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Update: Buenos Aires, Argentina (2/27/2012)

posted Oct 24, 2012, 7:32 AM by Matthew Gorzlancyk

HITCHING TO BUENOS AIRES

            It was my first time ever doing a planned hitchhiking trip in my life. I had had plenty of offers leading up to this point, and had even taken some rides from people while I was planning or doing some touristic activities and had a place to leave my bike, but this was really the beginning of a big adventure.  It would end up lasting the full 7 days I had allotted for myself, and cover a distance of over 2,300 kilometers!!!! I would first have to find my way across the border to Argentina and make it about 500 kilometers to Comodoro Rivadavia on the coast (or near there) and then find a trucker or somebody to take me North about 1,800 kilometers to Buenos Aires!

            I left Villa Manihuales and the Casa Ciclista with 7 days until my girlfriend Gaby’s arrival date, the 27th of February. I figured this would be more than enough for I would probably walk a little to keep loose on the Chilean side, then just stick to truck stops on the path up to Buenos Aires. I ended up scoring my first ride after walking toward Coihaique for about 3 hours from Villa Manihuales. A farmer in a little truck picked me up and let me sit in the box all the way into Coihaique. From there I bought some food, talked to some people about the pass into Argentina, and found I was in for a bigger challenge than I had originally planned.

            While I was in this region there were a number of public upheavals related to pay, living expenses, and energy costs in Chilean’s Aysen region. It turned out that the long haul Chilean truckers had been striking for some time and it looked like they would not be back carrying goods for a while. This was good news, for the people were standing up for themselves and speaking out against a structure that was really making their lives quite difficult, but the timing was not so good for me, or the schedule I was looking to keep. The truckers were actually blocking foreign trucks and buses from reaching the border crossing or entering to Coihaique. I didn’t even have the option to book a bus to pass the barricade. I would have to hitch with a family, or walk past it.

            Well, I didn’t have any luck grabbing a ride, so I ended up walking another 3 hours on the day. I passed the barricade, the guys told me they had been there for some time and were not going to be moving, so I really had to hope for a nice family! Also, to make things a little worse, as one leaves Coihaique, the terrain becomes much drier and it is not as easy to come across water as you near Argentina as it is in the Chilean side of Patagonia. I would be taking a little risk walking to the border. I pondered over this after I met a nice farmer who I asked to stay with just past the barricade. He gave me a place for my tent, and then invited me for some food and wine before I went to sleep. I would at least be leaving the next morning with a good dinner in my stomach and a good night of sleep.

            I awoke to a feast of a breakfast and a very warm goodbye from the gentleman who gave me a place to stay. I left ready to battle the distance toward the pass. As usual, I ended up luckier than I imagined possible (things always have seemed to somehow work out for me on this trip). I met a farmer who drove me for about 20 minutes closer to the pass, then only 30 minutes later I had met a couple from Comodoro Rivadavia who ended up offering to take me all the way there! I had only been walking and looking for an hour or so before I was en route for the coast of Argentina, and this was only my second day!!!

            Well, we made it to Comodoro, the couple dropped me off by a hostel, and we parted ways. It was a beautiful evening, so when I found out the hotel charged something like twenty dollars per night I decided to keep moving toward where I might find a truck the next day. I made it a few kilometers and then met a cool gas station attendant at an YPF who let me sleep behind the station (which was even fenced-in, had internet, and a place for me to plug-in right next to my tent!!!). I enjoyed the comfortable accommodations, slept like a baby, and made my plan to head toward the Truck stop the next morning.

            When I awoke I met a young 26 year-old guy who offered to take me all the way to Buenos Aires. He was a sketchy sort, but I figured I just wanted to get moving. We left that evening, pounding hierba mate and him the gas pedal. He took me for two days and eventually I lost him in Pedro Luro, Argentina, after traveling about 1,000 kilometers together. I am pretty sure he found a girl hitching on the road when he went to load his onions at this little one-horse town.  I was pretty bummed he did not keep his word, but the kind of guy who thinks it is funny to ride the bumper of a family in a mini-van when they are driving a semi truck does not strike me as that trustworthy or solid of a guy. Unfortunately for me, the only truckers that were stopping here were loading onions, and because of rain (trucks could not enter the fields because they would get stuck) and festivals (the guys who normally would bag and load the onions took off for the holidays and were drinking instead), there were barely any trucks being loaded for the next two days…

            I spent the first night alone without really talking to anybody at the truck stop for I had thought I had a ride with the 26 year-old loco. As I said, the guy never came back, so I put up my tent next to the gas station and relaxed hoping the next day would bring better things, for the night was not bringing anything but millions of birds in the trees above me squawking endlessly…

            When I awoke I talked with an older gentleman who also had been hitching from Southern Argentina and was headed toward Missiones, North of Buenos Aires. He told me we would find something and that he would help me. We hung out all day talking to drivers, using Internet, and just sitting around. This day did not bring anything. It really just turned out to be a rainy, gray, and lonely day. He had slept in the bathroom the night before so I offered him my tent and I slept under a picnic table that night. We both fell asleep a little nervous that we could be stuck in Pedro Luro for a while.

            The dude got up and was moving around making a bunch of noise as the sun peeked over the semi trucks in the lot. I realized that the picnic table and trees had not worked quite as well as I had hoped, for my sleeping bag was soaked through (not that cool when it is filled with down). I am not sure how I slept so deep, with the rain and the birds, but somehow I guess I was used to sleeping really anywhere. He told me he was going to get out and get talking with the drivers and be back soon. I picked up my things hoping we were somehow going to get closer to Buenos Aires soon.

            Well, he had luck. He met a couple of guys he had met before and they told us that though they would be stuck this day as well, they could take us the next day. They asked us where we had slept and then after hanging a while they invited us to hang out in Carlos’ trailer to eat with them and sleep inside the trailer as well! It actually turned out to be an awesome day. We ate a meat roast, drank wine mixed with Coke, went and played some pool in town, and conversed until about 9pm when we all were ready to crash out. It was great. Good food, enjoyable company, and a dry and safe place to sleep. Can’t beat that!

            When we awoke, Carlos, the driver who would eventually drive me the rest of the way to Buenos Aires, was motivated to get cooking. We, the hitching dude, another driver, and me, jumped into the truck with Carlos and headed to town. We bought chicken, veggies, more wine and coke, and jammed to some tunes while driving back to the truck stop with our loot. We stoked up the grill, drained some fluids, ate like wolves, and then Carlos got the call that he could load his truck that day! We were going to be on the road that night!

            So after a few hours of waiting around, Carlos returned and we rode the remaining 750 kilometers together up to Buenos Aires. When we arrived, he dropped me off at a point in the city where I could catch a bus and then a train toward the airport. It was the 27th and I was going to arrive only hours before Gaby. I got to the airport early, made Gaby a welcome sign, drank a liter of coffee, and then saw the girlie as she came wandering out of the gate. I ran, gave her a huge hug, began catching up on the time we had been apart, and started making plans for our couple of weeks together…

¡GRACIAS A TODOS! ¡GRACIAS CARLOS!
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