Adios to La Cuarenta

We’ve finally left Route 40 ‘La Cuarenta’, having travelled along¬† it for over 2000kms. We have just reached its beginning, or its end, at Rio Gallegos on the east coast. Now we’ll head south along Route 3 to Ushuaia, which is about 530kms away. We have to cross back into Chile for 100kms or so, then back into Argentina to get to Ushuaia. The borders are … interesting – take a look at a map of the area and see for yourself. It’s just not possible to drive there without crossing into Chile. So we have 4 more border crossings in our immediate future.

We’ve spent the last 3 nights camping in the wild in various places, ranging from a gorgeous spot beside the Rio Mayo to a bit behind a slight rise on an access road for construction trucks building a new road to the east of Tres Lagos. It was sheltered, quiet and not far from the only petrol station for 150kms …. and by then we really, really needed fuel.

So the morning after our access road camp, we headed up the road, through Tres Lagos and up Route 40 to the servo, only to discover that he had no fuel. Shit. He’d run out 3 days earlier and didn’t know when he’d get more in. Shit, shit, shit, please excuse my French. We had less than a quarter of a tank, which wasn’t enough to get us to the nearest servo after that. A guy in a big Winnebago-type camper was there waiting, with his little white dog. I think he’d been camped there for a while. I felt very sorry for the service station owner – we’d read about other people having similar problems there – how was he supposed to make a living if his fuel supply was so erratic? Anyway, we drove back into the village and parked a street back from the main street to have a think about what to do. Well, Greg had a think, I went for a walk along the main street, where I discovered that the only shop was closed for the day, the police were working on their front garden and the 2 hostels both had people staying there. When I got back to the car, Greg had worked out that the van’s fuel tank held 55L, so we just might have had almost 10L, which just might have been enough to at least get us to the turn-off to the next town that had fuel, and he’d decided that we’d go back to the servo to see if we could buy a jerry-can.

Somehow, that was the magic word. The guy at the servo didn’t have a jerry-can to sell us, but he told us about someone back in the village who would sell us some petrol. We just had to go to the police and ask them. They were still gardening when we got there, but very helpfully gave us directions to a guy who was located one street back from the main street …. right next door to the vacant lot we had parked on earlier! He siphoned 10L of fuel from one of his 44gallon drums that Greg had noticed earlier, poured it into our van, we paid him twice the going rate, gave the cops the ‘thumbs-up’ sign as we went past them, and drove slowly and carefully to El Calafate. Phew! We now have a jerry-can with an emergency 10 litres in it, and a full tank of gasolina.

It was one of those days where we just sat back at the end of the day and said ‘well, that was interesting, wasn’t it?’

It’s getting colder now, Greg has dragged out his long pants. And it’s windy, but then, we’re at almost 52 degrees south, and they don’t call the wind at this latitude the ‘Screaming 50s’ for nothing! We’re planning on staying at Rio Grande tonight, and Greg has just booked us an Airbnb place in Ushuaia for a few nights. The Wicked Camper is great – warm at night, sheltered from the wind when we stop during the day. Camping in a tent here would be …. difficult, and very, very windy!

The long open road of the Patagonia Steppe
The long open road of the Patagonian Steppe
Rhea by the side of the road. These are fairly common flightless birds in Patagonia like small Emus/Ostriches
Rhea by the side of the road. These are fairly common flightless birds in Patagonia like small Emus/Ostriches
guanaco a relative of the llama are everywhere in Patagonia. Signs warning us not to run into them, but they seem smarter than Kangaroos
guanaco a relative of the llama are everywhere in Patagonia. Signs warning us not to run into them, but they seem smarter than Kangaroos
Sitting in the back of our camper out of the relentless Patagonian wind
Sitting in the back of our camper out of the relentless Patagonian wind
Camped at some road works on a quiet side road out of Tres lagos
Camped at some road works on a quiet side road out of Tres lagos
Looking down at Lagos Argentina (lake) blue from Glacial till
Looking down at Lagos Argentina (lake) blue from Glacial milk
Camped in an old road quarry a little bit sheltered from the Patagonia wind
Camped in an old road quarry a little bit sheltered from the Patagonia wind

 

 

4 thoughts on “Adios to La Cuarenta

  1. We know how you feel about running short of fuel . We had the same while driving in Canada once . Coming from UK we don’t have to drive far to the next filling station . Not used to all these vast empty spaces. It’s was a frightening experience !!
    I am pleased you got to see some wild animals as the scenery doesn’t look too spectacular by your photo’s. ( not your usual views)
    Have a good weekend xx

    1. It’s a horrible experience, isn’t it? It almost happened to us in Botswana, but at least there we could have hitched a ride to and from the nearest petrol station. Here, there is very little traffic and it could have been a very long wait.
      You’re right about the scenery – I had imagined lots of snow-capped mountains, not hundreds of kilometres of flat plains. We got to Ushuaia yesterday afternoon and had to drive over a mountain pass that was spectacular. So I got my snow-capped mountains in the end. Hope you have a good weekend too xxx

  2. Blue sky and sunshine here at this time Judy . Could be a little cool outside so I shall be staying in with the heating on doing what I like doing best (Craft) and keeping my eye on your adventure . Have fun x

    1. We’re enjoying our short stay in Ushuaia. I’ve been watching the comings and goings down at the dock from our apartment window. 2 cruise ships and an Antarctic vessel were there yesterday, they all left at various times yesterday and now there’s a very handsome 3-masted sailing ship, like The Endeavour. Cloudy today, but there’s still some warmth in the sun. I haven’t had to get out the thermals yet! xxx

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