The most important thing we did last year was quitting our jobs and moving out of our apartment to live in the tent :)
So on Christmas morning we woke up in a tent and just as we were having breakfast by the decorated Christmas tree, we felt the table moving. Suddenly the lamps on the ceiling started to swing and the jars of jam on the shelves played sound from touching each other because of the vibration. Apparently we got to experience our first earthquake! The epicenter of the earthquake was 250 kilometers west from our location, by the Chiloe Island in Chile. It was a 7.7 degrees earthquake which damaged a road in the island but luckily no one got hurt.
Later that day we went to ask a big family of Argentinians who were making an asado (an Argentinean BBQ) to let us grill a few sausages on their hot coals, but we weren’t allowed to do that… Instead we were given a huge piece of freshly roasted lamb which was enough for us to two meals!
So, to sum up, our Christmas presents this year were pretty unusual – experiencing an earthquake and the generosity of local people in Argentina :)
As we continued riding North after two lazy sunny days of Christmas, the temperatures went up and +30C became a norm. That’s when I stopped complaining about cold nights and cool mornings, cold showers and rain… And where Linas started complaining about weather being too hot for riding :) But that’s only an introduction to hot weathers for us, having in mind where we are going :)
We rode through some of the most beautiful towns in Argentina – Villa La Angostura, San Carlos de Bariloche and San Martin de los Andes and camped in incredible places by the lakes. While in Villa Pehuenia we were invited by the family of locals for a boat ride! So most of the time between Christmas and New Year was very scenic, relaxed and pleasant.
On December 30th we got back to Chile, heading to Santiago for a 10 000 km service for Linas’ bike and a 30 000 km service for mine. During a one-night-stay by the small town called Linares in the camping on the backyard of a very lovely lady Maria Angelica we got into another crime-related “adventure” (the first one happened in Paraty, Brazil on November 1st). In the morning, just as we were enjoying our breakfast, Maria Angelica came into the kitchen together with the PDI (Policia de Investigaciones de Chile) officer and asked if we slept well. Since PDI staff is stamping our passports at every border-crossing, my first thought was that their visit was related to our immigration to Chile… but I was wrong. Apparently during the night, her 3 small houses that she had equipped for rent were broken into. TVs and some other stuff was missing. One of those houses was just 2 meters away from our tent and the motorcycles! They were interested if we heard anything at night. There were dogs barking, roosters singing and all sorts of other village-like sounds, but nothing that we found unusual… We finished our breakfast talking about how lucky we are that those guys didn’t touch our motorcycles and that the riding wear we were planning to leave outside during the night eventually was carried into the common room to avoid humidity in the morning. Just as we were about to pack up and leave, I went to collect the clothes we washed last night in Maria Angelica’s washing machine and hung to dry in her garden. Almost all of my clothes were gone! The evil people took my set of functional underwear, windbreaker jacket, comfortable sweatpants and… one sock! (they also took one Linas’ sock and that was the only piece of clothing that he found missing – all the rest was untouched). I was talking recently about having a bit too many clothes with me, but these were the ones I loved the most and used almost every day… :( Meanwhile Linas made a point that he is much taller than an average local in South America, so his clothes were probably all too large for the thieves, therefore they took mine…
Well, we are lucky that apart from this small inconvenience, we are both safe and sound and can continue the trip without any bigger problems.
And so we continued towards Santiago for a New Year’s Eve which we spent in an informal camping in the suburbs of the capital, a place called Pirque. Actually it was not even a camping, it was Alejandro’s house. He’s a retired policeman with a passion for old Volkswagen vans. He owns three of them. He also owns four dogs, two horses and a big garden with most delicious plums, nectarines and peaches we have ever tasted. So with this never-ending supply of plums falling off the trees and the never-ending joy coming from four dogs when you throw them a toy we spent 5 great days there.
On New Year’s Eve we were invited for dinner with Alejandro’s family and during the evening we managed to keep the conversation about Lithuanian and Chilean economics, culture and seismic situation in Spanish! Our broken Spanish seems to be getting understood, I guess :)
On January 1st Adam (remember the guy from New York who has a Polish babcia who makes awesome palendricas?) arrived to spend a night with us before returning his rental Kawasaki in Santiago and taking a flight to Peru. He bought his first set for drinking mate and had lots of questions about it so Alejandro shared his knowledge with us and we had a great mate-tasting evening together.
Another pleasant meeting we had while staying there was a second reunion with the incredible French brothers Laurent and Jean-Marc. They were staying in the center of Santiago, arranging services for their motorcycles, so we met again to reflect on what adventures we have had since last time we met. As always, it was a very nice meeting with lots of laughing and talking. Hopefully we will meet again somewhere up north.
The main reason we returned to Santiago in the first place, was to service our bikes. Linas’ F800GSA needed a 10 000 km service and mine needed an oil change at 35 000 km. Alejandro helped us call the BMW dealership to arrange a visit for Linas and got a contact of a BMW workshop in the city from his friend for me. The BMW Santiago accepted Linas’ bike on January 3rd, first day after a long festive weekend right when we arrived – without any waiting! And they seriously have a traffic of motorcycles there! People are riding motorcycles in and out, there are more than 20 various bikes always parked around!
While waiting for Linas’ bike to be ready, we took mine to the workshop of Ignacio in downtown Santiago. Ignacio only services BMWs and only some specific models – those with single cylinders, boxer engines or the twins – that means – all the GS models and the ones that share the engine with the GSes. His workshop was just as clean as the reception at BMW Santiago! There was a cleaning lady working around all the corners, the small waiting area had white armchairs for clients and you could probably have lunch on one of the working tables in that workshop with absolutely no risk of getting dirty! Ignacio himself took care of my bike while his colleague took us for lunch in a nearby café. It was incredible – the esthetics, the speed of service and the pleasure of consulting with a true specialist and owner of several GS bikes!
By the way, in his workshop we changed my old Givi rack for the top box (which had a Patagonia edition on it since we rode Carretera Austral in the beginning of December) into the new one we received directly from Italy! People at Givi have sent us their best wishes together with the new model, reinforced rack! Thanks, guys, you are fantastic!
Meanwhile at the BMW Santiago, during the test-ride after the service, the guys found out that the F800GSA has oil leaking on the front fork. As the bike has a warranty, they offered us to leave it until tomorrow for a repair or come back any time during the day so they would quickly fix it. We decided to return early next morning and wait for a couple of hours at the dealership until the job would be done. Again they accepted us without waiting and had the forks fixed in about two hours’ time. Excellent service, tasty coffee while waiting, a few nice chats with other BMW motorcycle owners made the whole experience really great!
So now both bikes are ready to go another 10 000 kilometers and the next service is planned in Columbia!