Madaru moto - motorbike adventures in South America
The 2000+km bus trip was long and boring. In the early stages, the wind was noticeably buffeting the bus. Once at Buenos Aires' bus terminal, I found a taxi but he didn't know the way to Dakar Motos and had to consult his street map. Seeing how far they were from the central district, he said I would have to pay extra because it was beyond some city boundary or another.
Eventually, somewhere out at Barrio Florida in BA's north eastern suburbs, we came to this nondescript building:
There was no sign, but the vehicle parked in front confirmed we had arrived at BA's legendary long-distance biker headquarters: Dakar Motos:
Knocking on the door I was greeted by Sandra. The taxi driver started driving off with one of my bags still in the trunk, but he stopped when I banged on his car. I think it was purely him being forgetful, but you never know... Sandra told me where I could get two things done that I really needed - a laundry service and haircut. Walking around Florida, I snapped these pics.
Cristina Kirchner seemed to have supporters in this area, judging by these posters
But close inspection showed her face had been defaced in every poster
Wide freeways are a feature of Buenos Aires, laid out in a grid pattern, connecting a city of around 30 million inhabitants. This highway near Dakar Motos has 12 lanes - six each way!
My first visit to Buenos Aires was around twelve years ago, and I lived here for a few months in 2003 and made some friends through TEGOBA - The English Group of Buenos Aires - (formerly known as "Grupo Ingles") an informal group who met for dinner once a week purely to practice their English, and I have kept contact with some of them over the internet, particularly Monica, who invited me to a dinner party in Belgrano, a well-to-do part of BA.
I arrived at Dakar Motos on the 28th June, but due to the extreme distance and a long week-end, my bike didn't arrive at the transport depot ill the 2nd of July. The depot was way over on the other other side of the city. I would have to ride back via 5-lane auto-pista in BA's heavy traffic. I made a track with my GPS going over via taxi, and used it to retrace my way back to Florida. At least that was the theory.
I found Atwakey in the Cruz del Sur depot.
A fork-lift driver asked me a lot of questions, and seemed amazed I had made it all the way to Patagonia on a Chinese bike. But he was not amazed, but rather amused, when I told him about my mechanical problems. "Bike adventures are like that" he said.
I packed Atwakey in the parking lot/loading bay. A lot of workers were pointing and laughing as I strapped on my multi-coloured bultos.
Riding along the congested roads, I noticed a strong smell of burning oil... and it was coming from my bike. As I was in the middle of a busy highway, I just nursed the bike the 25kms or so home. A couple of times some young portenos also on bikes tooted their horns or gave me the thumbs up as they scooted around me. Little did they know how worried I was the bike was about to die again!
Finally made it
Inspecting the bike, I found the oil was coming from a small hole that had burned through both my tank panniers and spare oil bottle, because I hadn't tied the panniers up properly, and they touched the exhaust, thank God it was only that.
Parked inside Dakar Motos. It was both a place to stay with bunk beds and kitchen, and a bike workshop for Sandra's husband Javier:
The only other guests were a couple from Eastern Europe on big bikes. That's Javier and Sandra farewelling them as they were going to Uruguay to catch a boat that would transport them and their bikes back to Europe.
Javier told me a few amusing stories about some crazy riders who had stayed at Dakar over the years. Most of his guests were ok, if a little eccentric, but he had to turf one or two out because they disobeyed the quite lenient house rules. Javier made it clear he did not like Chinese bikes, an opinion I found quite common among mechanics. In fact, some mechanics refuse to work on them, as they are regarded as too fragile.
I was now all alone in Dakar Motos: it was the off-season, and the owners live a couple of blocks away. They gave me my own key. I planned to stay in BA for about two weeks, before riding north.
At night it was quite cold and my only company was their pet cat... and I am allergic to cats, they give me asthma-like symptoms... but there was wi-fi and a stove to make hot coffee, so I was pretty happy.
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Text and photos copyright © Glen David Short 2012