We came to summer in argentina didn't we? Who would have thought this is their summer!
Anyhow, we came to the end of the Andies and not the one on the end of your armies! That one never gets old....or does it. You tell me. We were hoping to get into the National Park after gates closed and so we didn't have to pay. They've stopped that and now have a guy on the gate. We tried 8.30pm and 5:15am and ended up waiting till 7am until they opened and paid £26 to see the ice. Its one of the only non-receding glaciers in the world. Its still advancing. That shows you how bloody cold it is here even in summer! It was actually the best day we've had so far weather wise. We'd still rather be in Chile though and are liking Chile more than Argentina for some reason. We will keep going back and forth as we've not seen even a small percentage of either country yet and need to cross the border about 10 times in the next few weeks.
The place we are now used to have free camping and we are meant to be meeting a load of bikers here for new year. We also found another English Land Rover looking to do the same. Its seems the free campsite is no more and all we can fathom is that its because nobody was staying at the paid camping so they closed the free one to help the local campsites. Well knock we down with a feather.....of course everyone went to the free one. All they needed to do was charge reasonable rates in the pay ones and people will go to them. Free ones don't have hot showers or WiFi and pay ones do (sometimes on the WiFi part) so if they charge under fiver people will go. Problem is they charge over a fiver usually and sometimes much much more. I've been through this many times about rip off campsites....We have now found a free place to camp next to the Tourist Info place exactly where the old free camp was. Figure that one out. Problem is they don't allow tents we think, only motor homes. Matilda is a Motor Home ! She's getting big headed.
We went to one of the pay for campsites and there is still nobody there and no staff to tell us how much it was. So thats just great ! Close the free ones and have vacent pay ones. The bikers will have fun.....
So here we are at 14 months....Started the trip north on the anniversary of the trip. So how long to get to the very north I wonder. Theres talk of running out of money and buying a Dodge van....We talk a lot of rubbish sometimes. We are looking with envy at the huge Dodge vans rolling round Chile.
Some bikers we met. The photos of the rainbow were at about 10pm !!! The ones of the car from the drivers seat at 10:30 !!! Now thats got to be lighter than the UK in summer ?
One roast beef joint cooked to perfection later and its all over. Merry Christmas to all those we may have missed on our mail shot. Some of you have neglected to give us your Email addresses either deliberately or not. So its your own fault for us missing you out. Anyhow. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.
We've spent a few days at the "end of the world" here in Argentina and tomorrow we move on to another party for New Years. Not sure when we will get Wi-Fi again but its looks like the Wi-Fi in the Petrol Stations is pretty common so you never know. We're on the lookout for a new phone in Chile on the way so we might get 3G access again.
The other day on our way to Ushuaia we saw an overlander on rollerblades pushing a cart. I think he was Swedish due to the flags. We honked and he waved. He was about 45km from Ushuaia so we think it would have taken him at least another day to get here. Possibly he arrived today, who knows. I've searched the web a bit and cannot find a Sweedish blader but i didn't spend long searching. We also saw a lot of pedal cycles.
In other news it seems like the end of the world is running late, a Volcano has erupted just north of here and people have evacuated the area. This is quite near to where we will be driving. Lets see what happens. Possibly there is some errors in when the 13th Baktun ends....
The campsite is full of French, theres 13 of them. Theres a Rotel Motel bus with 18 guests and German driver, two Polish on an Africa Twin (tent), and English guy (tent) on a 650 and us. In this mix there are 3 Land Rovers including us. Lets say the French have taken over a leave it at that. One of them, of course, has an Azalia.
Henning will no doubt be laughing at the French invasion. If he's reading this he may also have realised he needs warm clothing !
I have dibs on the oven for Xmas Dinner and will be geting up at 8am to make sure i get it ! Roast Beef anyone....Hopefully they go out for dinner and leave me in peace in the kitchen. I doubt it very much. The over is, shall we say, old and has no guage of any type. My InfraRed thermometer will be used to test the temp. One of its many uses.....
We went into town yesterday and its rather like a ski village off season, which I suppose it is. There's a multitude of ski clothing shops selling all manner of expensive jackets made even more expensive because we are in Argentina. Tourists are of course buying them becuase they haven't brought enough luggage already (only a massive case full) and didn't plan for it being cold. We save one woman buying new walking boots not because she needed them but because she was on holiday. I wonder where she will put them fro the trip home in her already overfilled suitcase?
So for some of you it came and went and for some of us its still here. What am I on about? The 21st December 2012. The End of the World ?? Seems like it didn't happen.....or did it?
We are nearly at our destination. Somewhere not quite a far south as Doncaster is north. However what I can tell you is, its bloody freezing and its mid summer day on the 23rd we think. Check out the Map to see where we are.
We managed to get Ggas. Not the type that comes with poor digestion but the type for cooking. We managed to fill both bottles. Preparation in South Africa with all manner of adapters and valves paid off. They filled both bottles with Propane. We have more gas than we've had on the entire trip previous to this. I'm happy as I do not have to worry about it for another month and I also know they can be filled using standard South American connectors. We did try two places though.
We've met a few bikers and overlanders and theya re all on the path to Ushuaia for Xmas. We wonder what it will be like. Cold for one and busy with Gringo's for another. The weather is terrible. As my Dad pointed out we are blessed by the Gulf Stream in the UK and its much much warmer there ! We had hail yesterday and the wind is,,,windy. Imagine a chav coming here and saying its "well windy". Or even Jessica my niece saying it. Not that some of you know my niece but shes a bit like that. She doen't read the blog so will never know. She's not a chav but too much television and all that....
The journey to our current location (YPF Service Station in Rio Grande) was really strange. We had to leave Argentina with all the formalities that entails and enter Chile, again with all the paperwork for the car. We were in Chile for a few hours and back into Argentina and doing more paperwork. This is all pointless and they could just sort it out with a few politician's talking to each other. They could section off the entire area with single border formalities. They've got part of the way there with the border staff sharing the office but the fact that you have to sign out and in for a few kilometers is hysterical. They should come to Europe and see how it should be done. Its not like you can get to mainland Chile from this place. You have to go back into Argentina. Another example of the Xenophobic countries/governments of this world.
The Chile customs has some strict rules on food so we were careful to read all the stuff on the web. It wasn't as bad as we thought but they seem more bothered about Fruit , Veg and Jam. When they were asking for Jam I think they meant Honey. Cheese, It seems is OK but they asked for Eggs and also Meat. Theres a pretty good list on the web on the SAG website that you can translate. We eat all our eggs and veg in the days before and cooked the meat. The strangest item they wanted to know about was spices. We have all sorts of spices and they would have had to get the Chilli powder from my cold dead hand....they wern't having that. The food is Argentina is bland and not spicy. Even when you ask for extra-extra spicy its as hot as gravy. What I'd give for some birds eye chillis so the powder is priceless. How else would we make our Chilli Con-Carne.
Not taken many photos recently as to be honest there has been nothing to take photos of. The road from BA to here is 3200km of nothing. Its got to be the most boring road in the world. Honestly it really is. I've driven about 300miles per day for a week and we are only just here. We've seen nothing that i've said "look at that". I've said that a lot on the journey and I think we've not said it once in a week. Its REALLY boreing. The truck stops as service stations are great. Most have a good cafe and free Wi-Fi. These are all YPF Stations.
The Ferry was $200Ar and runs about ever 20mins. You pay on the boat. I think you could easily get away without paying. We paid ! Its much cheaper if you pay in Chilean Pesos though you need to get some and there is nowhere we saw.
Don't arrive at the border at 14:00 as I think they went for lunch from 13:00 to 14:00 as it took us 2 hours. As we were leaving there was nobody waiting so it would have taken 10 mins. This is the longest border process so far. Its pretty well signed but on leaving Argentina do not stop at the first post and go straight to the second "Chile" border. You do everything there, even the leaving Argentina parts. If you stand in the queue there you'll be wasting a lot of time. This is the Austral border and all formalaties are at the Chile side. On the way back we think its the reverse with all formalaties at the Argentinan side.
Not quite as exciting as the film. In reality not exciting at all as its 2600km of almost nothing so far and we've driven half of it. There is alegedly some more things to see this afternoon or tomorrow. We shall see....quite literally.
There are a lot of trucks going both directions. We've met one overlander in his camper van and would you believe his name was Stefan Bird, actually its Stefan Vogel but thats Steven Bird if you translate from German. We also saw a UK motorbike, he waved but we didn't see him again. Maybe he's on his was to the south.
We still haven't got gas for cooking and we are using small gas canisters on the backup (backpacker) cookers. We can replace one type of these in main supermarkets but the other camping gas "ezi click?" ones we don't think we can replace. The screw on canisters we have seen in Supermarkets so at least we can cook simple meals on a single ring. We found a little guy today who filled canisters but he was unwilling to butcher his setup to fill my bottle. We may have more success in the next larger town. I have many adapters but none like the ones here.
So far we've been staying for free in truck stops which is good news as we are spending a fortune on Diesel driving these big distances. The headwind yesterday made me use about 25% more fuel. We only did 472 miles when normally we'd do ~600 miles on 101 litres. It was VERY windy and we were heading direcly into the wind all day. The German guy was having a big problem with side wind gusts and as such had stopped hoping the wind would subside. It still hasn't.
Picture of the damage to the roof. The Mosquito net causing the flames,,,the rest just melted and fell onto the bed. Luckily our expensive down sleeping bags were just far enough away. As an Overlander choosing a fire extinguisher I'd go for Halon (or something like) as they make a lot less mess ! I cannot remember the exact name of the gas but they are really good....and expensive. Considering the mess the powder makes, it would be worth it.
Not quite as dramatic as being on the moon but we may be out of contact for quite a while. No working internet on the phone and no 3G. We are back on Sat Phone and Wi-Fi cafes. The Sat Phone messages take 24 hours to come through sometimes. UK text messages to my UK number work fine. Julie switches that phone on all the time as we get bank updates/alerts on that number. We can respond off the Argentina sim card. So we still have contact. Of course we will be updating the map as we try to drive 2600km in 10 days....
Checking out of the aprtment in half an hour. We still need to make the car habitable. There's wiring to fix and stuff to clean. Its a mess !
We've dumped two suitcases today which we've been carrying around since we came home in October. I'm glad they're gone. We seem to have accumulated a car full of stuff. Its about time we had a clear out.
Details on the Shipping costs and agents at each end. We used a "fixer" in the form of Duncan at African Overlanders in Gordons Bay. This cost us 2000 rand and to be honest added nothing. If you want to ship your car whilst you are not there it would be a valuable service however. If you are in country just do it yourself. We had quotes from various agents and costs were similar. If you ship from PE the shipping time is 9 days shorter which we were not advised of. The boats go from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth (PE) and then PE to South Amercia. The container waited 9 days in PE.
We have no complaints to make regarding either end. The final invoice in South Africa was produced after we had stuffed the car so the bill went up slightly. So expect this. The invoice in South America was fixed and everything was above board and perfect. The language barrier was a minor problem.
The South America agent is part of Grimaldi.
Unit C , Parc Dumont, Cnr Railway & Hoist Road, Montague Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: +27 21 552 6577
Fax: +27 21 552 4235
Cell: +27 83 592 6581
HAZARDOUS DOCUMENTATION AND STICKERS 513.00
LOAD AND SECURE / LASH AND STRAP 1,197.00
HAULGE TO LOAD DEPOT 1,254.00
CARGO DUES 1,233.02
TERMINAL HANDLING FEE 1,618.00
OCEAN FREIGHT AND BAF AND SURCHARGES 14,276.00
CTO /NAVIS FEE 114.00
HAULIER HANDOVER FEE 370.00
AGENTS RELEASE AND BILLS OF LADING 900.00
CUSTOMS DOCUMENTATION 570.00
CUSTOMS EXAM AND ATTENDANCE 570.00
FORWARDING FEE 1,824.00
EMPTY LIFTS 570.00
DISBURSEMENT CHARGES 250.80
TOTAL DUE R 25,442.22 (Approx <$3000 USD)
paid by bank transfer so zero tax.
Plate Logistics S.A.
25 de Mayo 702 - Piso 1, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 54 (11) 4894-0445/6
Fax: 54 (11) 4515-0176
Cell:54 (11) 15-5182-1814
Agency Charges: usd 620 (Taxes incl)
Port charges: usd 1580
Customs doc fee: usd 50 (Taxes incl)
Customs Broker: usd 350
Total amount: usd $2600* (Taxes incl)
Paid this in Argentina Pesos as Blue Market exchange rate on changing usd (which we had) is about 28% better so saving us about $500usd off the bill. So Total was reduced to usd $2100. BRING DOLLARS !!!!!
Ever since I got my new laptop (when the other on packed up in Kenya) its had a faulty USB port. Just one of them was faulty and it has four of them so not a big problem. However the keyboard is also sticking so I decided it was about time to get it fixed. Problem is my warranty runs out in February and geting it fixed down here would be a problem....A big problem as it turns out. What I wanted was to register the problems and get it fixed when I return. HP said "no thats not possible as you will be out of warranty". They wanted me to buy an extended warranty to cover something that happened under warranty just because I want it fixed at home in a year. Crappy service. So I called the UK and they said "call Argentina". So I called Argentina, who don't speak English. So I called the USA and they said "call Argentina". So I called Argentina, who don't speak English. Eventually I got a chat session going with and English speaking Argentinian support guy. He said "call Kenya". See where this is going?
Eventually I got the Argentinian support guy to register the faults. He said the "parts will be 24-72 hours" and all will be sorted. As it turns out this was a lie. Parts here take almost a month coming from the USA. He also said "remove the encryption from the drive as the motherboard will need changing and the two are linked". I started the removal of the encryption and it broke. I lost all my data on the laptop. Luckily I got on the internet another way and found this is a common problem and there is a recovery disk as long as I have a copy of the backup encryption key. I did ! No how do I get this disk that only HP are meant to have? So we go to Universal System in Buenos Aires on Chile Av. The guys there didn't understand what I wanted at first but after 3 hours of Spanglish we managed to download the disk and boot the laptop to prove the data was still there. Eduardo at Universal System (this is the same place that HP were sending me for the motherboard) was fantastic. He went out of his way to help me and I left with a way to get my data back. I copied all data off the laptop and rebuilt it using the repair disks. Eduardo spent nearly 3 hours helping me for free!
So the next story....
Today we picked up the car. Faultless process and Matilda started first time. I was a little worried as we had no fuel in the car. There must have been a few litres left. We let down the tires to get it out the container and pumped them back up no problem. She was in great shape......
This was all until the rear LED light shorted out and set fire to the back of the car. Luckily Julie smelt burning and actully said something. I immediately opened the battery box took a look and switched off the main switch. At this point she noticed the flames in the back of the car. I ran round back and unlocked the back door shouting for Julie to bring the fire extinguisher as I unlocked the door. She was there in quick order and I pressed the plunger and the fire was out. Utter devastation. Curtains gone, mosquito net gone, roof bungee nets gone, mattress damaged, roof lining damaged. The car was also full of dry powder and so are my lungs. Its a real mess and I'm really angry we got all this way and a simple short in a LED light did all that damage. I'm happy Julie said something as I could have been GAME OVER......
We didn't take many photos of the damage as I was more worried about getting it all cleaned up. It was worse than it looks in the photos but not worse than I could have been.
We now need a new net, new curtains and new bungees. We have a spare mattress cover and we can spin the hole to the bottom. The roof lining and fittings are just something we will have to live with.
we've had a bit of a problem with the notebook. More on that later. Picking the car up at 10am Thursday....
Hopefully if all goes to plan there will be a proper update on everything tomorrow evening.
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