On the way to Osama, we did spot the volcano but it was surrounded in thick cloud and didn’t make much of a picture. We were met at the airport and, along with others, loaded into a van and ferried to our hotel. It was there that we learned that our MotoAventura company was not our tour guide but another company called ‘GlobeBusters’. Despite GlobeBusters efforts, they had been unable to deliver the package of information to us. This made for a lot to digest, and it was then that I noticed little things going wrong – just silly stuff. Like the hotel had given us each a voucher for one free non-alcoholic drink, but surprisingly, it didn’t include tea or coffee. We met the group
and went to supper at a nearby restaurant for a great group meal. The next morning, the drivers of the bikes were taken to MotoAventura who supplied the motorcycles. Lots of paperwork including payment of insurance. It seems that the bikes were only covered for damage exceeding $5000 US. We were liable for anything less than that. Just before leaving Toronto, I had paid the remaining amount due – paying by direct bank transfer, which turned out to be bad mistake as it was not covered by any insurance. There was one other issue – one of the panniers didn’t close properly but since it did, with difficulty, close and looked to be water-tight, I accepted the bike. It was a 2016 BMW R1200GS but it had huge dints in the exhaust header pipes which were noted on the acceptance sheet. This didn’t bode well for the kind of roads we would soon hit. By mid-afternoon we were on our way to Villarrica, Chile, 229 kms away. . One of the other bikers had kindly loaded my GPS SD card with the map of the route, with all the waypoints. Apparently, we didn’t travel as a group but instead followed
the GPS which, with any luck, got us to the next evening’s lodging. With more luck, you might find people lingering at a lunch spot too. Well, that was the next problem. I got stopped at a red light, missed the next turn and travelled most of the day alone, wondering if we were still en route. Saw lots of gravel and farmer’s fields too. Fortunately, we spotted some bikes in Villarrica or we would have missed the hotel too. Border crossing the next day was an adventure with all of us getting an experience looking for the paper we were given when we arrived in Chile. Our lunch stop was a bit confusing in San Martin – no specific meeting place designated. Our final day’s stop was San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina. There was a paved road option on the way which we took and were glad we had. Third day we all stopped at Butch Cassidy’s hideout and then continued to Futaleufu, Chile. It t
urns out, Chilean’s have large lineups to get across their borders despite their procedure for being more organized. At least 3 line-ups required. It seems every town or village in Chile has a main street called O’Higgins and that’s where our hotel was. The fourth day, Jan 28th, we were on our way to Coyhaique, Chile. We were now on the famous Carretera Austral route which had a lot of twisty roads and a fair share of gravel. Where there is gravel, the
re is a lot of washboard so enjoying the beautiful scenery is a bit of challenge. Shari and I are traveling alone but we know Thomas is following somewhere behind us in the truck. We stop at a site for a river view and 2 tourists offer to take my photo. I have new glasses that automatically tint and so I take off my glasses. That’s the last time I remember seeing them. When we arrive for lunch, I have to unpack my spare glasses to continue riding. Jan 29th – more and more gravel and more twisty roads – we only travel 266 km today but all but 90km are gravel. The paved sections seemed to well done, however, just not near enough of them. Our d
estination is Puerto Guad
al and we continue on the Carretera Austral. There are a lot of hairpin turns, and with a passenger behind me, the turns are not easy to navigate. At one turn, the bike is stalling out and I ask Shari to walk a few paces. Getting on and off is not easy for Shari. The pannier on the left isn’t mounted properly and it takes a while to dislodge her left foot. Shari doesn’t say anything and I wasn’t aware of the difficulty until later. There are frequent stops for road construction and I’m following a white pickup truck from stop to stop. They are de-limbing a lot of trees and the gravel roads are potholed from heavy truck traffic. At one stop, the flagman waves the pickup truck ahead but within a few metres, he stops him abruptly as a huge truck is speeding down the hillside. The pickup slams on his brakes, I do as well but my feet won’t touch the ground as I’m suspended between two mounds under each tire.. I shout to Shari that we are going over and she calmly says ‘OK’. Workmen rush to help right the bike and we continue on. I ask Shari if she’s OK and she says she may have dislocated 2 fingers “but, it’s OK, I straightened them”. I turn absolutely pale from guilt.
Saturday, January 30th, is a day not to forget, although I’d like to. We leave Chile and head back in to Argentina with La Angustura as our destination. The Argentinians have been ordered to pave the major tourist routes and all of the roads appear to be under construction. We are to travel over 500 kms today. Iti’s all I can think of is Shari’s discomfort. She had been taken to see a doctor who determined at least 2 fingers were fractured and her right hand is in a splint. By agreement, Shari will travel in the truck when there is gravel. We are nearing the end of the day when we hit the final 42 kms of gravel. Shari and i stretch our legs as we wait for Thomas and when he arrives
, I ride ahead alone. The gravel doesn’t seem too bad but the sun is at a low angle. I’m wearing sunglasses inside the helmet which helps with the sun but makes seeing somewhat difficult due to the polarization. I approach a small h
ill and as I get closer, I pick up signs of thick gravel. The right side of the road is in shadow and normally I might go to the left where my visibility is clearer but it’s on a hill and I decide to give it a bit more throttle to climb the hill. The bike starts to wobble and the more I try to control it, the wobbling gets worse. I’m now on my left shoulder and I can feel pressure building up on the my sternum. I’m saying to myself, ‘this is not good’. I try to extricate myself from the bike when Thomas and Shari arrive. It’s a good 1/2 hour before I can climb into the passenger side and I hold onto handles as Thomas drives the insanely – bumpy road into the Hacienda. The owner arranges for a bed for me to be helped to and I’m stripped of my motorcycle gear, which includes my wallet. An ambulance is called – I think I’m going to the next stop en route, which is El Calafate but instead they take me to Gobernador Gregores. The doctor is the driver and one of the few nurses is my assistant. The next 42 kms, I will hardly forget. Shari is sitting on my hips and the nurse is pushing on me and the sides of the gurney to keep me from bouncing at each bump. I’m calling out in pain. When we arrive, I hear a doctor speak in English that he wants me to position myself for Xrays. There is no way I can do that and that’s all I recall.