February 14th, 2013
We had a good flight from Newark to BA. It was great being in business class for that leg. Between the lay flat seats and the Ambien, I got about 6 hours of solid sleep.
Cris picked us up at the airport and drove us out to his office. It was surprisingly hot and humid day in BA, which made us glad that we are heading south and the summer is coming to an end. It’s rough on us Coloradans to deal with anything more than 4% humidity.
We got the low down on the how the Sprinter van worked, tossed all our stuff in the van (totally haphazardly) and headed off to the store for supplies. There was a mall not too far away that had everything we needed – including a Starbucks. Susanne smartly suggested we take a little break to get some ice cream since we really hadn’t eaten lunch. Good call. Our spirits had been lagging a bit, so nothing like a good chocolate ice cream to re-energized the troops.
One bad thing we found out was that when you cross into Patagonia, you can’t have anything fresh, so it made food shopping a bit tough. But we got some basics, some wine and some coffee and managed to head out at around 4:15 pm.
Sebastian, Cris’ brother, had outlined our escape route from BA. Evidently the traffic is horrific and he was trying to spare us that agony. Although we didn’t hit traffic, the going was still a bit slow. One thing I have learned about Argentina so far is that there are more speed bumps per kilometer than any other place on the planet. When you have a Sprinter van full of poorly packed stuff, it makes for a bone jarring and rattling trip.
The first couple of hours of driving was slow and laborious with all the speed bumps and traffic. I knew the first 2 days were going to be the toughest for us, as we were really trying to make a beeline to south. The area around BA is, quite frankly, boring as all get out. Dead flat farmland. We finally cleared the metro area traffic and the road opened up and driving was a bit easier.
Susanne and I have a clear agreement when we travel. She translates. I drive. It works great, because my Spanish/French/Italian/Portuguese is terrible. It is really fantastic having someone that is totally fluent in Spanish; it really makes the logistics a lot easier.
Anyway, the bad roads are legendary in Patagonia. They don’t seem to be much better in and around BA. Plus there are a million farm trucks. Once we cleared the traffic, we were on a two-lane road with a lot of trucks. The road probably hasn’t been paved in 20 years. Between the heat of the summer and the trucks, deep grooves had developed in the road. The driving required a lot of passing. I only made Susanne nervous a couple of times; the Argentinians are nut heads when it comes to driving. Hence our segregation of duties was already working well for this trip.
We were hoping to make it to Azul, but just couldn’t quite make it there. It started to get dark and driving at night is just not a great idea here. Plus, it had been a really long day already. We pulled into a small town just after sundown. There was a spot behind a gas station that has clearly been used by others for a night over. We were tired, so it looked great.
We set up our camp chairs and a table, pulled out some cheese, tomatoes and salami; opened up a nice Malbec and let out a sigh of relief. Whew. It was a long day, and logistically one of the most challenging of the trip, but it had all pretty much worked out. Yeah!
It was Valentine’s Day and I, being the total romantic that I am, really picked out a super nice and romantic campsite for the occasion. Susanne didn’t seem to be really be feeling the mood. So let me better describe the situation and you can be the judge.
The town itself seems to be a very dusty truck stop/ farm town. It’s a bit like Ft. Morgan in that it has the overpowering smell of cows. We are set up in a dirt lot behind a YPF gas station. The road is pretty busy with trucks. There is a stray dog eyeing us and our salami. We haven’t had a shower for a couple of days. It’s pretty hot and muggy. Can’t imagine why Susanne didn’t find it more appealing.
Tomorrow is another long day of driving, but the good news is that we’ll end up at the beach, which should be nice.