

Bribes paid: 1

Thanks to everyone for reading my ramblings. The community on advrider is incredible. From technical advice, to humor, to donations, to emergency help, to free meals, I've received so much support from people on this forum that I can't even begin to thank you all enough. The generosity of total strangers united by a pastime like motorcycling continues to amaze me. And to all of the people that I met on this trip, who shared meals and laughs and adventures with me, con todo mi corazon, muchas gracias!

Vaya con dios,


Tango Lessons and Tours

Day 171 - 174 (April 6, 2013 to April 9, 2013)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Day's Ride: no bike....

After getting rid of the bike and taking my chances on the black market, all of the serious work was out of the way and it was time to see a bit of Buenos Aires. I was eager to see the city; however, there was a sense of loss, almost disappointment after sending the bike home. I was also tired, really tired. Not physically tired, just travel tired. I was ready to go home. Still, I knew I needed to take the opportunity to see this amazing city before I left. With that in mind, I decided to take a bike (bicycle) tour and get the added bonus of a little workout as well. I convinced Dylan to come along as well.

For about a 100 pesos we got some ricketty old beach cruisers and a four hour tour of BA.

The first stop was the Argentine version of the White House. It's actually pink, so I think it should be called the Pink House.

According to our tour guide, when the original building was built, it was painted with a mixture of lime and buffalo blood, hence the pink color.

Since this is a country with a fairly recent memory of military rule, oppression, and turbulent politics, there were tons of political banners and posters up in the square directly in front of the Pink House.

The statue in the main square:

A look back in the opposite direction from the pink house:

If you look down at the brick pavement you'll notice some odd white shapes painted on the ground. Those are supposed to represent women wearing headscarves. During the days of the military dictatorship, the mothers of people who had been "disappeared" by the government would come to this square wearing head scarves and try and exchange information in hopes on learning what had happened to their sons and daughters. It's such a haunting reminder of how different things were.

We continued down to Puerto Madero. In the early 1900's this was one of the main ports in BA. However, by the 1920's it was too small to fit modern ships. The port gradually fell into disrepair until the early 90's when the city and local developers began turning it into a neighborhood. Now, it's the richest part of BA.

The tour continued and we ran into a rival tour; they were riding bamboo bikes. I had heard about wooden bikes but had never seen one until now.

The tour continued down to an area called Boca. Boca is a brightly colored neighborhood near the water that is said to be the birthplace of Argentine Tango. The neighborhood was full of tourists and free Tango shows.

While we were in Boca, Dylan and I actually ran into Bear, the rider that I had met on the ferry to Tierra del Fuego. Once again, it's amazing how small South America can feel sometimes when you are on a bike.

The final stop on the tour was to a famous soccer stadium in Boca, home of the famous "Boca Juniors". Apparently, around the turn of the century names with English words were in vogue; the result were team names like "Boca Juniors", "Racing Club", and the "Old Boys".

That about finished up the tour; we took our bikes back to the rental place and hoofed it back to the Hostel.

The next day I ended up going Tango dancing with a girl that I had met back in Santiago over a month ago. I know next to nothing about Tango; I had actually taken a ballroom dancing class back in College but didn't remember a thing about it. Luckily, when we showed up to the dance hall, everyone was dancing Swing instead of Tango. I actually can Swing dance quite well; my date for the evening had never tried it before. Like some bad kung fu flick, the student had become the teacher. : We ended up dancing for a couple of hours; the dancing eventually changed to Tango and I was struggling to remember just the basic steps.

The Argentinos in Buenos Aires are some serious night owls. Like most Argentinos, they don't eat dinner until after 10 and they don't usually go to bed until after midnight. The younger crowd in BA take it to a whole new level. Most of the clubs in town don't really get hopping until 2:00 AM and usually close up somewhere around 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM! After finishing dancing, we didn't get dinner until around 2:30 AM. After we finished eating around 3:30 AM, the people that I was with asked what we were going to do next! I was barely awake at this point and the beers that I had just drank weren't helping; I eventually found my way to a bus and headed back to the Hostel. I didn't end up getting to sleep until 4:30 AM.

The next day was my last day in Buenos Aires. I had over calculated my need for Pesos and was about 800 to rich. knowing that I wouldn't be able to change these back to Dollars in the states, I asked Dylan if he wanted to buy some pesos at a really good rate. Luckily he had an old hundred dollar bill that he wanted to get rid of, so things worked out great. This left me with 180 pesos to make it to the airport and buy dinner....

(to be continued......)

Gotta Love the Black (Blue) Market!

Day 170 (April 5, 2013)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Day's Ride: 0 Miles

I woke up with a little bit of a headache after the Kilkenny. Unfortunately, I had a pressing appointment: the final payment and paperwork for shipping the bike home. After another filling breakfast of coffee and bread, I walked downtown to the office of the shipping company that was handling my bike. The day before, Peter, Marichio, and I had all decided to meet up at the office together and make the payments at the same time for reasons that I will explain in a second.

We all arrived at the office at the same time and, in typical Argentinian fashion, were told that the agent wasn't ready to see us yet and that we should come back in an hour. We went down the street to a McDonalds, drank some coffee, checked the exchange rates on our phones, and discussed our gameplan for payment.

When shipping your bike you are presented with the option of paying in cash with American Dollars or Argentinian Pesos at the official rate. If you're savvy concerning "Dolar Blue", It doesn't take a genius to realize that you can save a ton of money by paying in pesos.

As I've mentioned before, one of the huge benefits of traveling in Argentina right now is Dolar Blue, aka, the black market currency exchange for American Dollars. The official exchange rate is around 5.13 Argentinian Pesos for every Dollar. The black market exchange is currently around 8.2-8.4 for every Dollar. The rates are usually better for larger amounts of money and larger denominations. So, if you're changing a couple thousand dollars in hundred dollar bills, you can get a pretty good deal. Of course, in order to get the black market rate, you have to haggle a little bit, go into some potentially shady areas, and deal with some somewhat shady characters. For these reasons, we all decided to team up, combine our cash, and spend some time finding the best deal possible. Furthermore, I think we all felt a little more safe having three people present instead of doing it on our own.

We went back to the shipping office, met with the agent, and received our final price for shipping. My bill came out to 9,450 Pesos or $1,838. Doing some quick math and estimating an exchange rate of at least 8, I figured that I could save around $700 by using Dolar Blue.

I had pulled out about $2,000 in hundred dollar bills while in Uruguay in preparation for this moment; I decided that I would change about $1,500 total into Pesos: $1,200 to pay for the shipping and $300 to pay for my final 5 days in Buenos Aires. Peter and Marichio already had a fair amount of pesos, but they still had about $600 that they wanted to change as well. Together, we had $2,100 to change and we all figured that we could get a good rate.

Unfortunately, for some reason, everyone decided that I should be the one to carry the cash, so I had to walk around downtown Buenos Aires, a city notorious for pickpockets, with a huge wad of $100 bills in my pocket while Marichio (who's Colombian and speaks fluent Spanish) negotiated with money changers on the street. I had both of my hands in my pockets the entire time; one hand clutching my wallet, the other clutching my pocket knife. As if a pocket knife would help me stop a pick pocket...

We finally settled on a woman named Blanca who was offering us 8.25. Apparently the rates had gone down during Semana Santa.

Blanca lead us to a building that looked strangely familiar. After we stepped inside and she showed us the freight elevator, I realized that this was one of the same buildings that I had changed money in last week. There's nothing like stepping into a freight elevator with a couple thousand dollars in your pocket, wondering if you're about to get robbed at gunpoint by some thugs that are waiting for you on the second floor. Figuring that I didn't have much to lose other than thousands of Dollars and possibly my life, I decided to sneak some pictures with my phone. Here's Blanca and the freight elevator:

We got off on the third floor and walked down a long hallway:

Blanca stopped at an unmarked doorway, gave a little knock, and lead us inside.

After we told them how much money we had to change, they told us that we would have to wait while they ran out and got more Pesos. I figured that this was the point where they would run out and get their crew of armed thugs to come back and rob us. Pocket knives aren't much protection against Pistolas...

Fortunately, they were true to their word, and after about 10 minutes of waiting, a big Argentinian dude came in with our pesos. I guess it's bad for business to rob your customers. We stepped into the money changing booth and slapped down our hundreds.

The man behind the glass slid us back an enormous stack of hundred Peso notes and we got to work examining each one to ensure that we weren't getting "truchas" (counterfeits), which are apparently quite common. After a lengthy examination and a few exchanges of damaged currency, we finally had our money. We thanked Blanca and headed back to the shipping office to pay our fees.

The payment was pretty straightforward. We went up to the cashier on the 7th floor of the office building, gave him our cash, and received our Air Freight Way Bills and a shipping date. My bike was supposed to fly out the next day on a United Flight and reach Portland by Monday.

So, here are some fast facts concerning my shipping experience:

Actual cost of shipping by air from Buenos Aires to Portland, OR: $1,838.52

ATM fees to remove lots of cash in Uruguay: $35
Referral fee paid to Dakar Motos: $85
Shipping Cost after Converting to Dolar Blue: $1,145.50
Total Shipping Cost: $1,265.50

So, in all actuality, I saved $573 on shipping. That's way, way, way cheaper than any of the other options. You would be crazy to ship from anywhere else. I could have done it even cheaper too if I would have thought ahead and used Western Union to wire myself the money in Uruguay. Then I would have only had to pay $5 to get all of that cash.

After getting all of our papers in order, we went to a nearby Parilla to celebrate.

I had a mixed plate with short ribs, loin, chicken breast, normal sausage, and blood sausage. Delicious!

In any event, things are about finished for me. The bike is gone and after gorging myself on meat, I had the realization that my two wheels to freedom were now out of the picture. It's strangely depressing to realize that you can't just hop on your bike and take off whenever you feel the urge. Furthermore, without a bike you are suddenly reduced to just another backpacking tourist. Blah! I spent the rest of the afternoon feeling sorry for myself, then, pulled myself together, went out and bought some cigars, and celebrated!

As far as this ride report is concerned; I'm not quite finished. I'm going to start working on a little summary and some observations concerning the trip, as well as a little summary of my last few days in BA. Furthermore, I've been asked by a few people to give a presentation on my trip when I return to the states; with that in mind, I would like to enlist the help of all of the people that have been or are reading my crazy ramblings. If you are reading this and are willing, I'm looking for nominations for the best pictures from each country, aside from the Salar pictures in Bolivia. Thanks in advance!

The Final Ride and Crating the Bike

Day 169 (April 4, 2013)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Day's Ride: 20.5 Miles

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Started off the day with a little bike cleaning. A couple people have warned me that pulling a muddy bike off the plane can mean fines when you arrive in the states; I figured a little pressure washing would solve that.

Even though I asked very politely, they wouldn't let me run the hose. I cringed every time the guy running the pressure washer ran it over the wheels. It seems like all the workers at car washes have a tendency to aim straight for the wheel bearings.

With all of the mud from the Carretera Austral finally washed off, I headed back to Dakar Motos to load up and get ready to head to the airport with Peter, a Brit on an Africa Twin.

I had a great time riding the last 20 miles through Buenos Aires rush hour traffic. A few more minutes of white lining and passing on the right had me wishing that I didn't have to send the bike home just yet.

We arrived at the airport and linked up with another rider, a Colombian on a BMW F650. Eventually, we were lead into a warehouse where we had our bikes weighed (I came in at 220 kilos fully loaded) and then put on a palates.

The palates for all three bikes were of the same length; I had been expecting something more "crate" like. However, with the palate already pre-built, the only things that I could do to my bike to reduce the overall dimensions of the palate, and hence the cost of shipping, were to make it as short and light as possible.

With my bike up on the palate, I set to work removing the windscreen, handlebars, support struts, and front tire. I had been planning on removing the rear wheel two, but eventually decided against it due to the fact that the Aduana staff were getting ready to go on a three hour lunch break. I really didn't want to be hanging out at the airport all day while I waited for the Argentinians to get their act together. I also had to drain all of the gas out. I gave it one of the guys who was doing the crating for us.

With the bike resting on the front forks, the workers built a little wooden bracket to keep it from moving around, then began strapping the bike down with nylon webbing.

With the bike secured to the pallet, I began cramming my gear into all of the available nooks and crannies. For some reason, you aren't allowed to put camping gear on the pallet with your bike which meant that I would now be stuck lugging around my tent and sleeping bag for the next few days. Luckily, we were allowed to put riding gear on the pallet. At least I don't have to wear that white body armor through the airport when I fly home...

The next step was the scanner. A forklikft came over, picked up my bike, placed it on a little conveyor, let the Aduana people run it through their massive x-ray machine, then picked it up and brought it back.

The final step involved wrapping the entire bike in massive swaths of plastic wrap.

I tried to get some more pictures of the final product, but one of the Aduana ladies finally noticed my camera and told me that pictures were prohibited in the loading bay. Bah humbug!

I said one last fair well to my Caballo de Hierro, my faithful steed "El Senior", and then headed out with Peter and Marichio (the Colombian rider) to catch a micro bus back into the city. I decided to not be too nostalgic; that could wait a few days until things settled down. Besides, I wasn't finished with the whole shipping process yet; the final price and payment for the shipment would all be worked out the next day, downtown in the freight office headquarters.

That night I met up with Dylan, Corey, and Steve (aka RexBuck from "South America by Geezer") at the Kilkenny, a famous Irish pub in downtown BA. Thanks for the recommendation, diegotek!

Back to BA

Day 168 (April 3, 2013)
Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay to Buenos Aires, Argentina
Day's Ride: 13 Miles

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There are multiple options for ferries between Colonia and Buenos Aires; unfortunately, due to a long holiday week for Semana Santa in Argentina, nearly everything was booked. When I logged on to reserve my ticket, there was only one slot left and it was on the most expensive boat! So, I ended up paying $150 to sail back to BA.

Fortunately, I was on the fast boat. So, instead of taking four hours to cross the river back to BA, it only took one. I was also sitting in first class drinking free champagne during that hour, so things weren't that bad. Sure beats riding 300 miles of flat, straight, four lane highway.

I got some strange looks walking into the first class section like some lost storm trooper in my smelly riding gear. Fortunately, after the first glass of champagne, I didn't really care.

After disembarking and getting my paperwork from the Aduana, I set out for Dakar Motos.

I'm staying at Dakar Motos tonight. There are several other riders here as well, including the two Canadians that I met in El Calafate and rode with out to the Perrito Moreno Glacier. Three of us are taking our bikes to the airport in the morning.

Dylan just showed up a few minutes ago as well and Corey and RexBuck are in town somewhere too. Tomorrow I get to disassemble my bike and crate it up. Should be fun!

Uruguay in the Rain

Day 167 (April 2, 2013)
Montevideo, Uruguay to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
Day's Ride: 111 Miles

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For some reason, it decided to rain today. Luckily, I didn't have far to ride. Still, it was a tad annoying. I had thought that I left all of the rain back in Chile.

After about an hour and a half of riding on a fairly boring, wet four lane highway, I pulled into Colonia del Sacramento. I had planned on camping to save a little money; however, the rain put a damper on that and I hunted down a hostel.

After I got situated I struck up a conversation with a group of Argentinian guys who had ridden their bicycles up to Brazil and back from Buenos Aires. They were really digging the bike and were asking for advice about doing a motorcycle trip of their own on Ruta 40. I told them to buy XR250 Tornados (or maybe even a Super Sherpa like John) and just go for it. We had a good talk, and, in typical Argentino/Uruguayo fashion, we shared the Matte gourd:

Note the Matte gourd in my hand and the guy in blue holding the thermos. Got to love matte culture!

The rain continued unabated so I went and found a Parilla so that I could spend the last of my Uruguayan pesos on some asado. After lunch, the rain was still going full tilt, so I went to the Hostel and hung out for a while. Surfed the internet, saw that both of the most recent female marines to volunteer for the Infantry Officers Course failed on the first day. Can't say that I'm surprised. Still, I imagine that there are a few out there who can make it. I also saw that Buenos Aires is underwater. I hope that doesn't interfere with the bike shipping. I finally got bored of sitting around, grabbed my rain jacket, and went for a quick walk around the old city.

Colonia del Sacramento was founded by the Portuguese back at the end of the 17th century as a base to smuggle goods into Buenos Aires. It changed hands about six or seven times between the Spanish and Portuguese for the next hundred years until it was finally in Spanish control for good.

The old part of town is really cool. The old walls are still up in some spots and the streets are all paved in cobble stones.

Tomorrow I catch the ferry back to Buenos Aires. I hope it doesn't get canceled due to weather. RexBuck of "South America by Geezer" fame is in town and Corey should be getting in as well; maybe we'll have a crating party!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Back in the Game

Day 167 (April 1, 2013)
La Paloma, Uruguay
Day's Ride: 141 Miles

I spent the past two days doing absolutely nothing productive. I sat in a hammock and read books, went to the beach and sat in the sand, watched some tv shows on my laptop, and generally just bummed around.

I woke up this morning totally refreshed and ready to ride! I got on the road again and was blessed with an amazing tailwind. I sailed west towards Montevideo with the music pumping and the engine humming at 70.

The little that I've seen of Uruguay seems to be all farmland. The roads are nice though, and the people are super chill. They seem a little more relaxed in general than the Argentinos. Also, toll roads are free for motos! Uruguay is winning in my book!

I made it back into Montevideo around 2:00 PM and spent the next 30 minutes on the phone with my bank trying to get money out of my checking account. I think the lesson that I've learned from all of this is that before embarking on a trip like this, you should open up a second checking account and bring an extra debit card with you that you keep locked up in a box in case something happens to your primary account. Or get a pin for your credit card so you can get a cash advance.

After taking care of some financial business, I walked around in search of a Mercado. Montevideo seems like a very cool place. I'm a little disappointed that I won't have time to really explore it.

Tomorrow I head over to Sacramento de Colonia to camp out for one final night in Uruguay. On the 3rd I take the ferry back to BA and head over to Dakar Motos to link up with Corey and get ready to head to the airport. I can't believe that the end is so close.