11th December 2008 - The trip starts here.


Cycling trip to South America, starting at Bueno Aires.
 
Paul took us to Trumpington Park and Ride to catch the National Express bus to Heathrow, with the plan to take us if the bikes were refused.
 
As we expected, the driver made the usual fuss about space, but found plenty of room when ten pounds was pressed into his hand.
 
 Our problems started at Heathrow when the desk told us that we could not check our baggage all the way through, but only to Rio de janerio. We would have to collect our baggage at  Rio and check in again before going onto Buenos Aires.
Never mind. We resigned ourselves to this but were a bit concerned that we only had two hours between flights.
 On the plane, we were told it was going to San Paulo first and taking eleven hours. OK, flights often change, but this was the start of a nightmare journey.
 
After a sleepless night we arrived at San Paulo and were herded through immigration and x-rayed several times before checking in at desk for boarding pass to Rio. A one hour flight to Rio and a two hour ordeal collecting our baggage, immigration again and customs who insisted on inspecting our bikes and further x-rays. By this time, we had missed our next flight to Buenos Aires (or so we thought). Another hour trying to sort this our and we eventually boarded a later plane. By this time we had been travelling 24 hours and were in no mood to find out that the plane was going to Buenos Aires - eventually, but would stop in San Paulo where we had just come from!  
 
It seems that because our baggage was routed to Rio, we had to follow it, even though there was no need for us to go there.
To add insult to injury, our seats were also mixed up resulting in us changing seats twice during the journey due to double booking.
 
By the time we arrived, it was late and the only thing we could do was get to the nearest hotel for the night. So much for our plans to ride away.
The hotel picked us up with a van for our bikes. David let Joan have the front seat, but much to the amusment of the driver, sat on the left and shut the door before realising that she had a steering wheel.
 
Next morning we finally rode away south out of BA. A stiff headwind all the way and riding along the hard shoulder of a motorway was the only way out. Like many other countries we rode the motorway unchallenged past the many sighns forbiddidng cycling.
 
Very boring, flat, busy roads into a headwind interspersed with the occasional bus ride and 400 miles later we arrived at Bahia Blanca.
From here on it gets very desolate indeed. The pampas is a low scrub that extends forever in all directions with nothing to be seen on the horizon. The major roads between towns are mainly two lane and dead straight and sometimes with a two ft hard shoulder. Up till now we have always had a very strong headwind and the cycling is no fun.
 
We have been there, done that and that is not what we returned to Argentina for . We have decided to bus most of the way south to cut across to Chile and start cycling proper., hopefully with a wind on our backs.
Our journey was broken at Viedma in order to cycle albout 100 miles along a spectacular, desolate coastlinne.
 
While looking for a campsite at the small seaside town of Balnearo del Condon a car passed us and signaled us to stop. A young lady got out, welcomed and kissed us both and asked if we would like to oin a group of international motorcycle travelers at a camp site. We followed a short way and were cheered and clapped enthusiasticaly as we rode in. The dozen or so motorcycles had passed us on the road in and were amazed we had cycled so far into a raging headwind.
 
The group belonged to an organization for world travellers. - Horizons unlimited.com. We spent two days with them swapping travel stories, drinking local beer and eating barbecued beef.
 
On the map, the coast road looked to be about 100 miles and ran close to the sea most of the way. With wind behind us we set off but after a few miles the road turned to gravel and sand. The sandy patches were impossible to ride as the wheels dug in and the gravel kept our progress slow. David fell off several times when his wheels slid on the gravel.
 

Regards,
Dave and Joan