We’re making our way south, through the middle of Argentina. It’s surprisingly flat and dry, and HOT! While Adelaide and the eastern states are copping rain, we’ve been having fine days with the temperature climbing to 40c by late afternoon. Sunset is just before 10pm here. There’s about 900kms more of Routa 40 in Argentina before we cross back into Chile for a while.
Chile’s customs laws are as strict as Australia’s – no animal or vegetable products allowed across the border, so we’re planning our meals – sort of – to make sure we don’t end up with a heap of food we have to throw out. Some things in Argentina are incredibly expensive. Those folding chairs that we can buy for $6 or 7 at Big W or Kmart at home are as scarce as hens’ teeth here … because they cost around $50! Most people use those 1960s folding chairs with the woven striped straps. My parents still have some. And Greg checked out the price of a jerrycan, thinking that we could fill it and use it in case of emergencies …. $87 !!! Um, no.
There aren’t many towns on Routa 40, and we were warned when we collected the van that we would need to fill up with petrol whenever we could, partly because of the distance between places, but also because even if there is a servo, it might not have any fuel! We lobbed into a little town with one service station and an enormous queue of cars, trucks, vans. We stopped and did some quick sums and worked out that we probably had enough fuel to get to the next town – we’re getting around 10L to 100kms, with a 40-45L fuel tank. So we headed out of town, then must both have had second thoughts at the same time … so turned around and joined the queue. It actually moved fairly quickly, took us about 40 minutes to fill the tank and be on our way.
We’ve been doing some ‘free camping’ and paying for some camping at campgrounds. The paid-for camping has been generally disappointing – $25 per night for a patch of dirt and very basic amenities. At the place we stayed at a couple of nights ago, only one of the 3 toilets in the women’s bathroom had a toilet seat … and no toilet paper. But that’s standard. I’ve learnt to carry a roll of loo paper in my handbag.
Last night we ‘free-camped’ beside the Rio Mayo. It’s a popular local swimming place, but by sunset everyone had gone home and we had the river to ourselves.