Buenos Aires, Argentina to Portland, OR, USA

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We arrived into BA on a Monday – April 13th, 2009. We enjoyed the day Monday just catching up with folks back home, talking to other travelers at Dakar Motos, and casually unpacking, repacking, and going through our gear.

Tuesday was all business – Sandra from Dakar Motos came over in the morning to discuss the various options for shipping our bikes back home. By plane or by boat. Lots of questions to answer and figure out.

My friend Carlos back home had done quite a bit of leg work on shipping by boat – he had found several brokers who could crate the bikes for us and the prices were running in the $1000 per bike. In my experience – anytime you ship something by boat, the receiving end of the shipment usually gets a pound of flesh out of you when you try to pick up the goods. There are always some “additional fees” – like: a fee for the receiving broker to get his fat ass out of his chair and walk out to the warehouse – or – a fee for the customs guy to come over and look at the outside of the box before you open it up. Etc… also, we have read quite a bit of info on shipping bikes into various countries by boat. Typically, the ports where the ships dock are not accustomed to dealing with the issues about bikes – licenses, temporary permits, etc. Carlos had indicated that there might be some customs issues because we had not told US Customs that we were taking the bikes out of the country…

So armed with the info that Carlos had found for us – we talked with Sandra mostly about shipping by air freight.

As expected – the cost of shipping the bike is largely by the volume of the shipment. So, the smaller you can make the overall package the less expensive it is. Within some limitations that seemed to be a bit of a mystery.

Sandra gave me the formula and I did a little spreadsheet up to allow us to calculate things quickly – like: if we take these parts off will it save us money – or if we can get it more narrow but taller is it better.

We ended up thinking we could get the bikes compressed down to about 200cm long, 110cm high, and about 75cm wide. – roughly 79” long by 43.5” high by 29.5” wide. This would require us to remove the front wheel, the windshield (and its hardware), take off the handlebar guards (bark busters), take off the side bags, and maybe some footpeg/misc stuff.

The cost would be roughly $1,200 total for each bike and each bike would be on its own pallet. The bikes would ship approximately on Thursday or Friday (April 16 or 17) and would be in Portland in a few days after that having gone through Houston, TX.

So – this was about $200 a bike more expensive than by boat. Boat would have taken about a month to get to Portland – and – I would be willing to bet that we would spend more than $200 per bike in extra fees when the bikes arrived in Portland.

We opted to ship by air and ordered pallets up thru Sandra to be made for the sizes we figured would work. The pallets would be ready on Thursday morning – so we had the rest of the day Tuesday and Wednesday to get things ready.

Wes was fooling around with his bike – and he had the same challenges we did about getting the bike home, making it small, etc…. he decided to completely disassemble his bike at Dakar Motos and make sure it would fit in the size he thought it would –





With all of us helping (sort of, mostly encouraging him to just throw the thing in the trash…) – he managed to get it compressed into a pretty small package –




Wes also was worried about how he would get the thing home after he got to LA… Home is a loose term as Wes would be couch surfing at a friends house in Santa Barbara and was having trouble talking a friend into coming and picking him up at the airport (a full day round trip through LA traffic)… so we talked about getting him a new countershaft sprocket in town. After talking to Javier of Dakar Motos and digging through his used parts bins – we determined there wasn’t a KLR countershaft sprocket in the shop and Javier told us how to get downtown on the trains/subways… I went along with Wes because it was something to do and I could see some of the city.

Well – it turned out to be a long journey – we took a train south to the subway station – 1/2 hour there, then switched to the Red Line and took that to the Blue line and that to a particular station. About 1 hour of travel to get to the station and when we came up to the street it was chaos… tons of shoe stores, pharmacies, jewelry stores, fashion shops, ice cream vendors, people selling watches – but not ONE moto shop to be found. We walked for several blocks dodging cars, busses and taxi cabs looking for moto shops… nothing. At one point I was walking behind Wes weaving through the people on the sidewalk and saw a guy that I thought would know where the shops were – so I slowed down and started to call out to Wes – when someone behind me started banging on my right leg – hard, with some kind of stick or something… I started to turn around and was saying “What is your problem? are you f*cking blind?” – and Wes was turning around to see what I wanted – when I turned around to see what the deal was it was a blind woman who was banging on my leg with her cane… We helped her on her way and had a good laugh about it.

We found a moto shop about 1/2 hour later and they had a sprocket that would fit – although it was a 14 tooth and he had a 15 tooth on there – it would work fine but his bike would have more low speed power (good for wheelies/boosting) and less top speed which was fine with Wes.

So we set about reversing our course home – take the blue line to the red line to the train etc. Well, by now it was rush hour and the trains were full. We got onto the above ground train and it was pretty full – then more people packed on. Wes and I found seats facing each other and mine was against the back wall of the train – right next to the door between cars. A young man ended up standing between the seats right next to me and as the train began moving there were lots of people who were moving from car to car looking for seats. Well, this guy turns to face me – putting his crotch area right next to my head. And he was loving it – Wes was laughing and there was little I could do. I leaned forward and the guy just sort of eased his crotch area towards my shoulder – it was very comical and Wes got great pleasure from it – I laughed too but I think this just egged the guy on.

Of course, while on the train heading northbound, I spotted no less than 4 or 5 large moto shops about 2 miles from Dakar Motos – they surely would have had the sprocket. Wes and I concluded that Javier just wanted us to be out of his hair for a few hours so he sent us as far away as possible.

We managed to make it back to Dakar Motos without being molested by the guy and we set about fixing Wes’ bike – again. I dug through the old parts bins and found Wes a used rear sprocket that was better than what he had on there - so Wes was pretty well setup.

Tomorrow we meet up with John’s wife Lynn and move to a nice hotel!




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