The Journal  

11 March 2006

Buenos Aires

Author: Jeremiah

Photographer: Holly


The Guzzi Flies Again: Shipping the Bike Back to America

The Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires was our last destination in South America . From there we planned to ship the bike and ourselves back to Miami , Florida , where we would visit relatives and take in some Bike Week festivities before riding back to Virginia .

Shipping by air again seemed the best and fastest option. The main airport in Buenos Aires is located 25 miles south of town and we planned to stop there and arrange shipping before heading into the capital. It was after four when we arrived from Bahia Blanca and the customs and airline offices had already closed for the day.

We decided to spend the night at a nearby Buenos Aires suburb, staying at a bed and breakfast that housed pilots and flight attendants on layover. It began to rain overnight and was pouring the next morning as I took the bike back to the airport. Holly and I spent the morning repacking our luggage, keeping out everything that we would need over the next three days and packing the rest in the bike's hard luggage.

The airline offices were just opening as I arrived. I shopped around, thinking I could save money by cutting out the middle man, but finding only exorbitant prices. I walked to the freight forwarder offices asking around until I found a company, South American Cargo, who offered to help.

We spent the rest of the afternoon calling around to make a deal with an airline, eventually deciding the bike would fly with LAN Chile. It was still pouring rain when I pushed the Guzzi in to the customs office to convince the officials that the battery was disconnected and the bike was out of fuel. They filled out the exportation paperwork and searched all of the bags before I helped an airport worker roll the bike onto a wooden pallet where we strapped it down and covered it with plastic wrap. I waited until the “Certificado” stickers and shipping labels were slapped onto the package. It was nearly 7 p.m. before Holly and I were on a microbus heading into Buenos Aires .

The Guzzi was scheduled to arrive in Miami on Sunday night and we would arrive on Tuesday morning. I called the Miami shipping agent on Monday morning and confirmed that the motorcycle had in fact arrived on schedule. I asked if it would be available for pick-up the next day. No, I was told, contrary to what my Buenos Aires agent had told me, U.S. customs clearance usually took two to three days. I explained our situation and asked what we could do to speed up the process. We took pictures of my passport and the motorcycle title and registration and e-mailed them to the agent. That evening, our flight left Buenos Aires , we headed to Miami with no idea of whether our motorcycle would be available when we got there.

We left South America on another red-eye flight, the city's sprawl magnified by its nighttime lines. Our nine-hour trip was provided non-stop by an Aerolineas Argentina Boeing 747-400, which would drop us in Miami before heading on to New York . Unlike our Christmas Eve flight, this plane was packed. Our flight arrived at 7 a.m. and we were at customs by the time it opened at eight. The officials there couldn't tell us anything about the process.


We took a last look at Buenos Aires from the air as we left South America to head to Miami.


We landed down in American soil early Tuesday morning and worked to get the bike out of customs.

We waited at the customs house until late afternoon when we got word that the bike would be available later. At 4 p.m. I walked into the LAN Chile warehouse with all of my paperwork in hand. Two hours later, a fork lift brought the still wrapped Guzzi to the warehouse loading dock. It was already dark when we finally left Miami on our way to Key West .


The flag in front of the cargo customs office.



All photographs © Holly Marcus / Page design by Robin Marcus