Another Patagonian Desert

Trip Start May 01, 2008
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Argentina  , Neuquén,
Monday, July 27, 2009

After a day coping with the jet lag in Buenos Aires and a couple of bife de lomo with malbec, off to Neuquen by plane, and then to Aguada Pinchana by car, to reach the place I was to work for a week.

Driving anywhere in Patagonia is fabulous, and I had never been to that part. It's very dry, yet there are wetlands created with huge dams, and it's flat but there are plateaus and canyons and sometimes the odd mountain, a lonely volcano and very few animals.

Raul was taking me along in his car and was explaining me a lot about the place and its history. Among other things, this canal we were following had been built on public funds... just after le local government had sold all this dry land for almost nothing to a lucky very rich few. These guys used to grow fruits like apples and pears, on fields created in the middle of nowhere thanks to this canal. And the new trends is bodegas (vineyards), which are appearing like mushrooms in autumn.

However desertic the place, every few kilometers there is a small red hut with red flags: anywhere in patagonia tribute is paid to El Gauchito Gil, a popular figure protecting these lonely souls.

The place we went to was between two ranges of small mountains, it was dry and rocky, although a bit green because of the recent, unusual rain. Ice cold winter air offers unlimited visibility, and we were in the middle of a place where there was nothing for dozens of kilometers.
We paid a visit to the petrosaurios, a couple of giant dinosaur figures made with scrap metal from oil&gas installations by an illuminated franco-argentine artist which had secured the help of two female helpers while he was creating his sculptures half naked and constantly complainign about the lack of champagne... and that's only part of the story

We dropped our stuff and went off for a visit on site, on dirt tracks. The mand is very very rough there, rwith very hard rock everywhere and windy canyons forcing you to go tens ok kilometers to find a way.

We visited a bridge passing over a canyon, still in construction, quite impressive: 140m in length, and the 20m in the middle still missing, over 80 meters above the bottom of the canyon. The wind was strong, and I was not allowed to go have a look.

As we had been told to expect, we saw a couple of condors, who actually live around this canyon. Magic.
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