Stories

 

Argentina - March-April 2011


From March 12th to March 21st, 2011

Here, we could be in Switzerland. The panorama was made of snowy mountains and lakes. On our way, campgrounds and hotels names made us think that there were a few Swiss people living in the area. We had this confirmed by Mr. Meyer, President of the Swiss Club, located near Bariloche.

In El Bolson, we met Nouria and Pablo, two Argentinian from Cordoba on vacation in the south. We spent the day together, exploring the 50 carved tree trunks of El Bosque Tallado and enjoyed a great homemade pizza, cooked on the fire.

    

Kilometers after kilometers, the landscape changed. Mountains became hills and trees were getting rare. Thousands of sheep roamed in the fields accompanied by cows and horses. We regularly had the chance to see herds of guanacos (llama family) jumping fences with grace, rheas (ostrich family) trying to escape, Peludos (tatù family) crossing the road, Flamingos bathing in the lagoons, condors flying over the infinite, foxes in search of prey and rabbits trying to race with us. Almost every day, a rainbow appeared somewhere in the landscape. We spent several days away from civilization. The few villages we crossed allowed us to refuel. Of the 600 kilometers of road which were marked as dirt road, about 150 kilometers were at the end freshly paved. With the tires a little deflated, we crossed this section without much problem. We just had a problem with the starter. After spending the day starting the engine by pushing the vehicle, we found an electrician in a small village who changed the carbons.

    

In El Calafate, we went on a day cruise on Lake Argentina to admire the glaciers Spegazzini and Perito Moreno in Los Glaciares national park. The Upsala glacier was no longer reachable by boat, as icebergs formed a natural barrier in the lake. The color of the ice was unreal. It was such a deep blue that it was hard to believe that icebergs and glaciers are transparent. The most impressive was yet to come. Glacier Perito Moreno. Unlike many glaciers around the world, it was relatively stable. With the time, the glacier progresses on the lake up to the point of reaching the other shore and forming a natural dam. The water level can rise up to 30 meters and the water pressure is such, that at some point, the ice collapse. A few meters away from the 60 meters high and 5 kilometers long monster, we felt really tiny. It was amazing to hear the life of the glacier with creaking noises and seeing huge chunks of ice breaking away from it. Seen from the mainland, it was equally amazing.

    

During our stay in El Calafate, we felt for a dog we named Baloo. During our first night camping, he relaxed near the fire with his other friends. Our vegetarian dish did not have much success with them. The next day, when we were busy doing our laundry, our shower and surfing the internet, Baloo spent the day sleeping in our van. Late afternoon, we went for a walk in town. After many hours of sleep, Baloo found that it was a good idea. Each store we entered, he came with us. Is this your dog? Nope, it's not ours, it is a public dog (he doesn't belong to anyone, but always gets something to eat). The shop door closed in front him. After not seeing us coming out for a while, he left. A few hours later, back at the campsite, who did we find near our van? Baloo! He spent another evening with us. When we went to bed, he slipped his nose at the door. No Baloo, outside ... He spent the night in the moonlight beside our house. The next day we walked to town in order to withdraw money. Baloo came with us. Emotionally happy to see one of his friends, he distanced us for a few meters and lost track of us. Back at the campsite, we just had time to put everything together in order to hit the road. When leaving the campsite, we saw Baloo running back to the campsite. Yes, it did cross our mind! But for the following reasons, we decided not to. He was HUGE! We couldn't impose him our travel pace which was not the best for a dog. We loved our freedom. Although he was VERY sweet, he was not unhappy and most importantly, he was free.

  

Click here to read the following story in Chile.


From March 26th to March 30th, 2011

We arrived at Ushuaia, the capital of the southernmost province of Argentina, located on the shores of the Beagle Channel. This city is often the place of departure or arrival of a great journey across the American continent. At the campground, we meet a couple and their two teenagers who had just completed a three years cycling journey between Alaska and Ushuaia.

In South America, we got back into our culinary habits. We could find all kind of fruits and vegetables. We quickly became addicted to the Dulce de Leche. Aless wandered with his Mate kit, which he enjoyed throughout the day.

During the last few weeks between Argentina and Chile, we met many travelers, with their European vehicle. Jasmine and Luke (www.offexploring.com/jazzandluc), from Zurich, on a trip to South America. Maud & Seb ( www.unptitouradeux.com) from France, which we met in El Calafate. Ruth and Walter from Nidwalde (Switzerland) which we met several times. Suzanne and Hein ( www.svtv.nl), a Dutch couple, traveling with their 3 years old son, Witte. Our paths crossed in El Calafate, Punta Arenas and again in Ushuaia. A team on a commercial travel for the Italian "Birra Moretti". For the 20th years of distributorship, they decided to personally deliver an order to Ushuaia. On board, two drivers, a journalist, photographer, cameraman, etc.. (http://partesaontheroad20.blogspot.com).

    

In Ushuaia, we meet Martine and Jean-Jacques with their Land- Rover plated from Haute-Savoie in France. After a short discussion, we realized they are very good friends of Philippe, a longtime friend of my mother. With Skype and the webcam, we surprised Philippe who could not believe it ! What a small world!

When talking with other travelers who experienced shipping to South America, we realized that the price we paid to exit the Valparaiso port was even less expensive than other ports from the southern hemisphere.

We left Ushuaia and our friends Jean-Jacques & Martine. Approaching the Estancia Harberton, the landscape was amazing. We drove along the Beagle Channel. A lagoon reflected the sky and clouds like a mirror. Due to strong winds in the region, the trees were growing horizontally. We camped near a river on our own. At night, the temperature dropped below zero degrees. The little water left outside in a pot was transformed into an ice block. We left this region with snowflakes and the road covered of a white coat.

    

Click here to read the following story in Chile.


From March 31st to April 18th 2011

After crossing the Magellan channel and the Argentinian border, we camped near Laguna Azul, a beautiful crater lake. The wind blew too hard for Yvonne & Raphael's tent who decided to continue the journey in order find shelter.

We continued on highway 3 where there was not much to see. We crossed paths with Ruth & Walter from Nidwald (Switzerland) near Puerto San Julian then with Lesley & Bruce, the English we encountered a few days earlier in Ushuaia. While stopping for a break on the side of the road, we realized we had a flat tire. But how long for? Who knows ... We prepared the wrench, the spare tire, the jack and began lifting the van. Nooooo ! Our jack broke ! A truck finally stopped and helped us changing our flat tire.

    

Once everything fixed, we headed to Piedras Buenas's campground. Who was driving ahead of us ? We had a nice pizza party with Yvonne and Raphael ... The next day, we met their friends, Marie (from France), Pascal (from Québec) and their dog Gypsi (from Colombia) (www.panamericana_lesglobestrotteurs.com). We spent another evening together, sharing funny traveling stories. Thank you Pascal for helping me with my website!

    

After several days of travel, we made it to Peninsula Valdes where we spent a few more days with Yvonne and Raphael. In Punta Norte, two hours before high tide, we discovered the orcas hunting sea lions on the beach. Fortunately, the show took place a few hundred meters away from us and spared us the bloody details. An hour before high tide, the 9 orcas swam along the beach for the last time, and then disappeared. (website of the local orcas research group : http://www.orca-puntanorte.com / http://www.orcaresearch.org.To make this day even better, the Magellanic penguins could be approached very closely, peludos where tickling our feet, foxes where sun bathing, rheas were racing with us and the hordes of guanacos were still part of the landscape. We found a nice bivouac in Punta Pardelas and that evening, the sunset was breathtaking!

    

It was at Bahia Blanca that we finally changed our four tires at a reasonable price. Then we joined Yvonne and Raphael in Pinamar and met Mary-Anne & Fabio, a Swiss couple with whom they will share a 40' container to return to Switzerland in a few days. We spent a great evening with some BBQ and pizzas for Yvonne's birthday. Perhaps our last evening together on the American continent.

In La Plata, we met Anibal, a mechanic expert and fan of the Volkswagen combis ( http://www.solokombis.com.ar). He gave us a day of his busy schedule and spent time adjusting our break system and answering our questions about mechanic ... To understand the vibe of VW combi travelers, I suggest you watch the little video by C licking HERE Slowly but surely!

After 60 kilometers, we arrived in Buenos Aires, parked our vehicle in an Estacionamento while we stayed in a small hotel located in San Telmo. We spent an afternoon sipping mate with Suzanne, Hein and their son Witte (last met in Ushuaia). We walked through the various parks near Palermo and discovered the colorful houses of La Boca. In San Telmo, we did not miss the huge craft market with its musicians, street performers and tango dancers. After nearly a month without eating in a restaurant, we found a nice vegetarian restaurant in the neighborhood. Huuuummmm ...

    

Over the last few weeks, we enjoyed something very new to us. Meeting other travelers with their vehicle. Everyone on the same path and stopping at the same places, crossing each other again and again et spending evening with our new friends, but always in a different place.

Let's go to Uruguay!

Click here to read the following story in Uruguay.

See the album "Argentina - March-April 2011"