Saturday, February 13, 2010

A day in Uruguay to seal the deal

Last Friday I woke early and got the bike ready to head to Uruguay for the day. In order to have the bike registered in Argentina in my name, the previous owner and I had to leave AR with the bike in his name for UR then come back later in the day with the bike entering AR in my name. There are some INSANE taxes and silly laws in Argentina but I wont disclose too many details as this process is not exactly legal. Desperate times call for desperate measures, or so they say.

On the way to pick up Ralph I was stopped by two police officers. My heart stopped beating, as I don't have the proper papers to be riding the bike yet. I kept it cool, played dumb and handed him my Cali drivers license and a mocked up title. He inquired about my journey and I mumbled through my helmet that I had been all over the place and loving his country, or will be soon. Either way, he sent me off with a smile and gave my heart permission to beat again. I picked up Ralph at the train station and we rode two-up through the bustling Buenos Aires center to the ferry terminal. Every time a document was requested I was touched with a bit nervousness, but remained confident and determined to pull this off. As I was trying to board the boat with Ralph's bike, I was asked for a TVIP (temp vehicle import permit), which was of course in his name. We tracked him down, as he was already on the boat and handed the paper over the the lovely customs girl and off we go. Little did I know I'd be dealing with her later...

We spent the day at the beach near Colonia, Uruguay, a quaint little village opposite Buenos Aires on the Rio de la Plata. We found a cafe on the beach and I explored my surroundings and soaked in the tranquil setting. We talked about his trip from Australia to the States then down to AR and about my soon to be excursion, which has turned more into a scouting trip (more on that in the next post). The beach was filled with nice local families and was a welcomed break from the city life. Soon after dark we felt the need for comida and headed into town for a peppered steak and papas. By this point my Aussie buddy was feeling good and felt inclined to yell "G'day" to all the passing "Chicky-birds". I was well entertained and was laughing through the helmet at the thought of two full grown men riding down the street in a strange country hooting and hollering. At dinner, we sat on the patio next to what seemed to be the main drag. Chicos y chicas cruising up and down the strip ready for their Friday nights to begin. It will never cease to amaze me how many people can ACTUALLY fit on a scooter! Who needs a mini van if you can get mom, dad and the two kids on the bike all at once? Way less gas.

Finding our way back to the port for departure meant another round of shady paperwork exchanges. But it all worked out and we boarded another luxurious high speed ferry, which meant more beer for my friend. For once, I'm the responsible one! One hour and some laughs later we arrive in AR. I ride the bike off to meet the customs people looking for that most important paper, the TVIP in my name! And it is just my luck that the lady checking vehicles in was the lady from this morning! Another skipped heart beat. She looks at me and says, "Oh, you're back!?", with a confused and slightly surprised look on her face. I shrug and mumble some reason for returning in the same day other than the real one. She asks me to come with her to the office. Not good. Am I busted and going to jail? Does she care that she got papers with a different name this morning and my name now? Relax and just make it work... I wait nervously in her office as she processes another vehicle. When she gets to me, I play it cool and smile as much as possible with out looking obvious. She sees that I am from California and tells me that she plans on visiting later in the year, which is my chance to take the conversation away from the technical questions. I tell her all sorts of things to do and places to visit in LA and next thing I know she is stamping my doc and I'm signing away. Done! I thank her graciously and bust it home. I know own a motorcycle that I can ride through South America!

I could've bought this beast.

Content with some cerveza y sol.

Done deal!