In the zone between Chile and Argentina, Richard Livermore stopped to appreciate crossing a high mountain pass. Livermore and Dr. G had been stamped out of Chile and their motorcycles officially exported from the country. 17 kilometers away from this photograph, at Immigration for Argentina, the pair and their motorcycles were government-wise refused entry, with three Argentine officials signing off on the refusal document. The nice sunny day photographed here became a dark day for a few hours until a lady succumbed to the wily ways of a sweet talking motorcyclist.
Argentina Denied Entry, Americanized, Bidet Mouth Washer, Ozzy Osbourne Doppelganger in Buenos Aires
Two different approaches to the bureaucrats at the immigration offices to Argentina received two different results. Livermore was told, “Not my problem! You go back to Chile. Cannot enter Argentina!”
Meanwhile Dr. G’s immigration official answered his question about how big her husband was with a smile. While Livermore was flustering at his counter with several bureaucrats, fostering his papers, passport, credit cards and documents for his motorcycle, Dr. G was asking at his counter what kind of dancing the female official liked.
A major problem was Livermore had wrongly assumed a required document, called a Reciprocity Fee, could be purchased at the border, having failed to do so where he had Internet access over the previous months. However, the fee could only be paid online and no Internet access or Wi-Fi connections were available to travelers at the border. The nearest was 25-30 kilometers back in Chile, so at least two days would be lost re-entering Chile, finding an internet connection and printer for Livermore to make the required credit card payments, securing a numerical verification and then printing proof and exiting Chile again and re-starting the Argentina immigration and temporary vehicle import process.
The problem was solved when Dr. G waved Livermore away from his “Not my problem!” Immigration window officials to Dr. G’s more friendly Immigration official’s window and was told to be tranquil, not to try to perplex the harried bureaucrats with his flustering and watch how some government workers could be friendly and helpful, not a hindrance. An hour later a solution was found and the printed Reciprocity Fee documents allowed the pair and their motorcycles to enter Argentina.
Rene Dhenin, pictured above on his Kawasaki KLR650, from Ridgway, Colorado, joined the “RTW Motorcycle Rally Adventure Team” in Bariloche, Argentina. Celebratory fist bumping after having successfully reaching Ushuaia and the southernmost point on the continent of South America, Dhenin did not realize until the bill came for the celebration dinner that his joining the team meant as a newbie he was responsible for paying because he jumped the Start in Bogota, leaving before the Clancy banner waved off the entrants for the official beginning. It was a large bill that included some pricey Argentine squeezing of grapes.
Americanization could not easily be shaken off as the pair entered Spanish Argentina. One was lusting for farm style bacon and eggs for his breakfast, pooh-poohing the fruit, cereal, toast, pastries, juices and rich coffee offered each morning as part of their hotel charge. One could imagine him including the words “Denny’s Grand Slam, Denny’s Grand Slam, Denny’s Grand Slam” during his evening ablutions and prayers, if not mumbled while dreaming.
Pictured is a typical breakfast offering at a moderately priced Argentine hotel. While one of the pair prepared his own coffee in his hotel room with the portable hot water maker, cup and coffee he carried, the other took advantage of the large breakfast selection, powered up for the morning and before leaving made two sandwiches from the ham, cheese and fresh bread which he pocketed and snacked on during the day.
Another noted difference upon entering Argentina was the addition of a bidet in the bathrooms of hotels, motels and hostels. A bidet was not a toilet appliance either had seen growing up in Indiana, Montana or when passing through Kansas. Noting the unique fixture, one said to the other at dinner one evening, “You see the bidet in your bathroom?”
“Bid what?” replied the other.
“That porcelain apparatus next to the toilet with the handles and drain, the one mounted on the floor.”
“Oh yeah, I used it last night and this morning. Kind of like what is next to the chair in the dentist’s office, only there you can’t adjust the water temperature or power flow. First time I used it I nearly blew off my glasses, gave my face a good washing. ”
A Frenchman at the next table, overhearing the American conversation, leaned over and injected himself into the pair’s conversation by haughtily saying, “It’s pronounced “bit day” and is for washing your genital, perineal areas and inner buttocks.”
“Yep,” said one of the Americanized pair, smiling at his worldly display of global hygienic knowledge.
The other, wanting not to appear too Americanized, said, “Just cuz I’ve been using it for washing my mouth out after brushing my teeth doesn’t mean I don’t know what perineal means, Mr. Pepe Le Pew.”
This rather unique bidet/toilet combination is what gave one of the farm grown Americans in Argentina grounds for liking it to the mouth wash mechanisms in his dentist’s office, and which nearly blew off his glasses when he first applied farm boy strength to adjusting the water flow and temperature, while bending over face down to see the knobs close up.
The most common motorcycles seen as Livermore and Dr. G entered Argentina’s famed Patagonia were BMWs. Whether in a group on a fully supported and guided tour or roaming alone, one or two-up, the Bavarian motorcycles were seemingly the brand of choice. Dr. G, a certified BMW mechanic and Adventure Editor-at-Large for Kawasaki’s ACCELERATE magazine, admitted to being an agnostic when asked which brand of motorcycle was his favorite for adventure touring or travel. Livermore, a collector of Honda GL650s, admitted to his persuasion, and particularly so for the turbo charged 1983 models. Both would often engage in conversation with other motorcycle travelers regarding their choice of motorcycle and tires for the often difficult roads of Argentina.
An Argentine street dog sniffed around Dr. G’s and Livermore’s old (1983) Honda motorcycles while they were trading road stories and motorcycle preferences with a BMW owner. Livermore said, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” A certain amount of German quality, and paid high price, was being proffered by the BMW owner, until the Spanish dog chose the Bavarian rear wheel to water as pictured here. Dr. G said, as the dog wandered away, “Well, I guess that tells us what one inhabitant of Argentina thinks about what is expensively marketed as ‘the ultimate riding machine.’”
With no schedule other than a due date for their next scheduled pit stop, Livermore and Dr. G were free to pursue routes and travel roads seldom taken by foreign motorcyclists through southern Argentina. 90% of the motorcyclists they met between Buenos Aires and Patagonia were either coming or going to Ushuaia. Dr. G had been there twice before and recent reports of his scratched name and date still being visible on the back of a certain national park sign where he carved them in 1997 meant he needed not to make his mark again. Livermore, after enduring several days of cold and Casper, Wyoming-like winds across the pampas of Patagonia, suggested they vector northward towards bikini wearing sun bathers, a suggestion that passed by a vote of 2-0.
A surprise below the Rio Negro in Patagonia was the lack of gasoline, resulting in several instances long lines. While the Honda GL650s would run equally well on all octane levels of gas at the stations, Dr. G and Livermore sometimes had to wait for an hour or longer for their 4-5 gallons as jumping ahead in the line for motorcycles was not accepted. A road rumor was that further south a crashed tanker truck had left several gas stations empty with cars and motorcycles waiting several days for a replacement tanker to arrive, waiting where there was no lodging, no restaurants, and no bikini wearing sun bathers.
The last travel bump in the road around Argentina was within a mile of the pair’s targeted hotel in Buenos Aires. One of the two had reserved rooms with safe motorcycle parking at a hotel that was, as he stated, "across the street from a Starbucks." The other failed to make note of the hotel name or address and, as they approached a multi-level highway interchange, the reservation-maker, following behind his non-knowing pal, vectored off to the right while the lead rider went left.
Two hours later the frustrated, tired, hot, and no-GPS or telephone carrying partner of the two finally found the right Starbucks. He did so by riding in wider ranging circles through the lower bowels of Buenos Aires, asking taxi cab drivers and hoteliers where the nearest Starbucks was, while learning there were several of the Americanized coffee cafes in the greater area of 13,000,000 people in Buenos Aires. His moral to the afternoon of wandering urban adventure riding, looking for an Americanized coffee junkie was, “You can take some men out of America but you can’t take Americanization out of the man.”
A surprise visit from Sandra and Javier Kaper, motorcycle gurus and shipping experts based in Buenos Aires, was an enjoyable meeting for Dr. G. He had met the pair 10 years earlier on his second journey through South America and been in contact with them, often through third parties, some even sending him photographs of motorcycle parts he had left in Buenos Aires at the motorcycle shop Javier then operated. Dr. G autographed a copy of his latest best-selling book, DOWN AND OUT IN PATAGONIA, KAMCHATKA, AND TIMBUKTU http://bit.ly/1Q1hZ2O and the trio caught up on ten years of their lives, road tales and traded or dispelled gossip.
Several times in Argentina Dr. G was misidentified as Ozzy Osbourne. Once was when an American tourist said, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Ozzy Osbourne?” A second time was when a passerby in a hotel pointed at Dr. G and said to her husband, “Look, there’s Ozzy Osbourne!” A third time, an attractive waitress in a restaurant asked Dr. G, “Are you a rock star? Ozzy Osbourne?”
Dr. G, not one to pass on a compliment, especially from a pretty lady, rose to the bait and replied, “I’m no rock star, I’m Ozzy’s doppelganger. When Ozzy is sick, or too far out in space to go on stage, I take his place. He’s the rock star; I’m just the back-up guy.”
The waitress said, “That’s soooo cool, and you’re so humble. That’s very nice of you. Would you give me your autograph?”
Dr. G, author of the book MOTORCYCLE SEX, thought for a few seconds, and said in the spirit of being Ozzy and the published authority on the topic of his book , “OK, but only if I can write the autograph on your ************.”
The waitress blushed, then said “OK,” and bared skin where Dr. G wrote with a flourish, while using both hands, OZZY2.
Photo of Argentina Ozzy Osbourne doppelganger. So wrong, but soooo funny.
Both 33 year-old Honda motorcycles and young-at-heart drivers completed the second stage of The Great Around The World Motorcycle Adventure Rally in Argentina. Livermore, here displaying the banner from Ireland and carried on the The Clancy Centenary Ride, was already making a check-list of what he wanted to pack and carry for their next stage, Africa. Dr. G, having been to Africa several times before, dryly said of the what Livermore could expect compared to South America, “I believe when Stanley finally found Livingstone in 1871, sitting on a commode, he not only said, ‘Dr. Livingstone, I presume?’ but added, ‘Is it true you carried that toilet and seat the entire way?’”