This is a photo of one of the wealthiest areas of Buenos Aires and no, that’s not me being a courier, but a cartonero, a person who wanders the streets collecting cardboard and other materials which they sell on for recycling. At the beginning of quarantine, the only traffic I saw were these fellows roaming the streets, along with buses, taxis, and very few cars. Now, nearly two months on the situation has changed somewhat, as the rules have been relaxed a little, so the traffic has increased. My bike has also been fixed, with the boys in the workshop doing a splendid job in the space of less than five working days. The engine now has a new crankshaft, pistons, seals, and bearings, as well as new front fork seals and a new clutch.
To say it feels like a brand new bike would be an understatement and now I’m back on the road and earning some money again. I’ve also invested in some new equipment which includes a new helmet, Bluetooth communicator, and a larger Garmin GPS.
A New Lid With Comms
I’ve been using the same modular helmet for over seven years now and must have covered around 40,000 kilometers (25,000 miles) and hit the hard bit with it several times, so it’s fair to say that it’s served me well. My new lid is the same brand but much improved, with a sun visor and a more comfortable fit. I also invested in a Vnetphone V8 Bluetooth comms device which pairs with my phone allowing me to take phone calls on the move. In fact, only a couple of weeks ago, I was asked via WhatsApp to divert somewhere and when I arrived, the lady informed me that the delivery had been cancelled. They had tried to phone me, but since I was riding, I’d missed the call and wasted both time and money.
This model also comes with a remote control which I’ve mounted on the bike handlebars and it’s glove-friendly, enabling me to control the volume, FM channels, and other features with very little distraction.
But what irony. The first call I received with the device active was when I had taken off my helmet to do some shopping in the local supermarket and then very quickly had to grapple to get it back on and then walk around said supermarket like an astronaut checking in with mission control. Still, at least the lid serves several purposes, amongst which is keeping the Covids off me and others, even if it looks a little incongruous at the checkout.
Garmin Nuvi 67
The Garmin Nuvi 40 served me well for about five years, but I really needed a bigger 6.1″ screen and managed to find a used Nuvi 67 in excellent condition with all the accessories. Using Garmin Express, I updated the Argentina map free of charge and also imported my history and favourites from my old Nuvi 40.
This Garmin recalculates much quicker, so if I veer from the route for whatever reason, I don’t have to wait for the unit to reset the journey as it’s almost immediate. Of course, there’s a lot to be said for using Google Maps or Waze, but frankly, I’m not happy about having my Galaxy Note 8, which is my principal communications tool, stuck on the front of the bike for reasons of security. If the Garmin gets nicked, at least I’ll still have my mobile phone.
Back On The Road
I’m certainly more at ease riding around knowing the bike has now been repaired and whilst many countries are slowly easing out of quarantine, Argentina’s cases continue to rise on a daily basis. That means many of the restrictions imposed in March are still in force, apart from businesses now being able to function at least to 50% of normal. Police checkpoints continue to stop vehicles and I have my permit and ID card stuck to the windscreen, allowing me to pass through the checkpoints with relative ease.
However, there’s always the odd rookie who insists on doing their job by the book, not to mention the state where I live insisting on us using a crappy COVID self-diagnosis app which further delays the journey. I can’t help feeling, as I mentioned in my previous article, that the authorities’ control over our movements is more related to people control than disease control, but of course, that could be my anti-authority side coming out. Either way, having to prove who you are to the police several times a day gets very jarring after a while. Anyway, while business has dropped off a fair bit in the last couple of weeks, I’m still delivering and collecting laptops, clothes, salaries, official documents, and not long ago, I was even asked to collect a four-week-old puppy, which I politely declined.
I have several GoPro videos of recent trips around Buenos Aires and once I’ve finished the editing I’ll upload to YouTube and post them here in Part Three of this series.