Adventure only becomes adventure when there are obstacles to overcome. Today I had the adventure of my life.
It all started after leaving the Corrientes YWAM base. My home for almost the past two years. Only ten minutes down the road I run out of fuel and the reserve tap does not work. Stranded in the middle of the avenue, I wait for the traffic to pass before pushing the bike to the side of the road and fixing the blockage.
The bridge leading to Resistencia.
Then, as I head out from Resistencia, just over the bridge from Corrientes, the bike slows down and loses power. It keeps going, so I persist as it is, but by now I am travelling at 40 to 50 km/h. It is slow, but I am still making progress.
55kms from Corrientes, I stop at Makalle, the first service station I find. It was worrying to not know when the next fuel stop would come. Here, I clean out the fuel tap and Carburettor and then fill up and continue on my way. By the time I leave it is almost midday, owing to leaving Corrientes later than expected due to farewelling various friends throughout the city.
Staring down the load road ahead.
The sun it strong, hot, and overpowering at times, but the wind generated by the bike is enough to just keep it in check. I change into long sleeves and long pants to keep the sun from burning my skin and put cream on everything that remains exposed.
My next stop is in Pres. de la Plaza, a tiny town along the way. Here I clean out the carburettor once again and then fill up with fuel. It is around 1.30pm but even though I have not yet eaten, I decide to press on and eat at Saenz PeÃ±a, a big town not too far away. I never made it.
The bike in bits on the side of the road near Pres. de la Plaza.
At 2:15pm the bike stopped running, making enough unusual sounds to cause me to think that the motor was about to seize up. As soon as the motor stops, I spend the next ten minutes kicking it over and over again, to ensure that it does not lock up completely. It does not help. The bike never starts again.
In my search for a problem and to get the engine running again, I once again clean out the carburettor. It is once again full of bits of rust from the fuel tank, but cleaning it does not help. In the process of working on the bike, I discover that the exhaust pipe is flopping around, hanging on by a thread, so I tighten that up too. A couple of other tweaks and the bike is still not working.
Fixing up the exhaust pipe on the bike.
Then I make my biggest mistake. In trying to tighten a loose connector on my coil, it snaps, leaving me with a bike that will never go again until I replace it. So even though I may have had a chance at fixing it before, now there was no chance. So I pack up my stuff, strap my helmet on the back, slap on the suncreen, and start pushing the bike down the road. It is now 3:30pm.
The place where I started pushing the bike.
The township where I had just come was too small to have a workshop, so I continue onward to the next township, 13kms away. It is slightly bigger and more likely to have someone that can fix my bike. The heat of the sun is exhausting, and before long I am weak and faint in the heat, pushing the bike along only by force of sheer determination. Every time I stop my body just wants to collapse, my heart racing wildly.
Pushing along the side of the road is too much effort, so I push with the bike just on the edge of the road. The traffic is sparse, but at times they come from both directions and meet right where I am, so I have to keep watching both directions and get off the road fast. Some trucks refuse to move even when there is room, and simply lean on the horn. Occasionally some crazy driver overtakes toward me, missing my bike by a hand-span or two. Virtually all are travelling at speeds over the designated 110km/h. Some are travelling close to 200.
The corners were a great marker for a water stop.
After running out of water, I push onward until reaching two small houses. Here two gauchos are saddling their horses, and after building the strength to walk over there, they fill up my empty bottle. I also take advantage of the stop and change into shorts and a light shirt, removing my longs that are now dripping in sweat. It helps, but not much.
Finally I see some buildings that tell me I am entering the turn-off for Machagai. Struggling with the force needed to keep the bike upright, I concentrate on each step, one after the other, to keep me going, looking at the ground before me so I do not see the distance remaining.
The gauchos that gave me the water I desperately needed.
Suddenly a car lets out a long continuous beep, and pulls off in front of me. On looking up I cannot believe my eyes. It is my dear friend Sergio Astarloa and family. They are travelling aound the province of Chaco every weekend to share about their vision for Africa, and just happened to see me as they were passing.
Overcome with emotion, I struggle to put the bike’s stand down before it falls from my weakness. Sergio walks up to me and greets me, and asks about what happened. I cannot believe that he is here to help me. It has been such an incredible day, and I had not even made more than 100kms.
He offers to tow me to Saenz PeÃ±a, since it is the only place likely to have a decent workshop that can fix my bike, and before long I am connected to his car by a thick rope, travelling at 70 km/h towards this big city. The wind of the journey helped me to cool down and gather some strength.
As we journey I consider the amazing coincidence of meeting up with Sergio, and the incredible way that he helped me out of my current situation. It was overwhelming to think that after three hours of pushing the bike along the side of the road where not a soul even slowed to ask how things were, a friend should just appear out of nowhere.
In Saenz PeÃ±a, we stop at a classy workshop. It is the best place I have ever seen since arriving in Argentina. Clean, tidy, and well ordered, it inspires confidence. At just after 7.30pm, the mechanic was about to leave, but agreed to look at the bike in the morning. He talked about tuning the carburettor and other things that I have only ever heard other mechanics mumble about. So I have a lot of confidence that the bike will go well after it is fixed.
A meal and some journalling and my day draws to a close.
Sergio still had to get to his destination, so he dropped me off at a hotel and moved on. I was happy to stay at the hotel after such a hard day; and treat myself to some luxury. After a hot shower and decent meal I was ready to retire for the night. My day was now over, as was my adventure. But it had been interesting.
Now tomorrow waits to reveal its own version of adventure.