A hitchhiker's guide to..actually, don't follow us

Trip Start Jul 06, 2005
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18
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Trip End Mar 10, 2006


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Flag of Argentina  ,
Sunday, December 18, 2005

We are hardcore, you can no longer deny it.

Just a quick update on where we're at, and for starters its about 2000 freaking kilometres from where we started this little hitchhiking odyssey. We have however arrived in the lovely seaside town of Puerto Madryn, safe, sound and with some serious adventures under our belt - not to mention almost $100US each that we would have otherwise paid in busses and hostels along the way!

We've actually been sitting here for about 3 days doing ABSOLUTELY nothing, it rocks! I honestly can't remember the last time we slowed down and just chilled, did some bbqing and cooking, read, caught up on e-mail, SLEPT...seriously just relaxed. Read on though, and tell me we don't deserve it!

So You Think You Want to Hitchhike?

Not for the faint of heart or those particularly attached to creature comforts...like beds...or warmth...or real food. We started right after I sent the last update, struggling out of the internet cafe with all our gear at 4 AM...the nice, warm, safe internet cafe...and made our way down to the road out of town. After walking about 20 minutes some young guys took pity on us and stopped (what the hell were they doing out at 4AM on a Monday???) and took us to the city limits where trucks pass by. Hmm, maybe this isn't so hard!

5 hours later. Freezing, and starting to work through our food supply mostly out of boredom, we were FINALLY picked up. Not much traffic and even less that was willing to acknowledge we exist, let along pick us up. A nice enough trucker did make room for us, and we rewarded his kind gesture by promptly falling asleep for most of the ride. This may or may not have had some bearing on his ditching us at the next town, 3 hours down the road. Still we'd made the first leg before noon, happy enough we set out for...

Round Two

After hours walking clear across a fairly big town and a fair ways towards where we were told was a weigh scale where trucks stop ("15 minutes walking!!!"), we almost gave in to settling at a hostel for the night. If it hadn't been ridiculously expensive that is. Soooo, we got better directions and headed BACK out to find the scales. Hopped out of the cab, introduced ourselves to the guys running the scales and settled in to find ourselves a truck damn it! Energy levels however, were starting to wain 5 hours later when the scales closed, dark started setting in and the wind and rain picked up to soaking/freezing levels.

Options? Well, we could get a cab back into town and stay at the expensive hostel, OR, there's a dirty little, 3 meter X 3 metre, broken-windowed hut beside the highway, where we'd been hiding between chasing down approaching trucks. Sold! So, check the pics, we settled in for a cold night, me wearing virtually everything I owned and still cold, Mark in slightly better shape with a warmer sleeping bag. We actually slept right through the night until like 8:30! Crazy, guess not sleeping the night before took its toll.

Round 2.5

Woke up, ate breakfast (boiled eggs, bread, some cookies), and hit the scales again. Denied, denied, denied, denied. Randomly we started trying to flag down passing cars on the highway as well as the trucks and what do ya know, a couple of workers headed to the border stopped and took us along. Only an hour or so, but a comfier place to wait, EVERYONE stopping and having to go inside so we could talk to them. Another couple hours of declines, bought a sandwich at the gas station for lunch and BANG, met Juan, the COOLEST TRUCKER EVER on his way out of the immigration office.

This MC Hammer rapping, ex-breakdancing, three stooges impersonating 33 yr old was too good to be true. He not only kept agreeing when we asked to go a bit further down the road (started by asking for a ride to the next border, like 10 minutes!), he shared his food, when we bought him food he insisted on buying for us at the next stop, and was just a cool, cool guy. He had this whole tape of lonesome trucker type songs that he loved, but he had NO idea what they were about, just a random tape that sounded good to him - too perfect! We ended up skipping our intended stop as he was going further and tagged along for one more day.

Ok, so it was too convenient to turn down, but doesn't mean it was exactly easy. Night two had us stopping in the middle of absoluteley nowhere. Seriously, I mean, we stopped at a gas station, but it was half torn down and essentially abandoned. Juan slept in the truck and despite his overly generous offers there was no way we could sleep there, so...

The Closest I Will Ever Come to Being a Complete Bum...maybe

We slept in the half torn down station, next to the smelly bathroom as it was the only thing kind of standing, me on a pile of rubble and Mark in the bathroom hallway, both with some left behind styrofoam sheets as a mattress. There is a hotel adjacent, so we had to sneak through the rubble with flashlights at 1 in the morning to find a spot to sleep, holding our breath at every rustle and clatter in the otherwise absolute silence. Styrofoam, just so you know, is the loudest thing on the planet when you are trying to be quiet and attempt to use it as a mattress.

A fairly restless nights sleep later we were up at 6am out of fear of being discovered and no particular desire to lay in rubble any longer. Just in time to witness from our spot over by the roadside as some white collared dude from the hotel come creeping through the rubble to find our little nest. I can only imagine, "What the...?!?!"

And here we are

Juan woke up about 8 and we hopped in for another day in the life of a trucker. Grabbed breakfast at a little diner (pizza and empanadas), lunch at a gas station (bread and liver pate), and just drove ALL day. Really a cross between fun and fascinating, the whole thing was a hell of an experience. Neither of us would profess the desire to do anything like that second night again but for one night, and with the right mindset, it was just an all out adventure! Cruised with Juan all the way until 8 PM that night when he passed Puerto Madryn and set us off at the side of the highway, 2 days and 1700 kilometres together later!!! One more easy-as hitch the last 8 K into town and we were here, exhausted but happy.

This is a major wildlife spot, whale watching and the lot, but as I said we've spent the last three days recovering our energy and just cooking great meals, sleeping and chillaxing. We had intended when the adventure started to head up to through the east to Mendoza but well, this is where the fates, and our free ride, brought us. Will hit Buenos Aires again in a couple days for about 2 weeks over the holidays - amazing city and SOOOO many friends to catch up with there; it should be a blast. Back across to Mendoza and the east after the holidays before we hit Uruguay and Brazil.

30 degrees and a big pile of sweaty backpackers doesn't EXACTLY spell Xmas for me...Will really miss everyone, obviously my fam in particular, but I guess these are the downsides of being a wandering vagabond traveller.

On that note MERRY CHRISTMAS!! All the best for the holidays to everyone - I really, really do wish I could be there. Will do my best to put together some decent Christmas grub, but then Thanksgiving was scrambled eggs and empanadas....

Over and out amigos and amigas, until the next time, same bat-time, same bat-channel,

--Shawn

PS We did manage to go out one night here, entirely by accident. A little too much red wine with our massive steak bbq and next thing we knew we were stumbling out of some club at 5:30 am. The funny part is that we used the "I know Jose" story...AGAIN. Just rocked up and told them Jose said we could get in for free (there is no Jose), you know, Jose from downtown. 5 minutes of confusion later and they just let us in to the PACKED club without paying cover, works every damn time!!!
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Comments

tamtation
tamtation on

oh so homeless
I don't know about you, but I would have to refuse to sleep beside a toilette. Oh goodness! LOL I love the Jose story, so if you go to Europe what do you say? I know the Queen?

xeniamenzies
xeniamenzies on

i hurt vicariously
all your nights on the floor with the cold... eek... reminds me of winter field excersizes with cadets and hurts vicariously. *big warm hug*. but its awesome that you got some rest.

man all these big adventures. you are like the superman of the hitchhiking world.. or batman even from your ending line.. or would you be a slightly more grown up robin? hehe... i guess you and mark can decide amongst yourselves hehe...

merry xmas.

xenia

p.s. not only do i like bed, and food, and warmth but massages and showers are kind of important to my overarching concept of self-fulfillment too haha.. but i'm sure the deprivation is soul-strengthening.... i think i'll stick to daydreaming while getting massages for a while :D haha

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