How To Turn A 4,300 Mile Trip Into 13,200 Miles

March 19, 2016

Buenos Aires, Argentina to Cape Town, South Africa. Direct, it’s a bit over four thousand miles. Not bad. That would be about eight hours on a plane. If there was a plane from Buenos Aires to Cape Town. But there isn’t. For me, or for the bike. South African Airways used to fly between these two cities, but no longer does. Which means that instead of eight hours to cover 4,300 miles, it now takes 37 hours and just over 13,000 miles to travel between South America and South Africa.

I left Buenos Aires at 9:30pm on Thursday night. Eighteen hours later (and seven hours of time zone changes), I landed in Dubai, UAE, at 10:30pm Friday night. I’ve traveled to Japan many times from the United States, but this was the first time I had been served dinner, breakfast, lunch, and dinner again on a flight.

I had a nine and a half hour layover in Dubai, and the airline provided me with a free hotel room near the airport to get some proper sleep before continuing on in the morning. I was a bit disappointed to be there only at night, and not get to experience this incredible city in the daylight. But I was also exhausted from being on a plane for so long, and was ready for a bed.

Dubai at night

Arriving in Dubai Friday night.


The hotel apparently functions solely as a stopover for Emirates Airlines. When I checked in, they already knew my schedule, and had already set up a 5am wake-up call, and informed me that check-out was at 6am (how’s that for efficiency?). By 6:30am I was back at the airport and about to board my nine hour flight to Cape Town.

By the time I arrived in Cape Town Saturday afternoon, I had been served six meals and watched ten movies, including:

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • The Big Short
  • The Martian
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Amy
  • Truth
  • The Program
  • The Legend of Barney Thompson
  • Trumbo
  • The Intern

You’ve probably never heard of more than half of these movies. I hadn’t either. But I have to say, they were all good. Some were good for helping me catch up on my sleep. Others, like Barney Thompson, were just plain strange.

As of this writing, the bike hasn’t left Buenos Aires yet. It will fly to London, then change planes and head to Cape Town, and should arrive here Tuesday afternoon. Meanwhile, I’m on foot (well, foot and a half, actually; my ankle swelled up tremendously from all of the plane time, but I’m still walking fairly well), so I plan to do some walking today, and head to the shopping area to acquire some things that I couldn’t fly with, such as gas canisters for my camp stove.

Swollen ankle

27 hours in economy coach seating is not good for the ankle.

The area I’m staying in reminds me a lot of Southern California, and in particular Orange County. The neighborhood, the weather, and the landscape looks and feels a lot like it.

Since I’m restricted to short distances for a few more days, I probably won’t post much until the bike arrives, unless something interesting happens between now and then. Otherwise, I plan to catch up on my reading and rest until then.

11 thoughts on “How To Turn A 4,300 Mile Trip Into 13,200 Miles

  1. #1. See a podiatrist #2 Pedicure
    Sorry your foot is no better but glad you are on firm ground.

  2. Pat, you may want to see a doc about the foot. We know you’re a tough guy, but X-rays may show something.
    And eighteen hours on a plane–not fun. Ha!
    Can’t wait to see some pics from South Africa.
    Take care.

  3. Try to get some boerewors (yummy SA sausage), miele pap, and piri piri chicken while you are there! I’ve had all of them due to David’s nephew being half South African. The chicken is the best, especially if you can handle the heat!

    Have a great time there. Can’t wait for you to start riding again!

  4. Pat, , I wear a pair of “Compression” socks when I’m on a plane for long trips!! The ones I have are Calf length and really help with swelling!! I can’t disagree with getting some X-Rays too before traveling into places where Docs & X-Rays may not be available!!

    Can’t wait to see Photos of the XT’s arrival & unwrapping!!

    • Ok Guys, since I am in a real city, I will see about an x-ray once I have wheels and before heading into the wilderness. The bike is due to arrive tomorrow afternoon and I hope to have it out of Customs no later than Thursday if all goes well.
      Thanks for the compression socks reminder. I hadn’t used those since knee surgery years ago but a good idea. I’ve walked about 7 miles in the last two days, so I probably need to give it a rest and let the swelling go down a bit.

        • Probably, but I’m too cheap. A cab ride and a night’s camping, or dinner, are about the same price. So if I walk, I can extend my trip another night, or another meal. Sounds odd, but that’s the way my brain works these days.

  5. Maybe on your way north you can venture into Dubai with your bike. OR, maybe on the next trip. I would love to see Dubai too :-))

    Please take care of the ankle, you are getting great advice with the comments. We are worry because you are an amazing man. Can’t wait to meet you.

    Here is today’s big HUG <3

    • The warehouse guys at the airport this morning, and the guy at the gas station, would definitely like to speak to you about my “amazing-ness”. They apparently have a different term for it here. I couldn’t understand it completely since most people here speak both Afrikaans and English and I’m never sure which they are speaking, but it sounded a lot like “Crazy”.
      You need to get that XT250 of yours prepped and on the road! I think your route through Africa is considerably more adventurous than mine, but I’m sure we’ll cross paths somewhere.

  6. Pat-my boy has enjoyed seeing that there r penguins in South Africa too, thanks for sharing. Rest da ankle in some Epson salt with warm water. And Madeleine-I really enjoyed ur website and Ewan magregor story, I tried leaving a message on there but I guess it didn’t work so I hijacked Pat’s. Sorry Pat.

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