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!