Evita and a New Pair of Glasses

Trip Start Sep 27, 2005
Trip End Mar 07, 2006

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Thursday, February 2, 2006

The drive from Ushuaia to Buenos Airies started on Australia Day and proved to be one of the more eventful. Leaving Ushuaia you have to travel back into Chile, cross the Straits of Magellan on a ferry and then travel back into Argentina. This is all achievable in 1 day as long as the weather is good as these are sealed dirt roads not tarmac. Unfortunately the weather was quite bad and coming to a steep hill the truck decided to fishtail and almost went into a ditch. This required everyone off the truck and push. There was 14 of us and a 17 tonne truck but after some effort and using the sand boards to add a grip the truck rocketed forward and it looked good for about 100 yards when the wheels started spinning again and we were stuck again. This time it required a rope attached to the truck and us pulling to try and stop the truck moving sideways but after an hour where we went about 100 yards and with over 100 yards to the top it was decided to reverse back down the hill, turn around and go by another route. By this time we were all covered in mud and turned up at the Chilean and Argentine borders looking complete messes. Strangely we had the easiest passages across any of the borders, they must have not wanted to clean up after us! By the time we got to the campsite it was very late and so we had a dinner of empanadas and cup-a-soup which was all people wanted before crawling into their tents for a well deserved rest.

From here it was a beach camp looking at the stars and a half day up to Puerto Madryn. This is where some Welsh came to settle in the hope of religious freedom. For us it was the National Park of the Valdes Peninsular that drew us. Here we did a day trip that took in beaches of sea lions, Magellenic penguins and elephant seals. The elephant seals are huge but we only saw female ones and the males are even bigger. It is also here that the killer whales take seal cubs from the beaches. Unfortunately we were a couple of weeks too early and did not see any of them although it was surprising to hear some people who didnīt like seeing insects harmed hoping to see a killer whale take a seal cub! Steph is leaving the truck at Buenos Airies and was very taken by one of the penguin chicks so as a leaving present Mike and I bought here a cuddly toy of a penguin which she named Valdes and spent the next 3 days cuddling.

The trip from here to Buenos Airies was pretty uneventful and the playing of twister, bingo and esky surfing only shows how bored people were. However, the group of people who stayed on the truck were those that tend to get along together so it was a good atmosphere.

Arriving at BA was good news as Iīd managed to bend my glasses by rolling over one night and crushing them to add to the scratches on both lenses and this was the first chance to replace them. In a lesson to British opticians this was achieved in a purchase lasting 20 minutes and in very broken Spanish on my side for the grand sum of 220 pesos or about 45 pounds. Also on arrival we learnt that the plan to travel up the River Plate and cross in to Uruguay at Fray Bentos before going down to Colonia and Montevideo has had to be changed. The Uruguans are planning to build 2 paper mills near Fray Bentos and the Argentinians donīt like it and they are protesting by shutting the bridge. Consequently the truck is going to stay in BA and we can go to Uruguay under our own steam. This means that about 10 of us are going to take the ferry to Colonia, a bus to Montevideo and then the ferry back from Montevideo. It is a pain but means that we can get to see a bit of Uruguay.

Jen, Steph and myself went for a walk starting at the Evita museum, moving onto the Japanese garden and then onto Recolleta to see the grave. The museum was quite interesting although maybe a little one sided on what they showed of her life and her work in being very pro everything she did. The Japanese garden had the biggest Koi I have ever seen, about 18 inches long and a girth of about a foot. However it was not the usual place of calm and tranquility as it is next to a very busy road and they were working on the pond using pneumatic drills. When we got to the cemetery we had a bit of a problem in that it was about to shut and they wouldnīt let us in! From here Jen and Steph went back to the hostel and I went to pick up the ferry tickets and get my new specs. It felt very strange to have glasses that were level across my eyes! It also allowed me to see that BA is a very nice city. It has a very Western European feel with the South American traffic and driving. However, when you look a bit closer you can see that there are a lot of people here who are struggling to support their families and it shows that the country is still struggling to come out of the economic slump that it experienced.

With the change in plan viz Uruguay, Jen and I have agreed to travel across to Colonia on Friday, spend the afternoon there with Kev and take a bus to Montevideo to meet up with everyone else going over and hopefully watch the 6 nations in Montevideo (Jen is a mad Scottish fan but arenīt they all?) before going back to BA on the Monday morning. This should allow time to look over Montevideo and allow us to see Evitaīs tomb and visit La Boca area in BA as well. This is a far bigger plan that is normal when visiting a city but weīre going to give it a try.
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