Long before we ever left on this journey, I would sit at home now and then letting my imagination run wild with all kinds of what-if scenarios. Sitting on the couch dreaming up how to get to Argentina on a motorcycle seemed like an immense undertaking back before we were crossing borders. The thought of stepping out and completely exposing yourself to the unknown can make you feel equally as frightened as elated.
All through the planning process, there had been a goal, a final destination, and that was the city of Buenos Aires. Pulling into town was a day I dreamed of. Somewhere in my elaborate thoughts were ticker tape parades, photo shoots, shaking hands with people on the street, kissing babies, and fine cigars and wine to celebrate the accomplishment. It’s easy to dream this stuff up while sitting on your couch at home, but reality tells a different story.
Unrelated photo: Rufio liked making major adjustments to the camera settings before snapping a picture. Luckily he captured the sun apocalypse in Zacatecas, Mexico…
The ride into Buenos Aires was a rainy and cold one, but my thoughts that day weren’t concerned with the weather at all. These were the last miles of what turned out to be a 6 month journey, and my mind was busy contemplating the ride. It took awhile to adjust to life on the road in otherworldly places, but for the past few months, life on the road in otherworldly places had become my norm. Waking up every day to something completely new is a lively experience. Going home to something else was certainly on my mind.
Unrelated photo: Machu Picchu, it’s as cool as it looks.
As I arrived in Buenos Aires, traffic through the city was intense. A whole lot of people live in Buenos Aires, and they drive like nuts. I began looking for a hotel downtown, but everything I found was either too expensive, full, or didn’t have parking for the bike. I got the bright idea to drive to the outskirts of town to find a hotel which turned out to be a big mistake. Buenos Aires is absolutely massive. I kept moving south instead of backtracking north, rode for hours through tolls and cold rain, and still never got out of town.
At some point, I turned around and headed back to the downtown area. Night had fallen, and I decided to spring for a pricey room in the city. As I arrived back in the downtown area, I accidentally took the wrong exit ramp on the highway toward the bad end of town. As luck would have it, this was the point when after 14,500 miles my trusted steed finally decided to break down. As the bike began to sputter, I thought it had run out of gas. I was able to coast it into a gas station before my machine finally died. Further inspection revealed my problems clearly were electrical. When the lights don’t work, putting more gas in the tank won’t fix the problem. Besides, I could hear gas swishing around in the tank…more than enough fuel to get me to a hotel.
Unrelated photo: The road….somewhere in Ecuador
I couldn’t believe it, just a few short miles from warm, dry hotels in the city, and I was stuck. I was exhausted, soaked from riding in the rain, and a bit out of sorts as I realized my options were quite limited. As I toiled with the bike trying to make something work, a couple guys standing around chatting took an interest in my work on the bike. They were a couple truck drivers fresh off their shift at the nearby shipping dock. Had they not been hanging around at that gas station the night my bike broke down, I probably wouldn’t have gotten out of there.
When it was clear the bike was going nowhere, one of the guys offered to call a buddy with a tow truck. The tow truck driver, who happened to be violently ill, seemed very reluctant to pick me up at all. It took a very high agreed-upon tow price (by Argentina standards) before he would give me and the bike a lift into town. As luck would have it, the tow truck driver’s wife knew some English and accompanied her husband for the ride. She used her English-speaking abilities to tell me how with money from my tow, she’d be able to take her children to some Disney-on-Ice show they so badly wanted to see. I nodded and smiled as she told me this, but inside I was just relieved that I wouldn’t be risking my life sleeping at the gas station. For what wasn’t more than a $40 buck tow, they probably saved my life.
Unrelated photo: Bike maintenance in Colombia with a Poker beer.
When I was searching for hotels earlier in the day, I came across one called Axel Hotels. For some reason I remembered the name, and remembered that it had vacancies. When I was asking about rates and room availability earlier in the day, I found it odd that all the guys working there had their shirts only half buttoned. But, I’d always heard that Buenos Aires had a “European flair” so I didn’t think anything of it. After the bike was secured for the night in a garage a couple blocks away, I set out to find the Axel Hotel because I knew it had a vacancy.
My internet searches have revealed that Axel Hotels no longer operate the Buenos Aires location, but fortunately photos are still available on Google. Here it is, The Axel Hotel, Buenos Aires
They still had vacancies, so I booked a room. I dragged my ass upstairs embarrassed of my coal miner appearance in such an exceptionally clean hotel. It wasn’t until I got to my room and read some of the hotel literature describing it as “hetero-friendly” that I realized what type of hotel I was in. While showering under their phallic shower head (photo below) never left me feeling so dirty, I’ll have to admit I’ve never slept on softer sheets.
With the chaos of the day behind me, I spent some time standing on the balcony of my hotel room listening to the rain, the sound of the city, and absorbing where on earth I was. What a journey it had been, but I made it…I was in Buenos Aires!!!