Selling the bike, the headache thereof

The blog doesn’t end there, folks. To your disappointment – not to mention my own.

The next stage of the adventure: selling the bike. Easier written than done, it would appear. I won’t bore the tits off you, but basically, it’s against the law in Argentina to buy or sell second hand motorbikes. And since Mike’s name is all over the documents, and the Argentinian computer systems, it makes sense not to cut any corners.

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Argentina has really loved the bike. We have attracted crowds in this country bigger than any other that we have been through (probably exactly because second hand bikes are illegal here and import taxes on new vehicles from the US are through the roof so there are no Urals and nothing like them in this country). So when we put a For Sign sale on the bike here in Ushuaia, we were inundated with blokes interested in buying it. Really serious about it, but without realistic solutions on how to get around the law (“you could drive it across the Chilean border then we could ship it back in a truck” that kind of thing). Very stressful.

One man, Luis (who has turned out to be a blessing from heaven, and with whom we are now kipping), came the closest to having an answer. Classic vehicle registrations, border crossings, other ideas. Costly, but just about viable. We need to get rid of the bike before we leave because it’s Mike’s name on the papers, but even this was not the ideal solution. Lots more driving, which is the one thing we’re keen to avoid. Much as I love the donkey, nothing would be more depressing than having to spend days doubling back.

Just as we were beginning to lose all hope, fate intervened.

12km away from downtown Ushuaia, further along the wooden and winding coastline is the Parque National. 12km further into the park, the Panamerican highway ends as Argentina’s National Route 3 comes to a close, and a well-photographed sign. We needed a photo opportunity.

As we headed into the park, we passed a laden cyclist. As I mentioned before, Ushuaia is the great bottleneck of all the long distance travellers, so we pulled up beside him and asked how his trip had been. Turns out that he’s just arrived and planned to cycle to Alaska.

Dean is his name. He’s spent the last 4 years cycling up Africa from South Africa, arriving in Lisbon a few months ago. From there, he got a flight to BA with his bike, spent a couple of months learning Spanish in Montevideo, Uruguay, then got on a bus with the bike down here to start the great ride up South America.

Dean Fiore, new owner of the Ural, hands over the side panel to the old owners.

Dean Fiore, new owner of the Ural, hands over the side panel to the old owners.

He pulled up beside the sign as we were recording our final piece to camera with the bike (much “I can’t believe we’ve made it and we’re still married” etc). We explained that we were done with our journey and looking to sell the bike. And he said, with a certainty which surprised even him, that he wanted to buy it. He was fed up of two wheels and pedal power and had been asking himself how he was going to motivate himself to do it all over again.

So that’s what we’re up to now. Transferring ownership of the bike over to him, sorting it with Ural HQ (who own the bike) and Alaska (who own Mike’s ass).

Boring but true.
That said, Ushuaia is an awesome place to be stuck for a bit (unlike Bolivia…) It’s a big enough city, perched on the bay at the base of mountains (after the flat nothingness of North Eastern Patagonia, nothing could be more welcome than topography). It all feels very Scandinavian, and I love a bit of Scandy. It’s the main set off point for Antartic boat trips, so there are lots of tourists, all with a whiff of adventure about them. The town (sorry, “city” – it needs that status as it proudly states that it’s the southernmost city in the world) absorbs the tourists well, and maintains its own outdoorsy character without drowning in its many tourist tat shops. I like it a lot.

We have found a sea captain who is prepared to read out the results of the tests, and renew our vows if they come out affirmative. I have spent the afternoon buying “Te Quiero” balloons and the like. Mike has found a divorce lawyer who is on hand for if the results are negative (Mike has been disturbingly excited about this). THAT will be tomorrow’s little update. With any luck, the write up will be a little spicier than this prolonged bike yawn.

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