What I learned on this journey
Over the course of this ride I learned a few things about motorcycles, about Patagonia, about adventure travel, and about myself (among other things). I thought that it might be helpful to break down all of these sage bits of wisdom into two posts, and include a few topics in each post. So, here goes…
What gear to bring – Did I choose correctly?
I did an awful lot of research on all of the gear that I was going to bring on this trip, and looking at things objectively, I can say with confidence that each piece of gear and clothing was absolutely perfect for this trip. A few of my choices could have gone another way, and that would have been fine as well, but I never found myself wishing that I had chosen differently.
I had chosen a Revitt Sand jacket, and Klim pants, both of which performed perfectly. The Revitt jacket allows me to zip in and zip out the waterproof layer as well as the warmth layer, and while it always kept me warm, I found the bulkiness of having all three layers in the jacket slightly undesirable, yet up to the task.
I also brought with me three pair of gloves, all of which served a different purpose, and all of which performed perfectly. LIST THE NAMES OF THE GLOVES
The boots and helmet
I chose the Sidi Adventure Rain boots, and it seemed that at least two other people had the same boot. They were very durable, warm, tolerant of any amount of rain, and provided excellent protection, not to mention that they even allowed me to walk along on hikes as long as the hikes were not too long.
My helmet of choice was the Arai XD-4, and I love the helmet, but
hard to clean windscreen
Could not take off the visor
Rox Risers: I chose the 2″ ROX handlebar risers to install on the F800 GS, and they fit perfectly, but were a bit tricky to install. You have to have a fairly specialized wrench to get them in, and you have to be very careful not to drop one of the screws/bolts into the bowels of the bike.
These risers did however make the bike fit me much better, and made for a more enjoyable journey.
Touratech Lowering Pegs: These pegs are great pegs, and are well made, and while they lowered my center of gravity another 5/8″, it would have been nice to have pegs with a wider base on them.
Zumo 660 GPS: The Zumo 660 performed almost perfectly. As I transferred routes from Basecamp to the Zumo, I found that the Zumo did not calculate the route properly, and I’m planning on talking to Garmin about the route cause. I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that the map in question is an Open Source Map (OSM).
At the very end of the trip, I found that the on/off button on the Zumo was getting stuck, and would not fully release. GIven the amount of dust, dirt and sand I’m not surprised. I’ll simply need to clean it out, and I’m sure it will be back to normal working order.
xScreen windshield extender: These windshield extenders were very easy to install, using the clamp-on system, and they worked perfectly. Nothing else needs to be said. Perfect tool for the job.
We were instructed to bring little money with us, and to use ATMs while in these remote cities to get cash. I would say that it is clear and obvious that the world of finance in Argentina has changes a great deal from when the tour dossier was written, and it should be revised to reflect two important points.
The Black Market
The official exchange rate for the Argentine pesos was 8.5 pesos to 1 USD. If you exchanged USD on the black market, in denominations of $20, you could get 11 pesos to 1 USD, and if you purchased pesos using $100 denominations, you could easily expect to get 12 pesos to 1 USD. So, ultimately, you could make your money go as much as 45% further, by simply bringing more USD in higher denominations.
The cost of ATMs
I cannot help but think that there is a bit of a racket in this part of the world, as it relates to ATM Fees. Most ATMs limit the amount of pesos that you could withdraw, and they charge a fee of $5 for each withdrawal. In addition, the exchange rate is at the SPOT rate, or the legal/published rate. So, if you withdrew 100,000 Argentine pesos, you would lose money on the exchange rate, pay a $5 fee, and be limited to a withdrawal of about 100,000 pesos at a time.
if you used an ATM, you could expect to get about 75000 pesos, or If you had spent $100 USD, you could have expected to get 120,000 pesos, an improvement of almost 60%.
So, if you’re traveling to Argentina, or South America, or frankly just about anywhere, do your homework.
How much money to take out of the machines
I tried to time things so that at the end of the trip, I was not left with any extra money, in either Chilean or Argentinian Pesos. Looking back, I think that this was a misguided strategy. Instead of worrying too much about having extra currency, I should have considered that there are any number of things that might come up, for which you must have local currency, so don’t be afraid to take out more currency, in larger denominations.
This strategy makes sense, especially when you consider that you don’t want to be caught without cash, and the cost of using ATMs can get out of hand, if you make a number of small transactions, instead of a few larger ones.
Before leaving on the trip, I checked with Discover Card, and they confirmed that Discover is available in Argentina, but not in Chile. As it turns out, this card may be available, but I did not find one place that supported the Discover card.
I also found that just about everyone that took credit cards, accepted Visa, but most did not accept Master Card. So, be sure that you’ve got a combination of credit cards, all of whiich can be used at an ATM for getting cash, as well as for charges.