Continental partner, and all-round two wheel legend Nick Sanders has just landed in Argentina as he sets off on another motorcycle adventure.
Whilst waiting to get his bike through customs in Buenos Aires, Nick has had some time to kill, and he’s been keeping us updated with how things have been going so far!
“BUENOS AIRES – THE JOURNEY HAS NEARLY STARTED
Arrived Friday in Argentina after an 18 hour flight. Found a taxi, then a hotel and the following morning it was sunny on the Saturday so I hung around San Temlo. Known as San Pedro Heights during the 17th century, what is now Buenos Aires’ oldest barrio, or neighbourhood once housed the growing influx of dockworkers and brickmakers. The bulk of the cities exports of wool, hides and leather were stored in nearby warehouses built close to the nearby port, which is where my bike is presently located. After the weekend I need to negotiate it’s release from customs via a broker and freight forwarding agent – could take a day or so – remember, it’s “Destination Adventure” and the journey starts here.
Adventuring well requires patience. Every day is not a roller-coaster ride of excitement; the fantastic elation of being “on the road” is often replaced with the pragmatic processes of shifting from office to counter, from piles of shifting paperwork and fans that drive around rooms of stale air. Meanwhile, San Telmo was a delight – artists and tattooists welcoming me into their brightly painted shops, graffiti and street art everywhere and a very sense of boho-chic, a contemporary art culture that moved in as the rich moved out to Barrio Norte.
Every Sunday Calle Defense – a long street that connects the commercial centre of the city to somewhere further east, turns into a street market. Like Camden Market in North London, it’s famous partly for being famous, but also because at each corner some innovate street performer, performs. A tango dancer might tap tap to the tune of an accordion player, his trilby seated on his head. Next, a drum ensemble bashing away, dressed in their Boca Junior football shirts, are joined by a tall cross-dresser, all shaved head, tutu and boa feathers. A few street stalls away, a man stood holding onto a lamp post, pretending to be in a strong wind, wires forcing his tie and coat to give the impression he was battling to stay sure footed. There was no wind, of course, a little rain and the sound of the drummers a little way away, but it was a Sunday circus that distracted from the task to ride down to the south, and then the north.
Turning left, leaving Calle Defense, walking along Calle Peru, Bar La Federal known here as a small cultural institution, stands out, it’s warm lights illuminating rows of old bottles on shelves and reserve wines waiting for a buyer. The classic portico is carved out of oak and fixed in the centre of the elaboration, the hands of a dusty clock are stuck at 16 minutes past eight. Parts of Buenos Aires are also stuck in some time-lock and dusty, like everywhere here, either not cleaned or just old.
Always, some shop opens onto the street and exudes charm. Much of the city feels hand-made, or local, but it is all definitively from nowhere else in the world but here. The Argentinianess has a wild-west feel, like something stuck in the last century along with exaggerated politeness and a courtesy that extends itself everywhere like a fragrance. There are warnings about where to go and how, but I didn’t see bad people. There is a sense that you are being watched but not always in a bad way, more side-glanced than stared at but never ever bothered. City folk here are too proud or too busy to pry and it didn’t feel like disinterest, just that there was too much going on to need to know more.
At the Bar Federal, the clock was still stuck at 8.16 – I didn’t know if it was morning or evening – but the music had started and that signaled the next phase of the night. This was only the start as olives were served along with Iberica Ham, sliced on an old ham-slicers turn-table by a man who picked his nose. After a chop of beer, the thought of pulling and pushing and shoving stacks of paperwork was easier on the soul.
Tomorrow I travel to the port to start the process of getting my bike into Argentina and even though the adventure starts the moment you think you are on one, the focus becomes sharper when the key enters the ignition and engages the engine.”
Keep up with all the latest from Nick here.