When in Tandil, a place South East of Buenos Aires, we
Were invited to come along to a gathering of gauchos who would take part in a yearly parade, showing off their horses and attire, very much in the way we had seen in the museum/silversmith in San Antonio the Areco. It was a hot day and entering the place our attention was caught by the quantity of beef and wors that was being braaied for lunch. Not your “big” South African set-up, but much and much bigger in scale. We had seen chicken being braaied in another place on a bed, about 1,5x 2,5 meter with glowing coal underneath, so we were prepared to look at our South African way as not the ultimate way in braaing. But this was BIG.
Anyway, we were presented by an unforgettable display of horses, riders and silverware that went on for hours and ended with us choosing a place to have some of that roasted beef. It was a splendid day, marred only by the news that we had to wait another week before we could expect the ATM card from SA to arrive. All in all it was
going to take a month for a small package to get from SA to our address in Argentina. Blast EMS (Express Mail Service, jawel!)
We are nearing the end of our stay in Argentina, planning to go north into Bolivia on Sunday, the 23rd of May. Our visa for Argentina expires the day after. But there were very interesting experiences on the way here. One of those experiences, although not pleasant, was a tyre that blew a few km out of Tandil. It was a right front tyre and we were driving at 120 km/h, so we were lucky to get off scot-free. (Traffic here keeps to the right of the road, so we could have easily ended up in the ditch alongside.) And our spare-wheel was in good condition, so the damage was merely a solution that we needed a set of 4 new tyres. We now have Bridgestone Dueler A/S tyres that we could not get in South Africa, but that will be needed here to cover the endless gravel roads that await us in Bolivia, Chili and the rest of the countries we are about to visit.
We visited musea with dinosaur remnants some 100 mil
years old, a dig of dinosaur bones (imagine a hipbone higher than a man!), dinosaur footprints left in rock all that time ago and a museum where they exhibited mummified people in a remarkable good condition. A man of about twenty to twenty-five years, who was buried in a sitting position some five hundred years ago and whose flesh was still, in whatever form, filling his body, exhibited in a glass fridge to preserve him a few years longer, was one of the most remarkable things I ever saw.
We went further west to very close to the Chilean border, high up in the mountains and staying in a hotel, surrounded by a “pre-historic” type of trees which had no leaves in the common sense but green “leaves” directly planted into the branches. They (the branches) looked like cat-tails. In that same area Ann wanted to have a look at a waterfall. She seems to have a thing about waterfalls, which for me are just places where water falls. You see that every time you fill a bath tub. We also saw gauchos at work, in contrast to gauchos on their Sundays taking part in a parade. Dusty, exhausting work,
if you ask me. We drove over endless (good) roads that continue like a straight line for hundreds of kilometers, through the Pampas, that immense flat grassland, sometimes covered with shrubs that is home for these gauchos and their herds of cows, horses and/or goats.
We camped a lot, sometimes in conditions which were decidedly unpleasant, cold with no hot showers, for instance. But our bedding equipment proved to be more than adequate, although having to get up in the morning to make coffee and have breakfast (toast of course, sometimes with a fried egg), could be a rather chilly experience! There is NO bacon in Argentina’s shops like Carrefour, for instance. A real unpleasant surprise! And the people have their supper here at or after 9 pm, something that we can not get accustomed to.
But the consumption of “tostado’s”, flinterthin slices of bread with a slice of cheese and ham in between and toasted in specially designed toasters, is widespread, throughout the country. YPF, a company that, like Shell or Esso has filling stations everywhere, also has small shops where sweets, drinks and sandwiches can be bought and consumed. Clean toilets, sometimes even showers, are also part of
their facilities. Very handy!
Another thing I had never given any thought about is the fact that our car, the Toyota Condor was not produced after 2004 and is virtually unknown in this country. That may become a problem if we need new parts, something I was made aware of when trying to buy new brake-pads. The Toyota dealer here was unable to help me, even after they took off the wheel to see if a match could be found in their parts department.
Fortunately they can be copied with the help of the old pads, so there is no real problem here yet.
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