The trip was instantly jammed back into fifth gear with Mom's arrival on Tuesday. The past two or three weeks in Argentina and Chile I had worked myself into a very leisurely 2:00am to 11:00am sleep schedule with nothing but coffee and calories during the daytime. I was getting nothing done and loving it. Tuesday morning that all changed; now I'm trying to keep up with her bright-eyed bushy-tail enthusiasm for travel for the next two weeks, something Charlie and I gave up long ago. It's not a bad change, just a lot more to take in.
Monday night I convinced Charlie to come out for 'a beer' at the Irish pub in Santiago's Bellavista district. The Packers were playing the Vikings; enough said. My eyes were glued to the screen the entire evening while Charlie practiced his Tony Soprano accent on a girl from New York. 'A beer' turned into several pitchers and by the time the game ended at 2:00am we reluctantly decided to turn in.
It's a good thing we did; at 7:30am we were awoken by the local car rental company. Charlie had hired a Toyota Hilux 4x4 the day before and they decided to deliver it and have us fill out paperwork at the ass crack of dawn the next day. By the time it was all filled out we barely made it to the airport for my mom's arrival. Nevertheless, we were there, nursing coffees at the international arrival gate at 10:00am. After an hour's wait Mom finally popped through the exit and gave me a big hug. Neither of us got emotional, but I was sure glad to see her. We all hopped in the Hilux and Charlie drove us home.
Back at the hostel we dropped Mom's luggage and immediately went out for lunch. It was a greasy meal, just what we all needed. Afterward she and I checked into our rented apartment and Charlie drove off for a much-needed nap. Tuesday afternoon Mom and I walked around Bellavista and took the Funicular (tram) up to the top of the hill to get a 360 degree view of Santiago. It's a beautiful city from any angle. On top is a religious sanctuary celebrating the city's 450 years of existence.
We took a break after that for the afternoon but in the meantime I rode my bike over to the Suzuki dealership just two blocks away and pulled out my laundry list of repairs: clean gas tank, clean carb, clean chain, clean the rest of it, lubricate cables, lubricate swing arm, lubricate all other moving parts, new fuel filter, new air filter molding, replace shock, replace leaking hoses, replace anything else broken, missing, or failing. And while you're at it, fix my horn. I think there was even more, but that was the meat of the work order. The technician looked at the 25,000 miles on the odometer and understood. In the end I said I wanted it to be like new again, and he nodded and smiled. I was confident in him; when I pulled up he was in the middle of putting together a brand new DR650 right out of the crate. There were three others still boxed up beside it. Finally a professional!
That evening Mom and I went downtown to see Santiago's Plaza de Armas in the evening. It was all pretty mundane to me, but she had the camera on quick draw the entire time. Around 9:00pm we both got real tired so we smashed some Chinese food, boxed the leftovers, and walked back to the apartment. We both slept about ten hours that night and were up late morning on Wednesday to see the rest of the city. We had picked up some groceries and did a brunch in the apartment before leaving.
Since before she arrived Mom wanted to take a bus tour of the city, so the first thing we did was buy tickets and hop on. The Turistik bus line was a good way to see the whole city, but in hindsight it was a complete ripoff. The draw of the scam is that the loop route has thirteen stops and you can hop off whenever you want. You tour the stop on your own and then wait for the next Turistik bus to come along, guaranteed every thirty minutes. What I didn't realize until we got on was that the first seven stops are all within a half hour's walk of each other. And that the other six were gems such as the mall, the shittier mall, and even the Sheraton Hotel. Of course the buses didn't show up on time once either. I could have done the entire route on foot with a pair of cab rides in half the time. Having come all this way via motorcycle, it was very hard for me to resign my schedule to a tourism trap. But Mom enjoyed it and I'll admit there were some cool things out there that I wouldn't have seen otherwise.
By the time we completed the loop we were both beat and went back to the apartment for a siesta. On the way I stopped at the mechanic's shop to check out his progress. It was all good news; he was halfway done and everything was coming along very well. While cleaning the carb he found a big blockage on the interior filter of my main fuel intake. I know that's actually bad news, but it's great to hear that it's gone. He didn't seem to worried about it and was pretty positive about the rest of the bike's condition. When I left he was pressure washing the engine with a soapy mixture. They're taking 'like-new' very seriously. This stop in the garage might cost me a bit, but it's money well-spent. The garage is also going to park it for free for the next two weeks while I'm out of town.
Charlie spent Wednesday picking up his brother Andrew and friend Greg at the airport and helping them settle in. That night we all met at the Irish pub and the Hamersley's put on a show with the help of a lot of red wine. It was another 2:00am performance and at the end it was me dragging my mother out of the bar. Charlie, Andrew and Greg were all heading south in the Hilux Thursday morning at it was agreed that we'd catch up again soon before the trip is over. With that we shook hands and went our separate ways. Since the Aussie boys are here for an entire month, I hope to catch up with them once Mom flies out and get in on some of the shenanigans. Judging by their stories from Thailand together, it will be raucous.
Today Mom and I got up, checked out, and hopped on a bus for Mendoza. It was seven hours including a lengthy stop at customs. Mom enjoyed it a lot more given that I've done most of that ride twice already. Still, crossing the Andes, is always pretty cool. We got a five second window where Aconcagua was in perfect view and the rest of the time just marveled at the ski lifts and cliff faces everywhere. Now we're in Mendoza with bellies full of steak. Booked in for two nights here and on Saturday the plan is to overnight to Buenos Aires. With luck the reunion will continue in BA with Alex as the headliner. He's finally free and probably in La Paz right now. Expect some high fives.