Monday, November 14, 2005

I may not be able to drive it, but at least it's clean!

11:45 p.m.

Up at 7:00, the street roaring below. Ear plugs are a must if you plan to sleep at this hotel.

At breakfast, I met a retired American from Arizona, Carl Selset. As with virtually anyone, there is a connection. Carl lived in Port Townsend, Washington for many years. This is one of Drew and Susan's favorite towns. I asked if he knew the "Tyler Street Coffee Shop”. He said he didn't know it, but when I described it, he said "that’s 'Sally's Cafe'!"

To call around regarding tires, I first needed a phone card, which I found at a small shop a couple blocks away. With Carolina's help, I called Honda to arrange my meeting with Orlando to look at Pirelli tires. But Orlando ran into some trouble this morning, and was delayed a couple of hours. We would have to meet about 11:00.

Worked on a back-log of blog drafts.

Found the Honda shop without much difficulty. Orlando said the Pirelli representative would bring over tires at 2:00. In the mean time, I asked where I might have my bike washed. He said “here”, and had me pull it into a wash bay, where they had an elevated platform. One of his shop workers washed it for $5.

The shop shut down for their two-hour lunch break (I figured the Pirelli guy was doing the same.)

To pass the time, I polished the bike like it hasn't been polished since Vermont. I figure a layer of dirt isn't going to hide the fact that this is a luxury touring bike. Might as well keep it clean. It also forces one to take a closer look at the bike and, hopefully detect potential problems before they arise. Used some gasoline to finally remove the remnants of the Mexican motorcycle permit from my windshield.

Waited four hours for the Pirelli tires to show up. When the rep finally arrived carrying three different tires samples, they didn’t even include the correct style (a “dual-sport”), and all were the incorrect size. Now, it seems, these were the only options available. Incredible. This was just typical of the miscommunication so common here. People are so eager to help, and information is readily offered, but it’s often incorrect. And I end up going in circles.

Orlando said I should go to “Barbacci Motors”. They have some tires, not exactly what I want, but I should look. I asked him where BMW is, as I also want to investigate bringing in tires from Santiago. He directed me to “Dossier S.A.”. There, I met Andreas Dossier, the owner’s son, who attended to me with the utmost Teutonic efficiency. It was refreshing in this otherwise laissez-faire atmosphere. He assured me he would check on local tire availability and call me in the morning. Meanwhile, to see about importing Metzelers from Santiago, he said I should go to “Inchcape BMW”, the official BMW importer, only a mile or so away. At “Inchcape” (under the same ownership as the company dealer in Santiago), six people gathered around looking at the bike and trying to help find a solution. "Wendy" acted as official interpreter. The service manager, Carlos Kojakovic assured me he’d contact Santiago to see about bringing in the tires. He’ll call me tomorrow.

On the way back to the hotel, I stumbled onto an upscale boulangerie just blocks from the hotel. Thanking my good fortune, bought a huge slice of cake for “lunch”.

I was about to go out and walk around the neighborhood, when I was invited to join Arizonans Carl, Don and Velma in the lobby as they waited to leave for the airport. We talked for over an hour, until their taxi came around 9:00 p.m.

Tonight, played tourist, wandering the streets of Miraflores. Quite a mix of people, but the majority are "20- and 30- somethings". I'm an outsider looking in. A bit lonely position, but still interesting. Many prostitutes out in this upper-class tourist district. One young man asked what I wanted. "Chicas?" I angrily told him "Get out of here!" (which is kind of odd, since this is his home.)

Aggressive drivers are not only confined to cars and taxis. I was about to step off the curb when two buses came screaming by, racing each other. One finally backed off, when he nearly slammed into another bus stopped to board passengers.

After checking out most of the restaurants around Parque Central, I settled on a little tapas bar called "Flying Dog Tasca - Bar", a small shop on a sidestreet off the square. Listened to Bob Marley, sampled a few tapas plates and a couple of "Cusqueñas", watching all the young people.

Stopped for a cappuccino at "Cafe Z". I asked for a small one with poco leche, but received a 16-ounce drink that was mostly milk. Took it back to the counter and tried again, explaining I just wanted a tiny (offering a visual cue with my fingers) cup with a couple shots of espresso and a little (more visual cues) milk.

They then brought another 16-ounce drink, this time with four espressos! Even simple things get complicated when you don't know the language.

Another overcast night. “I just want to see the stars!”

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