Thursday, January 19, 2006

Santiago, and a new tire!

I'm well into this summertime routine of going to bed late, then sleeping late the next morning. Joined the living at 10:00 this morning.

My project for the day was to buy a Metzeler "Tourance" rear tire. "MX Racing Sport" represents Metzeler in Santiago. They were easy to find, just off John F. Kennedy on the way into Vitacura.

A good little shop, with a positive, helpful staff. The tire cost about $245, but that was much less than BMW quoted. They don't have the equipment to mount tires, but the manager jumped in his truck and led me around the block to the "Bimota" dealer. This shop specializes in Italian motorcycles. In addition to Bimota, they represent Cagiva, Benelli, Agusta and also Husqvarna. Admiring some of the bikes displayed out front, the Agusta MV1000 is an engineering work of art.

I was handed off and without a moment's hesitation, Marco Busto wheeled my bike into the shop. Then he showed me around, pointing out their state-of-the-art equipment. They also work on cars and BMW motorcycles. There was a Ferrari, Lotus, mini-Coopers, several BMW motorcycles and other dismantled racing bikes. Finally, Marco offered me an espresso!

$40 to do the tire change was a bit pricey, but they followed with a high-pressure wash (putting out an umbrella to shade the bike!) And then they gave me a free hat! What a classy operation!

Being too new to discard, I loaded up the Pirelli tire from La Paz. It's going to be heavy carrying this, but it may be useful down the road.

Stopped at BMW to confirm whether they had indeed changed my alternator belt. The Service representative showed me on the invoice the charge for the belt (actually less than the one I bought in Mendoza!) Suddenly I felt a little better about Williamson Balfour.

Returned to the hotel to work on e-mail. Received a message from Jeremy (Jeremiah): they are giving up on the Salar de Uyuni. His riding buddy, Allan Karl ("Worldrider") crashed in mud, breaking his right leg in three places, and was medivacked to the U.S. Jeremy said that I made the wise choice and he may follow my route to the coast.

It sounded brutal. And Jeremy's a person who has been through a lot. It's not worth the risk, just to say "been there, done that." (Jeremiah's blog.)

Meanwhile back in luxury: broke away from the computer at 9:00 p.m. and drove to Vitacura to have dinner at "Tiramisu" again. The place was packed, with about a half hour wait.

Dined at the same table. Pizza, a glass of 2004 "L'Apostle" Reserve Cabernet - (excellent!) and bottle of sparkling water. "Segafredo" (from Italy) cappuccino served with a little chocolate, just as in Europe! You know, it wouldn't be bad being rich!

Watching diners and passers-by, there are so many tall people in Santiago. It's pretty funny. Cultures, regions and even nations seem to have concentrations of particular types of humans.

After dinner, it was a kick to dart around the city unburdened with luggage, and with streets fairly empty.

Watched some TV, then turned to the computer again.

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