Impressions from Argentina

In Argentina by Cassie & Cédric6 Comments

While Cassie took over the driving back to Buenos Aires, I finally have time to write some posts (also possibly because of evening laziness).

About this trip, it’s been possibly one of the record wildlife watching month:

  • go-kart driving between owls the first days,
  • foxes and rabbits or other rodents pretty much all the time,
  • the strangest birds: cormorants, condors, penguins (a loooot of them), rheas (local small ostrich), birds who prefer to examine cars in the middle of the road then take off, vaultours and other eagles
  • (possibly) a Puma (Cassie wasn’t sure cause it looked like a huge rabbit from behind)
  • We’re now experts in the life of sea lions and elephant seals
  • Guanacos (aka. sort of southern south America Llamas from all-weather proof) – by the way, Cassie should write about how I rescued a Guanaco!
  • Armadillos (indescribable animal – sort of cute-hamster/ninja-turtle/prehistoric-survivor)
  • Commerson dolphins
  • Patagonian skunks, possibly the stinkiest animal ever, regularly killed by cars on the roads, they make you switch off the AC at lightning speed (except the few times when the skunk smell comes from the passenger seat…all windows open!)
  • Many others (sorry for all those tiny ones collected on the windshield…)

Argentina has also one of the richest variety of landscapes and climates. Our trip has already gone through almost anything imaginable:

  • Humid and tropical arriving in Buenos Aires (where we arrived dressed with winter down and fleeces clothes thinking immediately of the Cape Horn
  • Being in the pampa a few hours later: a gigantic agricultural area producing most of Argentina’s cereals and meat. If Martians are observing that area, they’d probably imagine that cows have managed to enslave a few remaining humans there to produce cereals for them…
  • Being on a dry and rocky, almost arid desert plateau a few hours later
  • Freezing and fighting to pitch the tent in furious wind gusts the next day
  • Tundra-like landscapes afterwards before spending a few days in dense forests between snow covered mountains and alpine lakes (and chocolate producing almost Swiss villages)
  • Getting lost on dirt roads surrounded by glaciers (not Europe type of dirt roads, more like ”well, if we’ve got a car problem here, we may reach a town within a few days with the satellite phone and lose probably less then a week…”
  • Enjoying the views of pristine lakes in fjords going further south
  • Somehow loosing the Andes for over a thousand kilometers continuing down through dry steppes
  • To arrive in amazing mountain shaped like towers, and possibly the world’s most difficult climbs (we stayed at the bottom wondering how we could even begin)
  • And enjoy the zenitude of landscapes at the end of kilometer- and decades-long glaciers (also called by me “the spirit of the mountain”, or also kinda my only almost-spiritual moments 😊
  • Feeling like reaching the end of the world while getting closer to the Tierra del Fuego and almost touching Antarctica just a little bit further across the ocean
  • But nevertheless finding the lively city with petroleum exploration, duty-frees, malls and night clubs in Punta Arena (humans are really spreading their crap everywhere…)
  • Walking on an asteroid 🌠 while scrambling into the volcanic region of Pali-Aike.
  • Observing giant sea mammals and other birds in a UNESCO wildlife reserve probably bigger than several European countries with only a handful of people in it and wondering which animal we’d be. Cassie thinks more Magellenan penguin, I’m more Guanaco cause you can just walk randomly anywhere in the continent and nobody cares, or maybe a sea lion cause you can burp anywhere, walk over others and piss off the entire colony just for fun…but we both agree that being an Orca is definitely a better idea in the food chain positioning)
  • Wondering if kilometer 980 just didn’t look exactly like km1432 or km1758 on the Ruta 3. I swear there has to be some kind of hyperloop-quantum-worm-hole experiment on that road…

Randomness about Argentina:

  • Life is crazy expensive, luckily for the budget wild camping is very easy. We kept on wondering how people live here with regular 3$/h wages… Argentina is in my very top of most expensive countries, some travellers met saying it more expensive than Australia (usually a top reference). It appears that the Gini index is high here, with very important disparities. Hiking alone in a natural reserve may cost you more than a concert of an international band…
  • But as a result, hotels and restaurants are mostly empty (and therefore probably even more overcharging anyone daring to enter…)
  • By the way, if anyone reading this post has possibly positive ideas about protectionism, blocking imports, currency rate decided by governments, etc. like it’s the trend in some western countries…you should check out Argentina! They’ve tried all of that and have greatly succeeded in destroying all their industry, made everything overpriced (and thus affecting only the poorest, others go abroad), and finally by playing with the pesos and having a continuously unstable economic situation Argentina is a rare country where Argentinian investments abroad are more important than in the country…if you have a tiny bit of money you simply protect it abroad. Whichever country anyone comes from, there are always 200+ others available. Argentina has managed to make the poorest poorer, and the richest simply using $, € and other foreign financial instruments.
  • Argentina is huge, Buenos Aires about as huge…result: the land is mostly empty (therefore nice, clean and photogenic), and the capital a 100x100km concrete nightmare with a third of the country’s population (the very center – about 3x3km – is nice enough though). Maybe it’s actually a good solution: humans compacted and more nature around.
  • Driving in general isn’t so bad, road are mostly everywhere okay even with the tiniest car, including dirt roads. There isn’t much traffic anyway so it’s easy to pass trucks, avoid potholes and drive basically anywhere on dirt roads
  • Not much religion in the country, not many churches in town (or none at all), especially compared with Mexico (or Europe…but European ones are more monuments than anything). Buenos Aires seems a bit different though. However Argentina has thousands (millions?) of shrines for a famous Gaucho Antonio Gil/local Robin-Hood/unofficial saint. We thought at first that those red shrines on the side of the road were for car accidents…but we figured out that it was way too much!
  • Food (my opinion) isn’t particularly amazing…a lot of meat with meat, nothing elaborate, not vegetables, even less fruits, and every single restaurant propose the same menu pizza/sandwich/pasta/steak/milanesa. We cooked and it became better and better over time on the camping stove!

I’m done with the most disorganized post of the trip (so far!).

Cédric

Comments

  1. Good summary! but Cassie did not forget to mention your unforgettable experience with the Llama. I hope it got thankful….Now take care after your tropical fishes that miss you. Finally regarding the food, was not so far from Germany….

  2. Author

    That’s why we kept on improving our special recipe of tuna/green beans/tomato sauce noodles 🙂
    Usually cooked on a gas stove in a fireplace …

  3. On the past couple of ski trips to Whistler, up in Vancouver, BC, I met people from Argentina skiing there. Wondered why they came so far to ski, because it is expensive to ski in Argentina (which is what Austrailians say about skiing in Australia and New Zealand) . . .or maybe they are going to pick up some of their money they keep outside of Argentina??

  4. Funny… 🙂 so skiing in Argentina must be very very expensive….. because paying such an aircraft ticket would worth skiing a full year in the Pyrenees…. Good to hear all of you!

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