A desert (puna) vignette – life out here

A vignette from the past few days:

Coffee by a thorn tree

The hot oven-dry wind plasters my shirt to my shoulders as I sit in the sparse freckled shade of a lone thorn tree watching the mercury-silver shimmer of the road twenty meters away.  On the other side of the gravel is a cinderblock hut, roof of plastic sheeting held by logs and rocks, a small wooden door, more propped than hung, in the doorway. Behind the hut is the white-bleached sky the sand wash of a desiccated riverbed, and corral of twisted sticks. Continue reading “A desert (puna) vignette – life out here”

Mendoza and around (part 3)

Given my inability to keep track of what day it is, I miscalculated and set off for Mendoza a day early. Happily that gave us the luxury of (even more) time. As we were hungry, and as it was: nearly our last day for a while, nearly valentines and nearly three months on the road, I suggested spontaneous lunch at a vineyard. Happily the next one we passed was the award winning Septima Continue reading “Mendoza and around (part 3)”

Mendoza and around (part 2)

A handful of notes to bring us up to speed (now I have wifi)

The sign, after careful translation read:

In the event of seeing a puma:

  • Gather your children together
  • Shout and wave your arms
  • Do not run
  • Tell a ranger as soon as possible

It is with these wise words forefront of mind that I set off for a run to the observatory and back, at dusk. Continue reading “Mendoza and around (part 2)”

Trekking in Bariloche – a visual account

On Wednesday we set of on a three day trek in the Andes. By the end of the day Friday we had trekked 40+ km, ascended a total of 1400m, celebrated Andy’s 39th in the Andes and toasted the three month anniversary of our sabbatical.

If you want the technical details of our trek have a look here. What follows is an account of our journey through photos. (To balance to lack of images in the last post. Click on the images for captions.)

Feeling like a tourist – a walk in La Boca, Buenos Aires

Taxi or walk? its a 30 minute stroll to La Boca, down by the port.

Well we want to get there with good photographic light so lets jump in a taxi. Hail one down, La Boca pro favor. Dos cientos. Be a good spot and flick the metre on. No. Dos cientos.

It is relevant to point out at this point that we look like quintessential tourists. Carrying back pack at the front, clutching a guide book and clearly not speaking the language. This is relevant because we were about to find ourselves in the back streets of one of BA’s most notoriously crime ridden barrios.

Continue reading “Feeling like a tourist – a walk in La Boca, Buenos Aires”

The quest for The Key

A retelling, somewhat curtailed, of Joseph Campbell’s mono myth. The face of this hero is less bearded than those of his myths.

I am sitting in a hostel room in Buenos Aires with no money, no food and only one key that starts the van. My aim is to solve all these problems in the next few hours, fears of being in a remote Andean village, hung-over trying to hot wire an immobilized 4×4 after a heavy night on local firewater leaves us with no key, pushes me to procure a back-up now… The me of the future will thank the me of now I am sure.

Continue reading “The quest for The Key”

Why do you wear shorts in bed when you’re in the van…

D: Why do you wear shorts in bed when you’re in the van?

A: Guess you never know what’ll  happen and it’s an advantage to not be naked when you have the step outside.

D: Oh.

A: Goodnight.

A: Goodnight.

Silence, wind, silence.

Spit of gravel and engine rumble. Another truck pulling in for the night. Quite close. Very close.

Thump, smash, grind. We shunt forward a few feet off the parking into the bushes. For fucks sake! Fumble for tent zip in the darkness.

Legs out and jump down to ground. Not naked.

Maybe because we’re a dark green van in the dimly lit corner of the truck stop, maybe because the driver had been driving 49 hours with nothing but  mate to keep him awake. Either way, once again our van is smashed, this time more seriously.

Police are called, statements given, ID and paperwork. Gaffertape a temp cover over broken window. Look at each other, shrug and climb back into tent.

Silence, wind. The spit of gravel and rumble of engine, close, very close.

D: You know, maybe we should move to some where brighter. 

A: Yeh.

Climb back out, drive to other end of park. Reset ladder, back to bed.

The wind blows harder in this less sheltered spot, the dogs bark. I spend 6 hours ‘waiting’.

And now it’s now and we are grabbing coffee in the service station before going to see the police (again), find a mechanic/body shop, convince the Chilean insurers we are good people, and fix our shit.

Travel yeh,  character building.