A somehow unusual motorbike parade into Montevideo


It was at a petrol station in the outskirts of Colónia del Sacramento that we met two Brazilian motor-cyclists who were on a short holiday tour in Uruguay. This is relatively common, considering that the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul is just on the other side of the boarder, less than 400 km away from Montevideo. We chatted for long enough to get to know that they were already heading home but would overnight in Montevideo, just like us! There were therefore great chances that we could meet them again in the evening or the day after.


As it was, we ended up meeting one of them much earlier. We were arriving at the outskirts of Montevideo when we saw him waving at us to stop. He had a broken chain, and his friend had not noticed the incident and kept driving. He had a rope and was just waiting for the friend to come back to be towed by him. While we were ascertaining the situation, a Uruguayan motor-biker stopped and told us to avoid staying too long in that unsafe neighbourhood. We decided to stay with the Brazilian guy while waiting for his friend to arrive. At least he wouldn’t be alone in this neighbourhood. But the Uruguayan – Alvaro was his name – also stayed with us, even though we were uncertain about his motives…


His friend never came searching for him, so eventually we decided we would tow him ourselves to the centre of Montevideo. Alvaro had in the meantime called his girlfriend, who, like him, was also a chopper motor-biker, and so it was that we headed into Montevideo with warn lights in a parade of 4 bikes: Alvaro in the front, seconded by us towing the Brazilian motorbike and Alvaro’s girlfriend closing the parade. While we were driving in this formation we stopped for a short break as the traffic intensified. At that moment a man on a 50 cc scooter joined us and announced himself as a mechanic. Very nervous and speaking very quickly he asked us if we needed help and promptly diagnosed the problem with the chain. He then left with the promise that he would return with the needed piece and fix the bike. After a while we decided to continue our parade into Montevideo as the night was falling in very fast and we had not very high hopes of seeing him ever again.


It was early evening when we entered Montevideo, which sits on the seaside. The sun had already set but there were still many locals sitting on the beach while others were walking the long pedestrian Rambla Republica Argentina along the beach. It was a lovely moment and we almost forgot the hard mission we were about to accomplish.

It was while driving in this main avenue that we noticed the mechanic on his 50cc passing on our side and proudly exhibiting the piece that was needed to fix the motorbike of our Brazilian friend! In less than one hour the motorbike was repaired and the Brazilian guy couldn’t believe his luck. After thanking the entire group and paying a decent amount to the mechanic, he checked-in at his hotel and the mechanic left the group after the obligatory group photo. We stayed behind with Alvaro and his girlfriend and that was the moment when Alvaro confessed that he had been worried from the beginning. He did not like the area where the motorbike had first broken down, in the outskirts of Montevideo. And he had feared that the mechanic would try to extort too much money from foreigners. For those reasons he had decided to stay in the scene all that time.


It was late in the meantime and we still had no place to stay. Alvaro offered to help us find a hostel for the night and after several unsuccessful attempts he insisted that we stay in their place. We still remember his kind words: ‘our house is humble but it is from the heart that we would like to have you stay with us’. We were very touched by this spontaneous version of couch-surfing, where no internet nor computers are needed, where regular people host foreigners and welcome them in their homes, just like in former times… We were delighted to see that the motorbikes in their home have a special treatment and during the night they do not stand on the street, but instead stay in the living room. So that night we slept with our motorbike by our side.


In the morning, we were offered the inevitable ‘mate’ which Jorge sipped with pleasure in the good old Che Guevara manner…


Luckily our new friends did not work that day and took us on an exciting reconnaissance lap through the city, on the motorbikes. It was a new experience for us to have a motor-cyclist as a tourist guide. We would miss Uruguay and their friendly motor-bikers for sure, but Paraguay was waiting for us So the trip had to go on…

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