Daniels bike on the way to Rosario cut out a few times. Now this is very disconcerting on our way south to isolated territory. Well on the way in from the race it was worse in the heat. He diagnosed the fuel pump as the issue, which is a known problem with the 800 GS. Well today we are to leave Rosario and since yesterday was Sunday we still have no fuel pump. We really did not want to go to BMW and pay a fortune if they had the part at all. We stopped at the Fussetti Honda dealership 2 blocks from our hotel to ask advice. Daniel knew a Bosh pump would work. Germán was super helpful and even programmed the GPS with the intersection of the auto parts dealership for us. He also offered to install the pump for us if we could get it.
Today it is hot and in the 15 blocks to the parts place Dan’s bike died 6 times, so now we were really desperate. Arriving at 1230 at Bolita auto supply, but they were closed for siesta, but luckily George was still inside. He came out to ask us what we needed. Dan explained we needed a Bosh pump or bomba. By just looking at the part number we had he said he had just what we needed a Delphe universal pump with all the extra bits and for a very reasonable price. What a nice family!
Now back to HONDA!!! Germán quickly and very carefully repaired the bike. The screen had come off the pump so it was sucking in dirt. He did this on his lunch hour and then felt bad he had to charge us for the 1- hour service minimum (380 Pesos) . We were so thankful to him!!! These are honest guys here who are really willing to help you out.
By 2 pm we were done, but it was now 37 degrees and we were sweating in our suits. We drove on the secondary roads to the south and west and ended up in at 126 km in Melincue for the night and opted for a casino hotel with good air con, secure parking and a restaurant.
The morning was 35 already when we left and headed south towards San Raphael. We made our way to the half waypoint at 470 km at Villa Mercedes where we found a small hotel near the highway exit. We had stopped at a truck stop for a huge grilled lunch so ended up with just a sandwich at the gas station for dinner.
On the way to San Raphael we took the 144 to the south of San Luis, but turned back after the sign said no gas for 250 km. This was lucky as we met Enrique and Paulina from Brazil and Sophie from Germany at the gas station.
Arriving in San Raphael after 371 km we found a hotel just off the main park with a great parking lot and very quiet rooms.
There is also a great hot dog place on the corner with VERY cold beer.
We did a bit of a walk around town to see if we could find a cambio office with guys outside making blackmarket exchange. We found the office, but no “hombres”. Asking the manager of the hotel was the best idea. He directed us just around the corner to the “Doctor’s office” and he called ahead to say we were coming. This guy is doing big business in buying USD$. He gave us 10.3 to 1! We were very happy and like the IKEA ad Dan came out and said, “Start the car”.
Leaving town there was evidence of the recent Dakar visit. We headed south to find the famed Ruta 40. But with the late start today we ended up just going 187 km in Malargue and finding a small hotel just off the highway exit.
The wind here is legendary and there were some pretty strong gusts at times. In typical new to the 40 fashion Dan stopped at the sign to get a photo, I stopped behind him and was promptly blow over by a gust of wind. Dan got off his bike to help me get mine up and while doing that his bike was blow off the stand. Ahh lesson learned. No stopping on the roadside.
The road south from here has a bit of construction, but there are two large sections that are not yet paved or maintained. Most of this is good dirt or gravel road, but there are a few parts with deep gravel and sand. For Daniel this is no challenge, but for me it was a mental and physical one. I managed with “more gas and speed”, but was glad to finally see pavement again. Luckily in the worst parts of the road we had little wind.
The wind did finally break enough for a photo op.
I stopped feeling sorry for myself when we saw a ton of these guys! The one pushing his bike in the deep gravel was my hero.
We finally pulled into Chol Malal after only 333 km at 730 pm tired and sore. There is one restaurant in town and it was not open today. Luckily the grocery store was still open.
Lining up for gas in the morning we noted the sign that says they don’t sell you gas unless you re wearing a helmet.