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Published: March 14th 2014
GAUCHOFACES OF PATAGONIA: When the best laid plans come unstuck if you find No Hay.
"Serendipity" is Travelblog's middle name.
Where wonderful things happen by accident...awesome finds when you are not looking for them...lucky to do so...quests leading to the delightfully unexpected.
Horace Walpole first penned the meaning in 1754 describing how princes in Serendip (Sri Lanka) were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of”.
So used correctly the use of the word requires the wisdom to make the connection that something great has happened by fortuitous occurrence.
So I got to thinking...in a Travelbloggy kinda way.
Is a change of plans brought about by an unforeseen event, maybe a disaster, that leads to missing your quest entirely, but you have a great time anyway...is that serendipity?
Having travelled from Cochrane
in Chile...over the border into Argentina through Paso Roballes
...through the wilderness of Parque Nacional Perito Merino
to Lago Posadas
...we kinda needed to fill up with petrol to proceed further south.
But there was a petrol strike in Argentina...and Lago Posadas in anyone's book is remote...so I guess we can't
Hitchhiker to El Maiten, Chile
complain that there was no petrol to be found in that isolated outpost.
We had the petrol container in the back...suggested by the Scot in Bariloche...but that's a last resort...and if that runs out...we're stuffed.
Ain't no busy highways out here...some days we see next to no one.
The hosteria in Lago Posadas assurred us there was petrol in Bajo Caracoles...only about 50 kms away...understood they'd checked to confirm.
So instead of continuing South...we headed North East...desperate to fill up.
Now heading to Bajo Caracoles had its upside.
One of the reasons I was so determined to find the Los Indios paintings at Lago Posadas risking matrimonial discord (see last blog) was we had missed out seeing the famous Los Indios Cave of Hands (Cueva de los Manos
- over 800 paintings of human hands) accessible from Los Antiguous, that are also 47 kms east of Bajo Caracoles.
We had met Ronnie & Zina in shared serendipity at Rio Maya and gave them digs at Los Antiguous and preferred to spend our time with them rather than do our planned day trip to Cueva de
ZINA & RONNIE
Took our spare room at Los Antiguos
Now as we were heading back that way, would we be able to include Cueva de los Manos?
If so, would that qualify as serendipity?
So we hit the dirt and headed roughly north.
We were still in Parque Nacional Perito Merino
so the road wound here and there...through clay pans...through saltbush expances...around extruded weathered domes...along narrow tracks...through arid steppe. Then suddenly we came to a fork in the road
...a fork in the track really as it was just wide enough for our 4WD.
And in the middle of the fork was a skinny pole with a choice of names for the left or right.
No problem thought I.
I've come prepared. I've brought maps of South America and Patagonia from Oz so should be easy...4 maps as it turned out.
Looked at the first map. None of those names on there.
Looked at the second map. None of those names on there.
Looked at the third map. None of those names on there...now I'm getting worried.
Looked at the fourth map.
One of the names was there...like 100s of miles
Estancia La Siberia
"OK. Turn right!"
Crossing a long section of flat steppe...low bushes like a woolly carpet...single flat topped butte ahead...then up, over and around it...flat again...sign for Bajo Caracoles
...another lonely outpost...more like a truck stop.
Excellent...there's a petrol station...couple of vehicles...two petrol pumps...sidle up.
Signs on each pump "NO HAY".
What? No feed for horses? No...No feed for automobiles...NO PETROL.
Inside they were pretty relaxed about it...assurred us there was petrol at Grobenador Gregores to the south...requiring a substantial detour off Ruta 40 into Central Argentina.
Oh well. That settles that.
No way we can risk a stopover at Cueva de los Manos.
Only thing on our minds was getting petrol.
If we can get petrol, we'll try and get back onto Ruta 40 and see if we can score a bed at Estancia La Siberia...about 250 kms away.
Its times like these you just grit your teeth and get on with it.
No point in moping...kinda like the challenges adversity brings.
As we followed Ruta 40 it started to rain...dirt pebbly road...puddles spraying muddy water over the car and
windscreen...encouraging Denise to get the most splash while I tried to photograph the effect.
Then we ran out of petrol.
It was just before a sign to Tuca Tuca...showing the LHT to Grobenador Gregores coming up...guess that makes it about 125 kms to the petrol stop.
At least its stopped raining.
Boy oh boy am I glad we scored the petrol container at El Bolson...and Denise's tango scored some plastic hose.
Not looking forward to the mouthful of petrol as I suck the hose to create a flow...but someone's gotta do it...that gag when petrol spurts to the back of my throat...gotcha.
Emptied the petrol into the car as best I could...quite a satisfying feeling that the container was quite large...should get us there.
By the time we got to Grobenador Gregores
it was raining heavily...water courses were filling up...and we hit bitumen as we approached the town gate.
This was the largest town we'd seen in ages so pretty confident we were now back on track.
Filled up at the servo...young guy at the bowser...only got Fanggio grade available...that's the Premium Super...no problem...relieved you can help at all.
"Please fill up
this spare container and we'll be on our way."
"Sorry...I'm not allowed to do that...we don't have enough petrol...the boss says I can not."
Denise...time for another tango...we need the spare petrol!!!
Gracias many times...you are a saviour...don't worry we won't tell your boss...gracias.
To get back on track we took a hypotenuse on Ruta 29 for 65 kms to reach Ruta 40 north of Lago Galadriel...no cars seen at all on Ruta 29...eery but so Patagonia...alone in the expance.
The road was wet and slippery and the 4WD covered with mud.
Reached Estancia La Siberia at 5.30pm...an estancia selling diesel, food and accommodation.
Two gringos that had been at Lago Posadas whose car was stuffed...been receiving mechanical assistance for two hours...future travels bleak.
Our hosts were two senoras Julia and Maria Angelika...who loved to make cakes...cakes piling up on the counter as others on the go.
Kinda weird as the cakes seemed to dry out on cooling which made me wonder why they didn't do anything to keep them fresh.
And when the guests or visitors in a day were few...who ate the cakes?
SQUEALED WHEN I PLAYED BUDDY GUY
Hitchhikers to Glacier Perito Merino
Our room was spacious but draughty...icy breezes probably from the lake just there...so I went for my Gore-tex outer shell...protected me in minus 20C in China...first time I needed it in South America.
Gotta be kidding...first NO HAY...now NO GORE-TEX!!!
Heading into glacier country...that's all I need.
Never did find it...cost about $600 to $800 to replace it!!!
The lake was littered with white coated round stones...pink Chilean flamingoes aplenty...guess it's alkaline...the icy wind skipping over the water cutting into my flesh.
Dinner at 8pm...we the only guests...entre, mains, coffee...and lots of slices of cake.
So the ladies introduced us to Spanish soapies...lots of laughs...lots of drama...lots of crying...lots of fun.
Its been raining steadily tonight so our drive to El Chaltern tomorrow may be hazardous...hope not.
The next morning two motor blkers from Uruguay turned up and had breakfast with us...always fun to meet others from the road.
But where is Denise?
Found her baled up in the 4WD...two guanacoses at the vehicle windows like the T-Rex and raptors in Jurassic Park...pretty funny to watch...nipping my neck as I tried to get her out
Gotta love Patagonia...surprises aplenty.
Or is it more like serendipity?
Yep...serendipity at every turn.
Relax & Enjoy,
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