The late night with the crew at Las Lilas pushed my departure date back by a day. But it’s getting cold here. I’m looking forward to sandy beaches, warm weather and Brazilian culture. Though I’ll lament leaving Buenos Aires, it’s clear that I must push on. New experiences to write about. New environments to capture with my camera. And new people. And a new language, Brazilian Portuguese, the fact of which stirs trepidation in stomach.
So I’ve got my checklist. Things packed. GPS loaded with new maps and a bike with fresh oil, tires, steering head bearings and exhaust packing. I’m ready.
The farewells as Dakar Motos were quick but with some sadness. A British couple who have been restoring their sport bikes complete with a wacky homemade massive top box were readying to put their bikes on a plane to New Zealand the same day. So without much fanfare I rolled out of Dakar Motos and toward the Boquebus Ferry terminal near Puerto Madero.
As usual, I pushed my luck and my time. I arrived at the terminal within 20 minutes of the departure. I needed to purchase my ticket and go through immigration — you must go through both Argentina and Uruguay in Buenos Aires. Then I had to roll the bike onto the vehicle cargo area on the boat. This all happened fairly smoothly and quickly.
On board, the ship-hands helped tie my bike down. Though I was a bit worried that the suggested leaving it on the side-stand. I tried to convince them to just lean it against the side of the boat and tie it snugly. The old guy shook his head and told me it was an easy ride — a few hours across the Rio del Plata. Then I suggested putting it on the center stand. Nervous about breaking the frail side-stand of the BMW F650GS Dakar, I would worry about this all during the sail across the channel as the waves whipped up white caps and the boat rocked in the minor swells.
Interestingly enough there was only one other vehicle in my cargo bay on this ship. In the summer reservations are required for vehicles as the Porteños make their way to the beaches east of Montevideo. But with the winter rapidly descending on this part of the world all was quiet on the ship.
There are two options for getting to Uruguay by ship. First, is to go to Colonia – perhaps the most interesting and historically rich city in Uruguay. Or, secondly you can sail to Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay. Since Tim and I visited Uruguay in early March, I decided to fast track my time and head to Montevideo.
Exiting the ferry is when it occurred to me. In the rush and hubbub of getting on the boat before it sailed I neglected to cancel or check my motorcycle out of Argentina. All the customs/immigration officers knew I was on a bike. But no one asked. No one prompted me. They were all under the assumption that I’d be taking a short trip to Uruguay and then returning to Buenos Aires.
The ramifications of such a move could be costly. I knew I had at least a 90 day temporary “visa” for my bike. As I waited in the line for customs in Montevideo I thought about my options. I calculated the days since I last was “stamped” into Argentina. I was dangerously close to 90 days. But there was no way I wanted to turnaround and head back to Argentina, pay another two fares on the ship, just to get cleared.
My mind reeled. I would be heading to Foz do Iguazu – the grand Iguazu waterfalls that sit on the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. I figured I could check the bike through customs at the Argentine aduana in Iguazu. Yes. That was my plan.
I rolled the bike to the custom agent. He waved me on. I pulled my helmet off and asked about permission to have my bike in Uruguay. He mumbled some words. The sky getting increasingly dark added to my anxiety of riding into the city and searching out a hotel — I never like riding in the dark. He asked when I’d be returning to Buenos Aires. I informed him I was headed to Brazil and said I didn’t want to have a problem at the border.
He led me to a small room near the bus terminal. Two desks, a couple old school typewriters and two computers sat amongst stacks of papers, books and cups of mate. He yanked on each drawer of one of the desks until he found the form. I noticed carbon paper but there was no copy machine. he filled out my form including all the detail of my motorcycle (VIN#, make, size etc.) and then handed me the paper. He didn’t make a copy of it. Just handed it to me. Odd. There would be no record of my bike in Uruguay. And he completed the form solely for my own personal use — after all, I did ask for the form.
I stuck it into my “important paper” stash and bid the folks good night and head into Montevideo.
The ship and cargo terminal sits southwest of the city center. I could see the tall buildings as the ship approached the terminal. So I figured it would be easy to get downtown. But even following signs somehow I ended up riding a bit outside of town. I asked a couple police offers for directions and soon was in “Centro”. I did the usual quick run of a handful of hotels settled on the Hotel California on San Jose about $24 and includes parking which is around the corner and on the 5th floor. Carlos, the attendant, assured me no problems parking the bike including leaving some of my things attached to the bike. I cover it with his help. He offers to keep the helmet but tell him I need to clean it and keep it.
It’s new again. I forgot about how long it takes to decide on a room. Find a place to eat and endure the inquisitive locals. Wow. I am on the road again. A weird feeling. Still itching from the mosquito bites from Buenos Aires…
Good god. I’m glad I’m back…