After nearly two years on the road, we have finally reached the end of our planned travel in South America. We could go on and on, I think, as far as riding this continent or moving on to others. There is an endless variety of landscapes and cultures to experience here and I’m not sure I’m ready to go yet. But to be honest, I am tired; I miss my friends and family; and I’m ready for a break from the sensory overload that is life on the road. Brian is doing better than I am, but then he is well-practiced at life on the road, with more than four years under his belt overall. I think it’s harder for him to think of sitting still.I’m a person who finds things to look forward to, so I’m happy with whatever we do, here there or otherwise…but flush toilets and consistent hot water and wifi sound awfully nice after two years of life on the road.
Searching for a way to get the bikes back to North America has led us to Dakar Motos, and to Javier and Sandra. They are well known in the adventure motorcycle world as THE place in Argentina/Buenos Aires for shipping bikes out to the rest of the world. We reached out to them via email a couple of months before we think we will want to go home, and provided them a few cities we would consider shipping to, and they got to work getting prices. Places like Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Mexico City, Toronto are common hubs where prices seem to be fairly good. But after some thought we’ve settled on flying to Vancouver so we can enjoy some British Columbia roads on the way home. Seems the most scenic of the choices to me.
We ride out to Dakar Motos from the Puerto Limon Hostel in BA on a Tuesday morning and meet with Javier and Sandra. They are so well-versed and experienced that they have this down to a science, which I greatly appreciate as this is the first time I have ever flown my motorcycle anywhere. Sandra takes us through the process and has us complete a few forms. The following day we will be riding our bikes out to the international airport to drop them off with the shipping agent who will pack them up and deliver them to Air Canada.
I’m enjoying chatting with Javier and Sandra and getting to share some moto stories…these guys are legends. They have a couple of beds in the back room of the shop where many people have stayed over the years and lots of bikes, parts and memories linger in the dusty corners. Brian asks to use the shop to put on a new chain he has bought, to replace the one he had to botch together on the side of the highway the other day. And Javier offers any help we may need.
After an hour or so, that’s it. We are off again, back to the hostel and to pack. We have our “to do” list now for the remainder of the week – Wednesday run to the airport, Thursday take money to the bank, etc.
Wednesday is a fast-paced day. We have to pack up early, get the bikes through the hostel dining room and out to the street, and meander through 45-minutes of rush hour traffic to Eziza International Airport all before 9:30.
We head toward the Exports area of the airport and everyone seems to know where we are going but us, thank goodness. Several men keep herding us toward the right place. We ride into a warehouse and one-by-one onto a scale and then ride around and into a caged control area where we dismount and get to work prepping the bikes for shipping – disconnecting batteries, lowering tire pressure, removing all non-bike gear from the bikes, removing windscreens and mirrors, packing our riding gear in the panniers, etc.
We ride the bikes up onto half-pallets (well, Brian rides them up since he has long enough legs to reach the ground even from the pallet) and the crew begins strapping them into place. Brian takes care of all the details while I pack up and sneak photos.
Forklifts come carry the bikes in turn to take them to a mobile x-ray machine and process them before they are returned to the controlled area to be shrink-wrapped. We leave our helmets on the bikes too.
Javier and Sandra have even arranged a shuttle for us from the airport back into the center of the city, which drops us only a few blocks from our hostel. They have thought of everything. But it’s strange being in a shuttle and not riding, and I’m already missing my girl. Betty and The Bike With No Name should fly out on Sunday, we think, for Vancouver, but nothing will be finalized until we pay for the freight bill tomorrow in downtown Buenos Aires. Until I see you again beautiful Betty! I know you are in the best of hands.