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Old 02-25-2013, 07:00 PM   #105
porkandcorn OP
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Joined: Jan 2011
Location: Portland, Oregon
Oddometer: 296
mendoza, argentina

monday, february 25, 2013

i'm humbled by the kindness of the argentine people. i'm not sure if i'm lucky, or if there are just awesome people all over this country (or both) - but i like it. i didn't know what to think about argentina before i came here, hearing usually only bad news in the american media about the depressed economy, hated president, riots and strikes in the streets, the tanking currency and resulting black markets... now, having been in buenos aires, santa fe, rosario, córdoba, mendoza, and countless small towns in between - i'm officially a fan of this country and of it's people. there is such warmth, generosity, and passion for life that while sitting down for dinner tonight on one of the many crowded pedestrian streets, i myself became a little emotional thinking about everything that has happened to me here. i smiled as i watched people pass by, eating yet another enormous steak. even if something bad were to happen here, nothing could erase the kindness that i have experienced in this beautiful country.

i came into town yesterday, knowing that i would spend today changing my tires and oil. last night i went out for a simple dinner, and found a full-blown wine festival happening near the central square of mendoza. there was two blocks of wineries, a live band, and lots of people for a sunday night. the temperature had dropped, and that brought them out.

megadegustacion festival, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

hey sexy!, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

a mustached man was tormenting the festival at the main tent. he was some kind of honorary figure (from the countryside no doubt), but after a couple hours of pounding wine he got super hammered and was making a scene and generally entertaining and horrifying everyone. to his credit - he kissed, or slobbered on, almost every pretty girl in attendance. and due to his mystery status, there wasn't much anyone could do about it. i was taking pictures, and he threatened to fight me if i didn't take his. i agreed, of course. he stole this poor girl away from her boyfriend for the shot.

very drunk guy at the festival, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

my quiet night out ended up with me dancing to more cumbia with the people that were involved in organizing the festival for the city of mendoza. they are doing a good job of branding mendoza maravillosa as the wine capital of the universe. you have to work pretty hard to find a bad glass of wine, or a bad party around here.

mendoza marivilosa girls, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

the next day, with a slight headache, i met up with mathieu from mendoza motoaventura. he is french, but has lived in mendoza for over ten years. i could understand his spanish perfectly, because he is not a native speaker - funny how that works. i emailed him through his website, because i heard about him through he has never heard of i told him i needed a place to change my tires and oil, and he offered up his workshop in downtown mendoza. mathieu rents motos and organizes moto tours in the beautiful areas surrounding mendoza. give him your business if you decide to come here - he's a fantastic person and his operation is outstanding.

mathieu saved my ass, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

as i was waiting for him to meet me, another guy came up to the triumph, curious about the bike and especially the shiny, new german-made heidenau k60s strapped to the bike. i told him what i was up to, and it turns out he's an ADV rider, with a BMW GS1200. i let him know that my old tires were going to be for sale after i swapped them out for the new ones. the heidenau's are such a high quality tire, the front still looked new after 10,000 kilometers, and the rear had only flattened out on the center of the tread by less than a centimeter - due to all the highway miles i put on the bike crossing to brazil and back. so i decided to only change out the rear.

pato y mathieu discussing my fate, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

josé (who goes by "pato" - meaning "duck") offered up his BMW mechanic for the oil change and to sort out a fuel problem i was having this morning due to what i think was a bad tank of gas at the end of the ride yesterday. this was great, because while mathieu had a good space for the tire change, he didn't have a set-up for dealing with an oil change and the used oil. pato also was interested in the used tires, and eventually found a buyer for me earlier tonight - the son of a riding partner that he rode with through patagonia. what luck!

so mathieu and i zipped off to the BMW dealer. on the way, the fuel problem cleared up. must have been air, water, or some contaminants in the lines, but after some high RPMs on the way to the mechanic, it all disappeared completely. this is good, because that was stressing me out. the mechanic wasn't available until 6pm, which left me four hours to attempt a change of the rear tire in mathieu's workspace.

well, after fighting with the tire for an hour, i accepted defeat. i wanted to at least try. i later realized that when i practiced the tire change in oregon, i had 2x4s underneath both sides of the tire. this allowed me to stand on top of the tire, pushing the bottom side-wall toward the center of the rim, while using the spoons on the top sidewall. i forgot about this, and, there were no materials of a similar thickness that i could find in the workspace to keep the tire toward the center of the rim - essential for spooning on these monstrously stiff german tires. lesson learned.

changing the tiger's rear wheel, mendoza motoaventura, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

so mathieu, ever patient, put my huge-ness and the very heavy tire on the back of his 250cc tornado, and tested his riding skills for the 5-mile drive across town the the gomeria (tire shop). not only did he have my 235lbs, but he had a 75lb wheel and tire hanging off to one side. i hung on for my life through the insane mendoza traffic with one hand, getting a gold's gym quality workout with my other arm holding the wheel for the ride. he is clearly a very skilled rider, as we arrived without any difficulty.

the guys at the gomeria had the tire on in 5 minutes, and we were off to put the wheel back on at the workspace. lesson: don't make life harder than it needs to be - there will be plenty of opportunities to be a hero when the need arrives.

gomeria narvaez, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

spinning on the heidenau k60, gomeria, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

again, today, the motorcycle family has grown. mathieu wouldn't let me pay him for the use of his space and for his time. pato found a buyer for my tires at a fair price, and waited with me for an hour until the purchase was complete. thank you, thank you, thank you. i'm speachless and, as i said in the beginning of this post, humbled...

pato y mathieu have a plan, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

funny that in contrast, i got this note from the lady who runs the pousada where i am staying when i got home. she means well by it - she wants to protect me from possible harm - but at the possible expense of her neighbors. there is this constant dichotomy of trust vs. distrust around here - between people of the same countries and cultures, and between the people of one country or culture vs. another. it's complicated to understand the dynamics without being here to experience it yourself. again, my policy is to just keep to the center.

advice from pousada owner, mendoza, argentina by porkandcorn, on Flickr

porkandcorn screwed with this post 02-25-2013 at 07:15 PM
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