Travails

Despite my attempt to not complain about the problems of traveling with a bike, there have been a few hiccups already.  Caitlin and my family have received the brunt of my complaints, so I just wanted to take a minute to thank them.  Also, I wanted to write in detail about some of the logistics problems I’ve faced in case anyone has questions.

When I landed in Buenos Aires, the first few problems that came up were resolved easily enough.  Luckily, I had wifi on my bus ride into the city, so I could get the contact information for my host, since I hadn’t received his email before I arrived.  Indeed, the luck held throughout the bus ride – it dropped me at the company’s headquarters about 6 blocks from where I was staying.  Since the ATMs at the airport wouldn’t let me take out any cash (didn’t like American cards), I was arriving with no way to pay a taxi to transport all of my gear.  The six block walk to the apartment was tough, but only six blocks.

One problem that has yet to be solved, my phone still doesn’t work in Argentina.  Verizon told me before I left that if I upgraded to an iPhone 4S, it would work in Argentina.  Something is wrong with mine, though, so that emergency contingent plan is out the window.  Again, I have to thank my brother Matt who is investigating this for me.

The real problems started in Uruguay.  When I tried to get my boat back to Argentina, I found out that Uruguay is an hour ahead of Argentina.  As a result, I missed the 5:00 boat, and I had to wait for the 9:45.  At this time, I also realized I had left one of my debit cards in the ATM when I had arrived in Uruguay. So, that card has been cancelled and a new one is on the way.  I also forgot to take proof with me to Uruguay that I had paid the Argentina entry fee tax.  It seemed obvious to me that I had paid the tax since my passport bore proof I had entered Argentina two days before.  This though, wasn’t enough for the boat officials who scolded me before letting me in.

The final set of problems stem from when I tried to get a bus to Puerto Madryn.  My working assumption was that the bus companies would be able to take my bike on the bus without a problem.  The only long distance buses I’ve been on have cavernous compartments underneath them where a bike would hardly be noticed.  This working assumption proved correct for the ride in from the airport, but that’s where it stopped.

My bus to PM was supposed to leave at 3:00 on Thursday, but was delayed until 7:00.  One bus company official turned out to be really helpful, and said we could ask the bus driver to take the bike despite the company’s strict rules that bikes aren’t alloed.  The driver said no, and put an end to it.  The helpful employee then made me ship my bike via the company’s cargo arm, while I got on the 8:00 bus.  I hauled all six bags of stuff down to the shipping kiosk, sent my bike at a cost of $75 on top of the already $150 bus ticket, and then hauled my six bags back up to the bus platform to get on the 8:00 bus.  So far, the bus has been incredibly pleasant – fully reclining seats with dinner and breakfast served on board.  Now, I hope my transfer from the station to the hostel proceeds without any major problems.  And I’ll have to wait a day before my bike arrives.

What’s funny is that all of the logistics challenges that I thought would be problematic, have proceeded without incident.  Despite not having any cash, I was able to get from the airport to my apartment relatively quickly and easily.  On Thursday, I had to get my third rabies vaccination shot.  I had read that hospitals in Argentina can take hours to serve patients.  The experience for me though, was quick and pleasant, taking only 30 minutes and costing $15.  And finally, before the snafu with the bus, my bike had been operating as if it had never been taken apart.  To get it to Argentina, I had to disassemble it extensively (for pictures click here).  I was worried about how well it would take the fight, but it came together surprisingly easily and allowed me to enjoy Buenos Aires and Colonia.

I’m sure there will be more difficulties as this trip continues.  I hope to keep the whining about them to a minimum.  But this latest snafu has proved to me that I won’t be continuing with the bike by bus for much longer.  At the moment, I’m contemplating shipping my bike to San Carlos de Baricoche where I will reconnect with it in late April.

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