Chile 6

On Friday morning, the 10th of February, we must get the BMW out of Chile, as the 90 day permit is about to expire.  This was excuse enough to head to Argentina.  We plan on relaxing in Mendoza, in western Argentina (about 600 miles west of Buenos Aries) for 3 or 4 days, and then head back to Santiago to join 40 other riders for a 4 day trip south of Santiago.  This will be our 8th crossing of the Andes.

So off we go, climbing the Andes.

The roads and temperatures are great.

Up and up we go.  In Chile they actually number each switchback.

This was switchback 18, and we are only starting up the hill..

Previously, we have reach altitudes of 16,000 feet to cross the Andes.

This time we are crossing near the highest spot in the Western hemisphere, Mt. Aconcagua, which is 22,831 feet high.

But, we must only climb to 12,560 feet.

This photo was taken at the 8,000 foot level.

Here, at 9,000 feet we pass a beautiful lake. 

We are only 10 miles from reaching Argentina.

The same lake, with the ski lodge in sight.
At the 10,000 foot level, you have the option to take the tunnel through the mountain, into Argentina, or take the dirt road 2,560 feet higher over the ridge line.

No option for a dirt rider.

Take the dirt......

So we climb and climb and climb.  The bike is jetted for sea level.  The bike is way overloaded as we had just returned from home with too much garbage.  The bike will not run unless I keep the RPM's above 3,000.  Below 3,000 and motor dies.  If I give it any gas at all the front wheel starts floating, making turning impossible.

We have ridden over 9,000 miles in South America and my clean record is broken.  We biffed it.  No big deal.  Just embarrassed!

Sandy is a great sport.  No big deal.  It was only 750 feet down, over the berm! 

Hey....... This is starting to be an Adventure again.

This would have been a lot of fun on the KTM 525!
The vistas were stunning.
We get to the top of the pass, and meet a couple, riding their African Twin. 

They were from Buenos Aries.

Sandy, standing on the Chile - Argentina border.
Description of monument.

Now for a "Then and Now", and the reason we could not take the tunnel.  We had to get to the "Redeemer".  This picture was from Fireside Travels in South America, printed in 1948, by James Fitzpatrick.

The next "Then and Now" was at the same location.  It was photograph in 1925, by Frank Carpenter and published in his book "Carpenter's Travels". 

Not much has changed here in 80 years.
This monument is right on the border between Chile and Argentina, at 12,560 feet.
The dirt road over the pass is only open for 3 to 4 months a year.

Even in the middle of summer there is snow along the road.

The dirt road, heading down into Argentina.
I am sure that if this terrain was in the United States, it would be a National Park.
Another great vista......
Abandon railroad facilities, high in the Andes of Argentina.
Life is good.

1) Nice Roads

2) Great scenery

3) Great weather

4) Beautiful skies

5) And the bike is running!

This is the dirt road we just completed to drop into Argentina.....

On Saturday, the 11th of February we arise in the beautiful city of Mendoza, Argentina.  We are now about 600 mile West of Buenos Aries.  Mendoza has nearly 1,000,000 residents and is located at about 3,000 feet.  This is a big Wine area.  And it is very inexpensive.  

So we start the day out with a long walk on the tree lined streets of Mendoza and spot this old "AJS" motorcycle.
And some unusual cars.
There are many old Citrons in Mendoza.
And old Ford Falcons, which are slightly different than those in the States.
We gain access to the top of a 10 story building and get this picture which shows the abundance of trees in Mendoza.
The streets are lined with sidewalk cafes.

We park the bikes at the hotel, next to 2 other BMW's which are obviously travel around the world.  They belong to Simon and Lisa Thomas.  They have had a rough 2 months.  He rode his bike across a narrow and rotted bridge in the Amazon, and flipped off the bridge and fell 12 to 15 feet and landed on his head.  Lisa watched as he laid there unconscious for 15 minutes.  He broke his neck.  He rode for 23 days to Sao Paulo, were he had surgery and a titanium plate installed!

Here in Mendoza, he just got out of the hospital, trying to recover from Malaria.

Their excellent website is...    www,

Pictures of the accident site are located here...   The Bridge and Accident

Post surgery pictures are here... Pictures of new "Neck" hardware

This is the bridge where Simon broke his neck.

This is the condition of many bridges, as you cross the Amazon basin.

Dry rot and slippery.
No "Highway Department" to keep the bridges maintained.

The road was closed in 1991 due to the number of deaths on this road.

Bad news, in the middle of nowhere....

The board collapsed, when his rear wheel started to cross the bridge..... 

And no place to put his foot as the bike went over....

Simon, out cold, in the extreme heat of the Amazon basin.
Five days of riding out...

With a broken neck...

Not a good day for Simon, in the Amazon basin.

And this is 6 days after the accident.

It took five days of mud trails, to reach asphalt......

All with a broken neck!

His neck now has a device that now looks like a "Master Link".
Simon, resting prior to surgery, in a Sao Paulo hospital.

Simon and I have a few things in common. 

1)   We both ride BMW motorcycles

2)   We both enjoy traveling

3)   We are both lucky that our wives' travel with us

4)   And we both have scars on our necks from Surgery!

5)   And we both have "Pink" toothbrushes, but that is another story....

Sandy, sitting on Simon's bike.


I am now suffering from "Decal" envy!

Simon is suffering from Malaria and recovering from a recent neck surgery, but Lisa cuts him no slack!
Typical grill at an Argentine restaurant.

Argentina is not a good place to be if you have 4 hooves!

They have covered a few miles during the 2 to 3 years!
So the BMW's get to spend 4 nights together.

And we had 2 evenings with Simon and Lisa Thomas.

We are up until midnight for two nights in a row, sharing stories, some of which we can't convey!

Mendoza skyline...

On Sunday (the 12th), we putt around Mendoza.

This is Park San Martin, which covers many square miles.

The park had numerous fountains......
And other travelers!

In summary, I was a little depressed and concerned that the "Adventure" aspects of our trip was over, and that the balance of our travels would be soft.  But, as we travel South America in a counter clockwise direction, we learn from Simon and Lisa , traveling in the clockwise direction, that our Adventure is far from over......

For "Chile 7" hit the Next button...       For "Chile 5" hit the "Back Button"....

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