The land before time

Trip Start Apr 17, 2006
Trip End Jun 14, 2006

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Friday, April 28, 2006

Trying saying that out loud. You´ll find it harder than it looks.

Well, if I´d thought Encon was bad, the next town on my map, La Tranca, was worse. Wait for it - three houses. You think I´m exaggerating. It was three houses. Now, my map is on a scale of one in TWO MILLION. That´s not a very detailed map, for those of you unfamiliar with the concept of scale. It does the whole of Argentina, and Argentina´s a big country. Does anyone reading this agree with the map makers that a town consisting of THREE HOUSES - count them: one, two three - deserves inclusion on a map that covers HALF A CONTINENT? No, of course not. I asked the policeman at the provincial border post where the nearest shops were. "San Luis" he answered - the provincial capital, at least three days ride away. Oh dear.

So I was looking forward with cautious expectation to the Parque Nacional Sier- to the national park, not least because when the Park Ranger at that little reserve in the desert had been telling me about it, he kept mentioning maquinas, which literally means "machines" and is the word they use in these parts for computers. Now, I was highly sceptical as to the chances of there being a high-speed internet kiosk in the midst of a national park, especially having passed through a "town" that didn´t have a single shop to its name, but I let the hope linger, as by this stage I had done quite enough being in the middle of nowhere and a little internet sesh would´ve gone down very nicely indeed. Now, as I approached the park along the road, I came upon some roadworks, and then passed a sign - precaucion - maquinas. Ah. That made more sense.

But who needs computers when you´ve got scenery like this? I mean, you can´t call this scenery - scenery is what you get on picture-postcards with lambs drinking from tranquil streams or stage backdrops at the school nativity play. No no, this was much, much bigger than that - this was dino scenery, positively Jurassic in its splendour. When walking around it felt like you were wearing 3D glasses - massive, red hills of rock enclosing a vast flat plain. I might even go so far as to say that it was worth nearly dying of thirst in the desert for.

Most useful Spanish word learnt: 'Maquina', computer and/or roadworks
Beard status: can it be? Can that be a fleck of ginger?
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Argento on

Correct. You were on a worldwide important dinossaur finding place.

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