The Mega-hitch

Date: 6th March – 17th March 2013

Where: Ushuaia – Peugeot 206 (Rio Grande) – Peugeot 206 (Rio Gallegos) – Peugeot 206 (Somewhere in the pampa) – Peugeot 206 (100km from Buenos Aires) – Buenos Aires

Distance: 8324 to 8333 miles

Apologies for the cheesiness that follows, but some things just have to be written, so if we’re all sitting comfortably, we shall begin:

Before we begin this post, we want to thank everyone who has been following us so far, and encouraging us with comments (in or outside the blogging environment) and ‘liking’ our adventures. Those little bits of effort on your part have really made a difference and kept us going. We plan on keeping the blog going until we return to our house in the UK and will then hopefully finish with an internet link to a video of our adventure.

Well, Ushuaia, it all happened so suddenly. As promised in the last blog, our thoughts went something like:

We’re tired. Need somewhere to sleep.

We should eat. Need steak.

We should celebrate. Need alcohol.

We are asleep. Start to dream.

We dreamt of brilliant blue lakes, beautiful mountains, sparse deserts, lush forests, and of course the people and food we’ve had on the way. Every time thoughts drifted towards the ‘more difficult’ parts of the trip, it was all too easy to gloss over them and think instead of the friends we’ve made, stories we can tell, and skills we’ve learned.

We did little of note in Ushuaia itself, but instead took the chance to meet up with the friends still on the road: Over the next two days we shared stories and caught up with Jorge, the Bandavelo, and Emilien and Xinhan. Martine and Matthijs were there too. They all helped us complete this trip too, just knowing a friend is somewhere on the road nearby helps immensely!

For those who remember Nicaragua, yes the cigar did make it, and still in one piece! It wasn’t exactly enjoyable, but everytime it resurfaced in one of our panniers throughout the trip, the words on the side of it: ‘Not to be opened till Ushuaia’, kept reminding us of where we were going. (Link to original photo of the cigar: CLICK HERE)

Some of the friends we managed to meet in Ushuaia: (top) M and M, (inset) Jorge, (bottom Bandavelo, Emilien, Xinhan, Gustavo, and Tomas

Some of the friends we managed to meet in Ushuaia: (top) M and M, (inset) Jorge, (bottom Bandavelo, Emilien, Xinhan, Gustavo, and Tomas

The port of Ushuaia. THe posh sailing boat in the middle is taking our friends (EMilien and Xinhan) firstly to Antartica and then Cape Town: Lucky them!

The port of Ushuaia. The posh sailing boat in the middle is taking our friends (Emilien and Xinhan) firstly to Antartica and then Cape Town: Lucky them!

Various photos of cigar-smoking lunacy

Various photos of cigar-smoking lunacy

We spent a day in Ushuaia exploring options for traveling North to Buenos Aires. The plane was expensive, the bus, twice as expensive. However luck was on our side. Four months ago a rather portly ex-trucker was relaxing in some hot springs just outside Pucon. We got talking and he told us that many car transporters travel down to Ushuaia full and return empty, we should enquire at the Restaurant Julio where all the truckers eat…

The following day we set off to find the restaurant, figuring it would be along the coast where all the containers seemed to be. We quickly established that Restaurant Julio was actually in Rio Grande, but that the YPF petrol stations were where the truckers congregated. On finding the YPF, we spent two hours speaking to about eight separate lorries, having positive responses from all, and two tentative offers of lifts! Megabonus!

That afternoon one of the offers became concrete, and we were on! All we had to do was get to the YPF petrol station out of town in two hours time…we rather rapidly started packing! Panic packing over, we pedaled hard, and made it just in time.

Lucas and the half-full car transporter pulled up and we gladly loaded our bikes and jumped on, and the Mega-hitch (equivalent to London to Athens) and the Mega-lie began! The side of our lorry was covered in anti-British Malvinas propaganda, so Sarah told them we were from Scotland. They had no idea where ‘Escocia’ was, so all seemed fine, and we weren’t left on the side of the road there and then. One hour later and between us we’d mentioned ‘Inglaterra’ (England) at least four times. Lucas began to look confused!

The same time David Cameron decides to hold a referendum on the Falklands, we get into this lorry for five days!

The same time David Cameron decides to hold a referendum on the Falklands, we get into this lorry for five days!

It's not long before Sarah gets to grips with gaining her HGV licence

It’s not long before Sarah gets to grips with gaining her HGV licence

Stopping for a brief snack, and 'Oh, look, it's a ham and cheese sandwich...again!'

Stopping for a brief snack, and ‘Oh, look, it’s a ham and cheese sandwich…again!’

Things got even more random as the evening went on. He put on a DVD of Fatboy Slim on Brighton Beach, cue lots of drunk English people making fools of themselves! We made a conscious effort to be thankful we were from Scotland. Thankfully, we reached Rio Grande and stopped for the night. Lucas gave us a choice of room (Peugeot) 206, the (Nissan) Pathfinder suite, or the rather battered (Peugeot) 505. We chose the 206, and after the obligatory trucker food, had the first of many perfect night’s sleep.

On we went, past more and more pampa. At one point we went past a lorry crushed by the side of the road. It had been driving empty when a gust of 130kph picked it up and threw it off the road. We were really lucky with our windy experiences! Nothing else happened of much excitement, except that one night we might possibly have slept in our room 206 whilst the car transporter was moving. We justified the risk to ourselves though, by figuring we could put seat-belts on while we slept!

Finally, 86 hours later, after a diet predominently consisting of ham and cheese sandwiches with the occasional milanesa sandwich (kind of like schnitzel) thrown in for a bit of variety we arrived! Geoff promptly left a bag in the car to be retrieved in yet another Geoff and Sarah adventure! Annoyed with ourselves, we got on the motorway into Buenos Aires for 50m before being stopped (it’s illegal). The Policemen stopped a van for us though, and it took us within four blocks of our warm showers host: Virginia! Lucky to the end!

To briefly put our luck in context, the Bandavelo took eight days to hitch, changing rides four times, with the low point being when their empty car transporter was re-directed to Bariloche when 1000km from Buenos Aires! Other cyclists reading this blog…you have been warned!

Our bikes safely strapped onto the car transporter

Our bikes safely strapped onto the car transporter

Curtains securely drawn in hotel room 206 during a rare lay-in

Curtains securely drawn in hotel room 206 during a rare lay-in

Endless pampa drifts by as we head up North

Endless pampa drifts by as we head up North

The final stop before Buenos Aires...Thank you Lucas!

The final stop before Buenos Aires…Thank you Lucas!

Relaxing with a milkshake and orange juice, whilst waiting for our warm showers host in Buenos Aires: Virginia

Relaxing with a milkshake and orange juice, whilst waiting for our warm showers host in Buenos Aires: Virginia

We waited awhile for Virginia to return from her morning chores, but we didn’t have to wait long. She was the perfect host, and we enjoyed our time thoroughly in Buenos Aires, in big part due to the safe and comfortable space we had staying with her. Our stay is best told through photos captions of this lovely city where old meets new almost everywhere.

Beautiful old architecture, shaded by tree-lined streets abounds all over Buenos Aires

Beautiful old architecture, shaded by tree-lined streets abounds all over Buenos Aires

Down by the docks, the architectural slant definitely leans towards the modern (and very expensive)

Down by the docks, the architectural slant definitely leans towards the modern (and very expensive)

Old fuses with new as we explore the City by foot for a few days

Old fuses with new as we explore the City by foot for a few days

The voice of Evita is still everywhere, preaching peronist politics to the people

The voice of Evita is still everywhere, preaching peronist politics to the people

We take a number of completely non-framed photos as we continue to explore round the City. If only Ska-P had been one week earlier! Gutted!

We take a number of completely non-framed photos as we continue to explore round the City. If only Ska-P had been one week earlier! Gutted!

Another year has gone round and the jacaranas are coming into bloom again since we started!

Another year has gone round and the Jacarandas are coming into bloom again since we started!

Going out for a 'parrilla' (meat-feast) with Virginia and some of her relatives

Going out for a ‘parrilla’ (meat-feast) with Virginia and some of her relatives

We spend a morning wandering the streets of Boca

We spend a morning wandering the streets of Boca

Parts of it are very colourful, but a little over-touristy for our liking

Parts of it are very colourful, but a little over-touristy for our liking

Some parts still seem to be authentic though

Some parts still seem to be authentic though

We wander round the famous Boca Juniors stadium, home to some famous players apparently...

We wander round the famous Boca Juniors stadium, home to some famous players apparently…

In the afternoon we visit the streets of the San Telmo district, stopping awhile to watch Tango dancing for the tourists

In the afternoon we visit the streets of the San Telmo district, stopping awhile to watch Tango dancing for the tourists

In Puerto Natales, Geoff had a good idea, and the 'countdown calendar' was born...a thing we've missed from home to open everyday

In Puerto Natales, Geoff had a good idea, and the ‘countdown calendar’ was born…a thing we’ve missed from home to open everyday

After collecting Geoff's bag in the morning we visited the Recoleta cemetary, home to the dead famous people of Buenos Aires

After collecting Geoff’s bag in the morning we visited the Recoleta cemetary, home to the dead famous people of Buenos Aires

Teachign Virginia the basics of bike mechanics as she prepares for her tour

Teaching Virginia the basics of bike mechanics as she prepares for her tour

From here we plan on getting a bus to Paraguay and quickly cycling into Brazil to visit the Iguazu Falls. Our time in South America is coming to an end, less than two weeks to go now! Oh yes, and in case you hadn’t heard: the new Pope is from Argentina (and a Peronist apparently).

A new Pope is born, let's hope he likes bicycles!

A new Pope is born, let’s hope he likes bicycles!

8 responses to “The Mega-hitch”

  1. Manuela Franken says :

    What are all the things on your countdown calender you’re missing from “Scotland”? Can identify hot water bottle, baked beans, pot, pan, towel, slippers, oven.

    • Sarah says :

      Hi Manu, he he, there is also my sister and her family (not Scottish!), mackerel, buttered crumpets, apple and blackberry crumble, a pilow, a duvet, carpet, bacon, gamon and eggs and 4 more to open!!! Just arrived in Santos the port we will be leaving from so very close to sailing towards Europe : ) any adventures planned for you over the next weeks? x

  2. Tom andSandra says :

    Hi Sarah (and Geoff)
    We just warmshowered with Stavros and had a great visit.
    Looking forward to cruising around your blog and wish you well on your journey!
    Tom & Sandra
    tandsinitaly.blogspot.com

    • Sarah says :

      Hi Tom and Sandra, good to hear you had a nice time with my dad and thanks for getting in touch. How are you finding the roads in Crete? Hope you enjoy the rest of your time there. We´ve now arrived into Santos, Brazil and catching our boat home in two days! If you come to the UK get in touch : )

  3. Remi says :

    Missing baked beans? Goodness me, you must be in a real England-deprived state 🙂

    See you in 3 weeks or so !

    • Sarah says :

      He he Geoff is missing the baked beans, whereas fish and chips with a cup of tea would be heaven for me : ) You coming to cycle or we catching up in Cov?

  4. Jean-Baptiste says :

    Hola !
    You are lucky. Quickly between Ushuaia and Buenos Aires. I needed one week to make the same distance. Now, I’m in Montevideo. I’m going to Brazil for the coast. A lot of beautiful beaches.
    After, I think that I go to Iguazu but I don’t no how ? By bus? Hiking ?
    See you

    JB

    • Sarah says :

      Sounds like a good plan! We´re in Santos now and leave on Thursday. It´s the busiest port in South America so if you were to come here I reckon they´d be a good chance of a hitch to the Iguazu area. But the Pluma buses are great and don´t give you hassle for the bikes as they have lots of space (they also don´t charge for the bikes!). The falls are absolutely spectacular, we visited both sides and it was very much worth it. If you only go to one side then go to the Argentinian one as you get to see more falls and a lot closer. Enjoy!!!

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