Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dobbin updates!

To all well-wishers: Dobbin survived the flight uninjured, and he is now packed off on the next leg of his voyage!



Been rather hectic for the last couple days, so just got the chance to make an update. Monday evening, after a very long 10 hours in Rio airport (just one snack bar selling reheated pizza to pass the time; BAA would be aghast at the wasted retail opportunity!) we took off half an hour late, and finally landed in Buenos Aires after 10pm. Being the "Domestic" airport, the international arrivals area left London City looking like a major transport hub, so it took another hour to get through immigration, and finally got to the baggage area...

And there, waiting right by the enterance, was a large Dobbin-shaped pile of torn CTC flight bag and "fragile" tape! We dug through it and hiding under it, just a little nervous, was the good steed himself, completely fit except one lost mudguard stay pinch bolt. Shortly after we had all the other hold-lugage collected, and went through customs to a few of the ususal surprised looks.

The logistics of getting to the hotel (less than 5 miles away) proved more challenging than the transaltantic flight. The domestic side of the airport was heaving, and elbowing in amongst the locals to attempt to book an over-sized taxi cab in broken Spanish was rather in at the deep end. After a long wait (in which time I confirmed at the LAN desk that they will not fly our out-sized family down to patagonia) the cab arrived only for the driver to take one look at the poor double-bike and ran a mile. So there was nothing for it to empty out the luggage and rebuild him from flight into cycle format, to ride the short distance to the hotel. Dobbin took it all in his stride though, and the moment we jumped on and pulled out of the airport (onto some 5-lane wide highway...!) we felt in our element.



The hotel were equally bemused/confused/enchanted when we turned up. Despite being a 1000 room establishment they failed to have any spot indoors for any guest bike (the first time we've failed to manage this) so we settled for a quiet corner of the underground car park to lock him up, under the watch of a security camera).



First thing yesterday we headed across the road to the main bus station, to inquire at the cargo depot about shipping him down to the south end of the country. Suffice to say, much Spanglish and handwaving ensued, along with a few more humorous (but friendly) smiles, and eventually Dobbin was in the hands of the packing staff, having half a roll of shrink-wrap applied, before being carried out of sight to the warehouse for shipping. We have a receipt for collecting him from the 6th at our destination. In our favour, we did see another customer check in a motorbike for shipping, which gave confidence as to their capability, and also helped us choose amongst the many companies there.



So this just left the small matter of shipping ourselves south! We'd already checked and flights are now all booked until the weekend, so there was nothing for it to go back up to the main bus depot and book ourselves in for a long-haul coach ride down the length of the country. All 2000 miles of it. Lands end to John O'Groats, and back again. Best part of 40 hours on a bus!

So we now have the day to look around B-A some more (sight-seeing details will follow in our next installment!), and will check-in at 8pm this evening for a night-and-a-day-and-a-night on board El Pinguino omnibus. Surely it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.



The end is in sight for the "outward" leg of our journey. Once in Patagonia, we will load up and start the cycling for real. We're now really looking forward to the freedom and control of one's own destiny which that brings.



(Editor's note: for some reason Blogger's spell checker seems broken and will only spell check in Spanish on this computer despite me being logged into a distinctly English looking Blogger site. Coupled with a crazy keyboard, it's hard to compose content. Please excuse any gratuitous typos!)