A new year is cause for big celebrations in Buenos Aires. The dealer told me to pick up my newly serviced bike at 4:00 pm on Thursday. Of course, he’d told me that same time the day before and neither of our bikes were ready, so I didn’t hurry to be there on time. Their operating ours were 9 to 6. I got there about 4:20 to find the cafe in the lobby empty, the lights off and had to crouch under the partially closed security gate. Seems they close early the day before New Years Eve to prepare to party.
Most restaurants shortly after lunch hour on New Year’s Eve, includingMcDonalds. Our group celebrated the coming of 2011 in fine style. We made reservations at a riverside restaurant. The meal was fabulous and desert was served at midnight. We went outside to see the fireworks and our ice cream melted. Fortunately, they served us a fresh batch when we came back in. We had walked to the restaurant and planned to take a cab back up the hill to our hotel. The revelers made it a sellers market for cabs. Instead of a 20 peso meter ride the cabbies now wanted 100 peso flat fee. We chose to stroll back and got to bed about 0200.
About 12 hours later the Dakar Rally started about 200 meters from our hotel.Several teams stayed here and Simon Pavey, rider #51, joined us for breakfast and dinner. He runs the BMW off-road school in Wales and told us stories of his previous seven rallies. Twenty-nine quads, 171 motorcycles, 140 autos and 67 trucks crossed the line starting at 14:30 and ending at 20:00. Autos consisted of BMW Minis, dune buggies, pickup trucks, Ford Explorers and everything in between. Trucks are HUGE four and six-wheeled MAN and Volvos. They start in the order listed, with the slowest in each class in the front. Estimates of 1,000,000 people lined the route to watch the vehicles leave. Wheelies were a common salute to the crowds.
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