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Published: February 28th 2014
PATAGONIA: The F*ckido Stupido...The World's Stupidest Man.
I've been called many names in my life.
But when my one true love is spitting & cursing at me with wrath and indignation...that only makes my smile broader...Am I lacking intelligence?
Or is there one hell of a surprise hidden under my manic grin?
After a couple of days driving in the most spectacular locales of our trip to date...in and out of mountain passes between Chile and Argentina...rarely visited regions of the wildest and most remote wilderness areas of Patagonia...4WD heaven...photographer's heaven...rocking to the best rock & blues on the planet...leading my love to just one more highlight...and then she loses it like never before.
What's a fella gotta do to give a gal a good time?
No one can say I'm not trying!!!
***** Chile Chico
Leaving Los Antiguos to enter Chile at Chile Chico...the border only 6 kms away.
The plan is to see Cerro San Lorenzo...South America's second highest mountain...then re-enter Argentina through Paso Roballes.
Ronnie suggests we then explore the wilderness Parque Nacional Perito Merino...not to be confused
with Perito Merino Glacier near El Calafate that is a long way south of where we are going.
Suggests after we re-enter through Paso Roballes, we head south through Parque Nacional Perito Merino to Lago Posadas as it's about the only place we can score a bed in them parts. Parque Nacional Perito Merino...the guidebooks say there is no transport into this park...most is inaccessible.
Laughing...we have a 4WD!!!
The word is be careful of falling rocks as the mountain passes can be treacherous in bad weather or fine.
Scored petrol and joined Ronnie & Zina at the border...waved goodbye as they were not allowed through...requiring more papers from B.A.
Other vehicles were searched...but not ours.
The scenery immediately changed from turquoise Lago Buenos Aires at Los Antiguos (nowhere near Buenos Aires) to creamy caramel swirls of peaked mountains with a big blue sign welcoming "Bienvenido a Chile".
Entering the town of Chile Chico was a triumph...there was the boat from the internet named "Andes" perched in the main street with the Chilean flag proclaiming we are here.
We then hit dirt road for the next
200 kms...and what a road...took our breath away...about 7 hours of ecstacy.
Denise drove the lot...absolutely loved it.
I was busy too.
I was busy photographing and changing the CDs...yeh...someone's gotta do it...both busy doing what we do best.
Crater lakes...either from cliff tops or perched like bird nests with turquoise centres...massive light blue and cerulean lakes with podgy islands and white tipped mountains behind...dark clouds above...precipitous climbs on narrow mountain roads...cliffs one side...falling rocks the other...wild rivers racing from jagged mountains...snaking silver estuaries...beauty to behold...exquisite to encounter.
Stopped at a kiosk in the middle of nowhere. Went in for ice creams…saw some bananas...US$12 she said...squashed in my hand as they were so rotten...dropped them in shock and exploded on the floor...put me off the icecreams...I think we'd better go!
A family and a guy with a backpack begging for a lift outside...picked the guy as he could fit in the back with his pack next to him...an Israeli named Adam...a Salsa teacher...very handsome...great company…great salsa!
Dropped him off at El Maiten...way down there by the lake...then through Tolkien forests to Rio Baker...a wild vivid blue river cutting swathes
through the mountains..."Sin Ristatis"..."No Dams" signs everywhere.
Plans to dam the Rio Baker for hydro electricity which is a big political issue.
Tempted to stay in some cabins by the racing river, but it was raining, so to Cochrane we go arriving at 7pm...looking for hotels from Ronnie's tips...but couldn't find any. Cochrane
All we could find were an assortment of old demountable cabins that he wanted for US$50 per night...you have to be joking...these are crappy...OK $40 then...reluctant...OK agreed.
The owner led us to a restaurant Nirrantal...only one open it seems...salmon, icecream, cherries, beer and wine for US$46 was excessive but nice.
Quickly learnt that Chile was much more expensive than Argentina...confirmed many times.
Met a German couple Gunther & Annika who taught at the German school in Peru, on holidays with their young sons.
A large group of American trekkers came in with their driver & guide...large table of lifeless souls.
So we partied with Gunther & Annika...swapping stories from the road...our two tables far rowdier than the other.
Told them of my encounter when I was locked up at LAX (see BLOG LONG WAY TO PATAGONIA...Battling Homeland Security with a necrotic leg
)...Gunther's stories of
similar brushes...one mate of his locked up for 6 months...both incredulous US allies would be treated so...pretty funny stories when told well though.
Made it clear he had no desire to visit the USA…wouldn't risk it he said.
The Americans file out...we conscious they would have heard us...sideways looks...we still nattering...their guide hanging back.
When they were out the Chilean guide came over..."I heard what you were saying" he said..."I agree with every word".
Reputations of the World Police are hard to shake it seems.
Following day lined up in the bank for US$50 lunch & petrol money. Spent the lot on meagre rations…had to line up in the bank again for another US$50 for petrol…at least in Argentina petrol prices were subsidised making it much cheaper there.
Met another German couple in the grocery store…friends of Gunther & Annika…met them again weeks later in the most unlikely place…it's indeed a small world!
Headed off to Cerro San Fernando as clouds swirling overhead…no way we'll get a good view today…bummer…turned back with the mountain shrouded in cloud…c'est la vie!
But good things happen to those that wait…in our
case those that don't wait…so we headed back towards the border.
***** From Chile to Argentina through Paso Roballes
Possibly my favourite road in the world…if not I can't think of one that I've enjoyed more…certainly the most diverse.
Directions in Spanish from Cochrane that were accurate…"to the end left, to the end right, follow 18kms, right"…hope this is it…entered narrow dirt track at the sign to "E. Baker".
Picnic next to the Rio Cochrane…then followed the road through lush alpine meadows…mountain peaks…past alpine lakes…guanacos' grazing…more mountains…lusher meadows…only a motorbike passing...the road ever snaking forward…stunning.
After about 95 kms of lush alpine vistas arrived at Paso Roballes Chilean checkpoint where some Brazilians said about 90 mins to Lago Posadas.
Then we entered No Man's Land…that strip of miles before the Argentinian checkpoint…inferring these countries may not get on.
Like entering a New World…a new dimension maybe…totally different scenery…entering arid steppe.
It's as if the rain hose gets turned off when you hit the western slopes of the Andes…lush green one side…dry brown the other…like going through a curtain the change was so pronounced.
cones…desert buttes…rheas darting out of saltbush shrubs…road meandering up and around…then disappearing in a dry clay pan…resuming in gravel the other side…rocky bluffs with ochre shades bearded by stubble in drab greens and browns.
Suddenly a turquoise lake guarded by ochre cliffs…then disappearing like a mirage has visited.
There is something about desert type vistas that excites me…maybe it's the colours…the solitude…the subtle nuances of yellow, khaki and brown.
Whatever it is, this road will remain with me always…Denise driving…me photographing…enjoying the sound of wheels on dirt as too rough to play music…magic road…etching my soul.
This wilderness my favourite National Park yet…rarely visited as it's off the main drag…
Parque Nacional Perito Merino...Argentina's best kept secret.
***** Lago Posadas
We start to head down from the mountains…a blotchy line of cliffs in the distance…another lake in the arid steppe coming up…Lago Posadas.
Weird as it is…we never saw the lake...though there is one.
The township was a village at best…supposed to be an oasis…but as arid and dry as you can get…with a long line of blotchy cliffs in the distance behind.
Denise was stuffed…been driving all day…on dirt roads and tracks that were
mesmerising but challenging.
Picked a standard room as they were better than the superior rooms…that's a first…Denise ready to flake.
Then...I saw it.
***** The World's Stupidest Man
I saw a brochure in our room with some pictures of 3,800 year old Los Indios ancient cave paintings.
Asked where they were.
The girl pointed to a very large red rock among cliffs in the distance…"4 km drive…1 km walk"…sounds do-able…must leave right now…don't want to get caught out there in the dark.
Gotta admit Denise was not keen.
It was 7.30 p.m…she was exhausted…I was excited…and as usual persuasive…"It's just over there…don't want to miss out."
Dragged her bod and I did the driving.
Found a sign that was similar to the word for cave…gotta be this way…but the track led to the local rubbish tip…here's a track that's heading in the right direction…lucky we have a 4WD!
The track ended among bluey green rocks of a creek…guess we walk from here…Den apprehensive but following…scrambling over boulders…through arid scrub…heading towards the cliff faces.
"This is a needle in a haystack" she complaining…"This
4 Km DRIVE...1 Km WALK
Like finding a needle in a haystack...Looks do-able
is stupid…let's go back?"
But I was determined…my quest in sight…never know if we can find it…if we don't we try.
I got to the cliff face…alone…Denise refusing to go on.
Got to the large red rock cliff…looks grey...yikes…no signs to guide…gotta be lucky to pull this off…where on earth could they be?
Are we even near the right place???
Up a steep slope...Crack in the rock.
Sudden rush of blood to the head…teeth clamping…rushing breath…heart pounding…muscles tightening…
Faded paintings of buffaloes on the rock face…each about 15 cms tall.
Talk about lucky…I've found it…pretty relieved I must say!!!
Gotta video this…Denise will be pleased.
But Denise was NOT pleased…anything but.
"Denise…where are you? Come up here." "You are the world's stupidest man. I told you I am tired…we'll get caught in the dark...and I'm not going further"
as she emerged from the scrub.
"Just a little further. Come up here."
She approaching..."I am in no mood to search for a needle in a haystack"...
"David…video this" she demanded.
"You are a F*uckido Stupido…You are a F*ckido Stupido…Video that..You
FINDING MY PRIZE
Los Indios buffaloes
are a F*uckido Stupido."
Me laughing so hard it was hard to hold the video steady.
"Come on…climb up here…It'll be worth it."
Wave of my hand indicating my prize…"I've found it!!!"
Triumph was all over my face…Alice's Cheshire Cat not approaching my delight.
Found various paintings of buffaloes, hands, arrow heads, circles, rectangular tablets, stick figures…very few clear but amazing I found them at all.
But where is the car?
Sea of scrub and rock as far as we could see. The car .in there somewhere.
Reminded me of the time I climbed Mt Jagungel with two mates as a school kid…left our packs at the base…no idea at the top where our packs were.
That time I had taken a compass reading before we climbed and backtracking walked into the packs.
This time no compass but found the creek and of course the car.
Twice in one day...No one can say I don't know how to give a girl a good time.
A true David Hoo Tours moment…"Your Travel Experts with Minimum Experience but Maximum Optimism"…pulled off the impossible.
Over dinner…a roast with a special bottle of wine…chatting to our hosts…a funky couple…one an
Who says I don't know how to give a gal a good time?
Amazing collection of Los Indios arrowheads…all our questions answered.
The light blue rocks are iron oxide. The polished boulders near the paintings are dolomite that were polished when the area had been submerged under a lake.
The paintings are up to 3,800 years old and were painted before and after the water levels were covering the base of the cliffs.
The high water levels of the lake put a protective chemical coating on the earlier paintings, thus preserving them for posterity.
How lucky were we to have found them?
Very lucky it seems."
"We are amazed you found them"…they said…"Many try but most come back empty handed."
I smiled…that smile of someone who knew what they were talking about.
Relax & Enjoy,
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