Sunset from Don Pilar campground

South America by Subaru 19/10/29 – Into the Wild

Prior post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/14/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-28-rise-from-the-abyss/

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It’s with great relief that we pack up this morning and prepare to leave Mendoza after an unanticipated week here. We have the last of Ines’ breakfasts, take some departure photos, and head northeast out of town.

Ines and John
Ines and John
Ines, Casa Huésped, Godoy Cruz, Argentina
Ines, Casa Huésped, Godoy Cruz, Argentina

Our destination is a national park of which I just became aware a few days ago. We’re traversing typically flat Argentine terrain, along a paved highway with herds of goats grazing on the shoulders. The roads are quite empty and we make good time, covering the 160 miles to the park entrance by 4 PM. Susan has agreed to camp tonight in the park, which is quite isolated and with no nearby services or even, for that matter, public drinking water. I’m excited because this will be Susan’s and my first night in the tent that we purchased almost 2 years ago.

Sierra de las Quijadas is, indeed, remote. A friendly ranger at the entry station explains the layout. Two unrestricted trails, a small campground, and the chance (no guarantees) to see condors, pumas. guanacos, and maras (rodents with rabbit-like features). Unlike most Argentina national parks, there are no hefty entrance charges, although I see evidence of past fee collection. Even the camping is free. We check out the campground and find it surprisingly pleasant and shady for this hot, arid area. Since the sun is getting low, it’s a good time for hiking so we go out to the end of the park road and set out on one of the two short trails. Geologically, the area is an ancient sedimentary basin uplifted into mountains of relatively soft rock that have eroded into badlands — which we have all to ourselves this afternoon. The views out over the valley are gratifying and signs identify many of the plants along the trail.

Sierra de las Quijadas
Sierra de las Quijadas
Intricate erosion
Intricate erosion
Prickly pear cactus
Prickly pear cactus

We see vultures soaring high above, swallows diving frenetically in the ravine below us as they feed on the wing, and a few songbirds but nothing else in the way of wildlife.

Distant vulture
Distant vulture
Feeding swallow
Feeding swallow

Returning to the car we set out on the other unrestricted trail that leads through the sculpted formations to several valley overlooks. It’s not a difficult trail but heat, fatigue, and uneven footing cause us to turn back a little early. I have an extra backtrack detour to retrieve some litter I accidentally left on a bench.

Sierra de las Quijadas
Sierra de las Quijadas

There are two other trails but they require hiring guides, and those guides are based many miles away. One of the walks leads to dinosaur footprints — well, one footprint since the ranger explained that the rest were excavated and transported to a distant museum. Needless to say, the expense and time required to procure a guide don’t seem worth it to us. Now if they could assure we would spot a puma in the wild.. That would be a different story.

On the drive back to the campground, we see several maras in the brush alongside the road. They exhibit little fear of the car or us, continuing to browse as we approach to within 20 feet. They’re odd looking animals, with rabbit like ears and hind feet and an almost tailless two-tone rump.

Patagonian mara (rodent)
Patagonian mara (rodent)

Although not particularly bulky, they’re the fourth largest living rodent, exceeded only by the freakishly large capybara, the beaver, and the porcupine. Although the relaxed ones in front of us don’t show us, they are said to be capable of sprinting 18 or 30 miles per hour. You can choose which number to believe.

Maras
Maras

We’ve traveled thousands of miles in Argentina over 3 trips and can state quite authoritatively that most of the country has been so civilized that it’s virtually devoid of wildlife. Only in designated reserves and some areas of abandoned estancias (ranches) have we spotted anything other than cows, sheep, goats, horses, and the birds and rodents that coexist with them.

Will the guanacos be offended?
Will the guanacos be offended?

We choose the best of the 6 walk-in campsites and start carrying our gear from the car. To my dismay, I discover that the air mattress cap is not with the mattress and pump. I know I packed it but 20 minutes of intense searching fails to locate it. Even though it means sleeping directly on the ground, Susan gamely agrees to camp anyway.

Sierra de los Quijadas campsite
Sierra de los Quijadas campsite

As we eat a cold snack/supper, we’re treated to a magnificent desert sunset.

Sunset from Don Pilar campground
Sunset from Don Pilar campground

As darkness falls, an increasing array of stars become visible due to the clear air and absence of light pollution. In the hours after sunset, we see a crescent moon and 4 planets spaced in a narrow arc of the ecliptic: Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury.

left to right: Mercury, Venus, Moon
(left to right) Mercury, Venus, Moon, Jupiter. Saturn was also visible out of camera range.
(left to right) Mercury, Venus, Moon, Jupiter. Saturn was also visible out of camera range.

As the moon sets and the darkness intensifies, the sky fills with stars and the Milky Way is very evident. Even lying in bed later, we see a celestial display though the gauze roof.

Most of the world’s population rarely sees such an unobscured night sky. Already in big cities, the glow of lights makes most stars invisible and it looks like it’s going to get much worse. SpaceX has started launching “constellations” of low orbit satellites to provide global internet service. It plans to have 42,000 of them. Other big companies like Amazon will compete and it’s possible that the look of the night sky, regardless of ground conditions, may be dramatically altered by hundreds of thousands of satellites speeding across it. Our grandchildren might never see what humankind has always known as the starry night.

Despite the hard ground, we drop off to a somewhat fitful sleep in the silent and remote Argentine landscape.

Next post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/19/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-30-santa-rosa-to-see-friends/

South America by Subaru 19/10/28 – Rise from the Abyss

Prior post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/14/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-27-casa-huesped-godoy-cruz-argentina/

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This morning I wake up, shoulder my precious A-frame, and walk about a mile to the Hermanos [Brothers] Ricci repair shop. I get there just as they’re opening and hand off the parts to Carlos who says he’ll get to work on the car immediately. I’m back at the hostal in plenty of time to eat Ines’ nice breakfast with Susan.

We spend the day relaxing until I get a text at 4:30 saying the car is ready. I walk back to the shop, this time noticing another Mendoza hazard for the unwary. At one point, a wide new sidewalk approaches the street corner. The left side bridges the ditch smoothly to the curb, while the right ends abruptly at the yawning abyss. You wouldn’t want to come on this in the dark, or drunk, or distracted.

Please watch your step... or else!
Please watch your step… or else!

The car is ready when I arrive and the bill is very reasonable, although the $500 I paid for the factory Subaru part in Santiago was not. I drive out to the highway and head south to test run it at high speed. After winding it out to 80 mph for about 7 miles, I take an off ramp to turn around and head home. As I reach the cross street, I’m suddenly smelling something burning and smoke is rising from the area of the repair. I get onto the shoulder immediately and kill the engine, fearing a fire under the hood. When I lift it, there’s plenty of smoke, but no fire so I abandon my plan to dive for the extinguisher tucked under the driver’s seat. As the air clears, I can see a strong pattern of liquid splatter down low against the firewall and drive train. It looks like a pressurized leak was spraying flammable liquid on to the hot exhaust pipes.

I see this as a serious problem and text Carlos for emergency help. He assures me there’s nothing wrong but drives down to join me at the side of the road. He looks under the hood and explains something about grasa (grease) that I don’t fully comprehend. Making it clear there’s no danger, he has me follow him back to the shop. Once there he puts the Subaru on the lift and shows me the front right axle. When reassembling the front end, he greased the universal joint under it’s rubber sleeve. During my high speed test, excess grease was flung from the rapidly turning axle causing the spatter pattern I thought was a pressure leak. Once the excess is gone, the burning smell will stop.

The damage done by my careless driving into the pozo 5 trying days ago is fixed, but the omnipresent Mendoza ditches are still on my mind. Relieved to be mobile again, I drive back to the hostal, but along the way I see a now ironic scene. A sign warning of the danger of two-car collisions at a traffic circle sits directly above an unremarked yawning abyss.

Ironic warning sign in Mendoza, Argentina. It's the ditches you have to watch for.
Ironic warning sign in Mendoza, Argentina. It’s the ditches you have to watch for.

Susan and I are both dying for a non-ravioli meal, so we do a little internet research and drive to Anna’s Bistro downtown. We have a very nice dinner in their lush garden and go back to the room feeling renewed in several ways. Tomorrow the journey resumes.

Anna's Bistro, Mendoza, Argentina
Anna’s Bistro, Mendoza, Argentina


South America by Subaru 19/10/27 – Casa Huésped, Godoy Cruz, Argentina

Prior post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/14/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-26-my-iditarod-car-parts-to-mendoza/

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Today, first, a digression: why has the bidet never become a North American bathroom fixture?? Doesn’t an inverted asshole shower make excellent sense?

Bidet, virtually unknown in the U.S.
Bidet, virtually unknown in the U.S.

Ines, our host, has become downright chatty since I procured a cheap smartphone for her in Santiago. At breakfast, we exchange information about families, including the mandatory Latin American question, “¿Nietos?” (grandchildren?). Finally, after years of disappointing people by saying I have none, I can finally bring joy to their eyes by telling them my first one will be born in February. Finally, I am a man . Now if only we can get the pitying look out of their eyes when they find out Susan has never had children…

We exchange small gifts and I ask her for a Casa Huésped business card. On it, I notice her full name is Ester Ines Tumbarello Marino. I address her as Ester and get a quick correction, “Ines… Ester is Jewish.” I may be misunderstanding, but it appears to be the most casual sort of anti-Semitism. Nonetheless, Ines is a hardworking woman surviving economically in a difficult, inflation ravaged economy.

Tomorrow, I deliver the parts to the repair shop and the Subaru will come back to life. Today we just veg out.

View from our room, CasaHuésped

View from our room, Casa Huésped

Next post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/14/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-28-rise-from-the-abyss/

South America by Subaru 19/10/26 My Iditarod: Car Parts to Mendoza


Prior post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/13/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-25-santiago-chile-in-turmoil/

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I’m up and out of the hostel at 5 AM, standing on the wide, deserted Alameda in the dark. The 25 pound car part is hanging painfully off my shoulders from the crude backpack kluge built into my duffel bag. Since I have no idea if the city buses are running this morning, I start out on the 2.5 mile hike toward the bus terminal. It’s a nice walk but my shoulders are aching, as much from twisting my head every few minutes to scan hopefully for the bus as from the load itself.

Eventually, I see the unmistakable light pattern of a bus in the distance and jog my way to the next stop in time to board. Now, of course, I arrive at the terminal way too early. I buy my ticket, which curiously costs a third more than the identical outbound trip two days ago, and sit around outside for almost an hour until the double decker bus pulls in and loads. This time, the trip is fully booked and I’m stuck in the last row.

Chile to Argentina bus
Chile to Argentina bus

During my long ago, 1984 five month meander in Brasil, we used to call where I’m sitting the shit seats, since they were always adjacent to the broken toilet compartment. Only once did we get a spot up front where we could see through the windshield. It was an overnight ride in the rural northeast of the country and we were so terrified to see potholes, cattle, and unlit cars come looming out of the darkness into the hurtling bus’s narrow cone of headlight that we gratefully settled for the shit seats on every subsequent ride.

The bus I’m on now has a very nice toilet on the lower level, so there’s no shit seat. As a lifelong car driver, sitting in the back of the bus is still annoying, though, but I just have to grin and bear it. The ride is uneventful, the Chilean highways unmarred by protest blockades. For the sixth time, I traverse the impressive Caracoles switchbacks on the Chilean side of the Andes.

Los Caracoles switchbacks
Los Caracoles switchbacks

At the border, Argentinian customs quickly notices my bulky auto part. Since this is not normal tourist gear, I’m at risk of being assessed a high import tariff. A few minutes of explanation that this is a Chilean part for my broken Chilean car ends satisfactorily when they’re able to verify in their computer system that my license plate entered Argentina 5 days earlier.

With everyone back on the bus and waiting to move on, a senior immigration officer with a stern demeanor boards and comes directly to the family in front of me for an additional check of their passports. They’re obviously Muslim since the wife is wearing a head scarf. It turns out they’re Iranians with a young son holding a U.S. passport. Although nothing comes of the additional scrutiny, it illustrates how nerve wracking it must be to travel as Asians. The mood is lightened only fractionally when the officer looks at the child’s passport and says, “Gringo, eh?”

The remainder of the long trip unspools as expected and we arrive on schedule in Mendoza, Argentina after 2 PM. Once again, the office that sells municipal bus fare cards is closed but I now know to pay another passenger cash to have them swipe me on board so I’m back with Susan at Casa Huésped by 3 o’clock.

Mendoza, Argentina city bus
Mendoza, Argentina city bus

I deliver the Chilean phone to Ines. Her reserved manner has now evaporated and she is much chummier with us. I had wondered why she so badly wanted a replacement phone from Chile since, in general, prices in Argentina are very much lower than across the border. She explains that for telephones, at least, Mendoza prices are about 3 times higher than in Santiago, so I was able to save her some serious money. We’re paying only about US$17 per day for a very nice room and a decent breakfast, so there’s no way she’s getting rich operating her 6-room establishment. We’re glad we could help out, because we’ve seen her working steadily every day keeping the place scrubbed and maintained.

With her lack of Spanish comprehension and car, Susan has spent the entire 60 hours of my absence at the hostal and she’s eager for a good meal. We walk about 2 miles through the area, searching for an acceptable place to eat. It’s siesta time, though, and most eateries won’t reopen until 8 PM so we end up back at the shopping mall restaurant for a very tasty but repetitive lunch of ravioli and dark beer. Today is Saturday and car repairs won’t happen until Monday morning, so we pass the rest of the day in our room.

For those who don’t recognize the Iditarod reference in the title, I’m facetiously comparing my journey from Santiago to Mendoza with “lifesaving” car parts to the 1925 dog sled relay that brought lifesaving diptheria serum from Nenana to Nome, Alaska. This trip was the inspiration for the modern 1000 mile annual Iditarod sled dog race.

Next post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/14/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-27-casa-huesped-godoy-cruz-argentina/

Demonstrator, Santiago, Chile, 25 Oct 2019. Hr sign says, "Apparently killing is not a sin if the state is the killer."

South America by Subaru 19/10/25 Santiago, Chile in turmoil

Prior post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/06/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-24-descent-into-the-maelstrom-santiago-chile/

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I’m up early, for no particular reason. My Subaru parts won’t be available until afternoon. The streets outside the hostel are quiet, the demonstrators having gone home to sleep.

I’m hoping to head back to Mendoza today, but the chances of pulling that off are slim. The last bus leaves at 1:30 PM and my parts aren’t promised until 2 PM. I’m going to check out of the hostel and get to the store at around noon, hoping they arrive early enough to let me catch that bus. My drop dead time for leaving the store, parts in hand, is 1:00 PM, so I’m clutching at straws.

I go downstairs to look over the optional $7 breakfast the hostel offers. There’s plenty of food and it’s nicely presented, but most of it is artificially sweetened fruit drinks, coffee, and South American pastries and breads. Although this is standard fare, I find all of it fairly unpalatable so I go out and buy breakfast items and sit in the kitchen eating. What I buy isn’t any better than what they’re serving, but it’s cheaper and I have a liter of cold milk with which to wash it down. I check out, realizing that I’ll most likely be back this afternoon. As I’m preparing to spend a couple of hours in the lounge researching and writing, an emergency message comes in from Susan. Somehow, the cell phone of Ines, our landlady of the moment in Mendoza, has disappeared, probably stolen. She’s asking if I can buy a replacement in Santiago and bring it back with me. I’m imagining a comical exchange since Susan understands only certain Spanish words and Ines speaks no English whatsoever. Somehow the concept comes across and the task is now mine to execute in the short period before I have to head for the parts store.

I immediately interrogate the desk clerk as to nearby cell phone vendors. A consultation group of staff and locals is quickly formed to ponder my problem. To my extraordinary good luck, there is an appropriate store virtually around the corner, but is it open today when so much is shuttered? I walk out to the Alameda, which still shows the effects of yesterday’s demonstrations, locate the store, and find it open and bustling. Excellent fortune as it will most surely lock down in a few hours as the demonstrators return. A salesman latches on to me immediately and I explain what I need, a basic smartphone, not carrier-locked, and cheap. My luck holds and they have just what I need. Ines had suggested a price cap of about 70 dollars and this one fills the bill for less than 60. I text back and forth a couple of times to Ines, via Susan’s phone, and Ines says “get it!” I close the deal, being careful to get a sealed factory box and inspecting the contents before paying. What seemed like an impossible task at the outset has been accomplished in under an hour. Susan tells me the reserved Ines has lit up and is literally dancing for joy at the economical solution to her problem.

Around noon, I shoulder my dead parts, cross the Alameda, and walk to the auto parts store. I ensconce myself on their waiting bench and do my best to cast significant looks at my salesman. Alternately pleading, impatient, and resigned expressions come pretty naturally to me, but it’s not as if he has any control over when the parts arrive. About 12:45, he tells me the delivery has come in. I excitedly queue up an Uber ride to the bus terminal, ready to trigger it the moment the metal touches my hand. The store paperwork and inventory procedures aren’t trivial, so I don’t actually walk out the door until 1 PM — probably too late. I call for the ride but it’s delayed in the heavy traffic and finally canceled. No go, but it was a long shot to begin with.

I walk back to the hostel, this time lugging 50 pounds of metal, both old and new parts, and check in to my same bunk .

I forgot to bring my leftover Chilean cash with me and I’m trying to avoid getting more so I’m limited to buying from places that accept credit cards. Normally, that’s no problem but in conjunction with the closures, my selection of stores is very limited. I’m thirsty and end up walking almost a mile from the hostel only to buy 2 liters of overpriced, bad tasting fruit drink. By this time, the demonstrations have resumed, so I hoof it back to the wide Alameda. The mood today is a bit less peaceful. Intersection fires have already been lit, there’s much more invective being hurled at the still-patient police, and vandals are being more brazen. At one point I see about 20 young men energetically rocking a 60 foot metal bus station railing out of its sidewalk foundations, perhaps to use it as a street barricade.

As I walk further west, I start to get whiffs of tear gas drifting in from out of sight. My eyes tear, my cheeks are stinging, and as I cross an intersection, the acrid burning smoke of a mattress fire starts to choke me.

Protest fire, Santiago, Chile, 25 Oct 2019a
Protest fire, Santiago, Chile, 25 Oct 2019a

I decide a fast retreat is in order and head down a side street at a trot. A noticeable number of others are taking the same action. One young man seeing me rubbing my eyes offers some water from his bottle to rinse them.

In the smaller side streets, the more peaceful protest still dominates. Every block is filled with groups of young marchers. Plenty of vulgar insults are being hurled at the police who have blocked off certain areas for their use, but again by a minority of the crowd. A frequent shout includes a word that sounds like “culio” which from the context is no compliment. The derisive term for the police seems to be “paco”. At one point a plastic water bottle is hurled at a group of standing police but elicits no reaction.


I have to say, though, that in two days an article in the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/27/chile-hundreds-shot-and-beaten-street-protests) reports that hundreds of protesters have been severely injured by beatings and non-lethal, but still very dangerous, ammunition. It also alleges that Chile media are self-censoring scenes of police violence, so my direct observations don’t tell the whole story. I talk to more people, take more pictures, and marvel at how committed the many thousands are to invoking real economic change. The original incitement, the 3% transit fare increase has been long forgotten, and the government has actually rescinded it in a futile effort to appease the demonstrators.

The people I met and talked to are committed to change, but with my limited Spanish, I couldn’t fully comprehend their nuanced or complex stories. If you want to see professional reporting of protester interviews, I highly recommend https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/30/chile-protests-portraits-protesters-sebastian-pinera.

As I mentioned yesterday, I shot a lot of photos. If you want to see more than the ones I’ve included here, the entire raw and unedited collection is at https://photos.app.goo.gl/pzeawM1WaUK9NhFg7.

I return to the hostel and sit in the lounge for a while researching and writing, but this isn’t much fun because I have only my phone to work on, rather than the laptop. Life is so hard. I give up and watch the live television news coverage which is reporting one million people in the streets. From the aerial photos of various cities, I can believe it. I sincerely hope these demonstrations lead to some fundamental economic changes but it’s not my fight and I have my own obligations. First thing in the morning, I have to get back to Susan and the Subaru in Argentina. I go up to bed and set the alarm for a 5 AM departure.

Next post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/14/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-26-my-iditarod-car-parts-to-mendoza/

Santiago, Chile protests, 10/24/19

South America by Subaru 19/10/24 Descent into the Maelstrom, Santiago, Chile

Prior post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/01/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-23-stupidity-strikes/

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I’m out of bed at 5 AM to get to Mendoza’s main bus terminal in time for the 6:30 bus to Santiago, lugging my heavy, ruined A-frame.

Ruined Subaru A-frame, 25 pounds of trouble
Ruined Subaru A-frame, the 25 pound albatross around my neck

The agent, pegging me immediately as a tourist, assigns me the front seat of the upper level, assuring I can see the expansive mountain views. The ride is uneventful and comfortable. Border formalities passing from Argentina to Chile are much simpler as a bus passenger than with our car.

I’ve sent a message to Álvaro in Santiago, who was so generous and helpful in storing and preparing the Subaru for its return to the road. He owns an automotive accessories business and, before long, he’s done the research, tells me what parts store to go to, and has arranged for me to pay the reseller price.

Arriving at the Santiago bus terminal, I immediately make my way the 4 miles to the store via local bus (micro) and foot. Although the city is in political upheaval, there’s no evidence of that along my route. At the store, I’m told the parts won’t arrive from the warehouse until tomorrow at 2 PM. Given the curtailed bus service to Argentina, my original hope of getting the parts to the mechanic in time to have the car repaired tomorrow, Friday, have already been dashed. Repairs can’t possibly happen until Monday but Susan is sitting in our Mendoza B&B with no car and very little Spanish at her disposal so I’m eager to get back as soon as possible. I’ve urged her to use this forced delay as a writing retreat but I know well that writing happens on her terms, when the timing and conditions are suitable.

I pay for the parts in advance and do a quick search for suitable accommodations. I find a US$7 bed in a highly rated hostel about a mile away on the Alameda, a prominent boulevard that heads west from downtown Santiago. Although Susan has never agreed to stay in a dormitory room, my needs are modest and I like the social interaction that often occurs, so I walk over there to check it out. As I near the Alameda, I see it occupied by a seemingly endless parade of overwhelmingly young demonstrators, many thousands, peacefully but determinedly marching, carrying an array of protest signs.

This piques my interest because we’ve been following the news from Chile every night. The protests are now in their eighth day and it’s clear they’ve become a mass movement, and unexpectedly here I am again not far from the heart of it. I check out the hostel, which is just steps away from the moving demonstrators, find it clean and pleasant, and get a bed in an otherwise empty 4 bunk room.

Che Lagarto Hostel, Santiago, Chile
Che Lagarto hostel, Santiago, Chile

I quickly head back out to the street to observe events. All the stores and buildings are closed and protected with metal roll downs. There’s a heavy police presence including armored vehicles but where I am they are largely stationary and ignoring the vile insults hurled by a minority of the demonstrators. Underlying everything is the rhythm of Chilean protest, cacerolazo (from “casserole”), the rhythmic banging of kitchen pots with spoons. Vehicles passing by, duplicate the rhythm with their horns.

I speak to a variety of young people. They’re all very friendly to me as a North American and I’m struck by how deeply dissatisfied they are with the status quo. They’re out here, at some significant risk to themselves – in some cases, parents are wheeling children in strollers – to try to force big changes in a prosperous nation whose inequality exceeds all other Latin American countries — and that’s saying something.

Santiago, Chile protests, 10/24/19
Santiago, Chile protests, 10/24/1

I’m very skeptical of revolutions, whether peaceful or violent. Successful ones tend to create power vacuums which are too often filled with corrupt politicians or other criminals. The American and French revolutions, arguably, were beneficial to the masses, but those are rare examples and were simultaneously fraught with many injustices and persistent cruelties. In this case, having developed many local acquaintances and friends, I fervently hope some lasting good comes out of this upheaval

Despite the overwhelmingly peaceful tenor, there are some hooligans vandalizing public amenities and some intersections have trash fires fueled with plastic, pallets, mattresses, and other flammables.

I shot a lot of photos. If you want to see more than the ones I’ve included here, the entire raw and unedited collection is at https://photos.app.goo.gl/pzeawM1WaUK9NhFg7

After some hours, hunger overcomes me and I’m forced to walk at least 10 blocks perpendicular to the Alameda to find any kind of open restaurants or small grocery stores – large supermarkets are out of the question. The few available eateries are expensive and not to my taste but I make do, then hoof it back to my 3rd floor bunk and fall asleep to the sound of boisterous groups wandering the street below until about 4 AM.

Next post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/13/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-25-santiago-chile-in-turmoil/

South America by Subaru 19/10/23 – Stupidity strikes!

Prior post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/01/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-22-rest-day/

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We wake up at Casa Huésped, ready to move on. By our second morning, we’ve gotten a bit friendlier with the owner, Ines. While eating the modest supplied breakfast, we share some family info and give her one of the photo collages we’re carrying as token gifts.

Casa Huésped, Godoy Cruz, Argentina
Casa Huésped, Godoy Cruz, Argentina

We throw the few things from our room in the car, and head out of town. Just a block away, I realize I need to mount my phone on the dashboard, so I pull over into a driveway entrance, out of the traffic lane, to do that. Except we never make it…

As I turn the wheel to pull in, the front right of the car, and Susan, free fall about a foot with a simultaneous loud “BANG!” and our forward motion stops instantaneously.

Before I go further, I need to describe a salient characteristic of Mendoza streets. Most of them are lined with parallel concrete ditches (pozos), two or more feet deep and almost as wide. I’m told these prevent flooding by channeling substantial runoff during wet periods. Basically, they are open storm sewers. Some stretches of these are covered, but most are not. In addition, many of the pozos are placed immediately adjacent to their street’s driving lane. Over 90% of these have 8 inch high curbstones, usually painted yellow, separating the lane from the ditch. The other 10% is what got me.

Hole of Infamy
Hole of Infamy

In a failure to pay keen attention to the details of the road, I turned the wheel just a foot or two too early for the driveway I was aiming at and the front right wheel dropped into a short segment of unprotected ditch, with dramatic effect. There is no excuse for my failure to perceive the hazard, it was nothing other than blatant, careless stupidity. But, had I done that almost anywhere else, my tire would have harmlessly bounced off the substantial curbstone. Unfortunately, the spot I made my mistake didn’t have this protection. I was a pozo Bozo.

Every other pozo in sight has a protective curbstone...
Every other pozo in sight has a protective curbstone…
... but not the on I chose
… but not the one I chose

At any rate, there we are sitting askew with the chassis resting on the pavement and the front wheel and tire deep in the ditch, grotesquely jammed up against the wheel well. Clearly, this is not going to be a simple fix.

I want you to note, in the following account, how much help and kindness we receive from various Argentinians. This was an unexpected upside to a stupid mistake.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize we need a hook-and-chain tow truck to lift the car out of the ditch, followed by major repairs. People have come out of the adjacent retail businesses to stare at the idiot who drove his car into an obvious pozo. I ask them to call a tow truck for me, but several come over to the car and tell me I can reverse out of the hole. This looks impossible to me, but I dutifully get behind the wheel and put it into reverse while about 5 men grab the front right quarter and lift the car and wheel out of the ditch. I back up just enough to get it back onto the pavement, because that tire is jammed and turning only under extreme duress. Just about then, a police car pulls up behind me and two friendly Mendoza Province officers amble over to see what’s happened. After a short discussion, the one named Angel calls for a tow.

Since we’re only a block from our just-vacated hostal and obviously not going anywhere today, I help Susan drag our luggage back and inform Ines that we’ll need more nights. I’m back at the car in a few minutes. Since the car is blocking half of the northbound lane, there’s quite a traffic jam as city buses try to get around the it while oncoming traffic yields way only reluctantly. The policemen don’t seem to consider this any of their concern and we chat amiably until the wrecker arrives about 15 minutes later.

Friendly Mendoza police
Friendly Mendoza police

The police excuse themselves and the driver prepares to haul off the Subaru. I now appreciate that the car is already out of the hole and back on flat ground as his flatbed tow truck has no vertical lifting capability. The operator laboriously uses a manual jack to raise the jammed front right wheel and slip a dolly under it to allow it to roll. While he’s winching the car onto the bed, a well dressed passerby stops to observe. He’s a prescription drug representative named Eduardo, and after a minute’s conversation he says he can recommend a friend’s nearby repair facility.

Coyote Towing,. I doubt they licensed Wile E. Coyote from Looney Tunes
Coyote Towing,. I doubt they licensed Wile E. Coyote from Looney Tunes

The driver has no objection and with everything secured, he and I soon arrive at Hermanos Ricci (Ricci Brothers), a well equipped, modern tire store and repair shop. Eduardo’s friend, Carlos, is ready for us and the car is unloaded directly onto a lift.

Unloading at the repair shop
Unloading at the repair shop

He pulls the front left wheel and, in addition to some seriously mangled front end and steering parts, we can see a very substantial V-shaped gash in the wheel rim. In addition to repairs, it looks like I’m going to need a new rim and tire. Carlos and I exchange WhatsApp info and he says he’ll contact me as soon as he analyzes what’s needed. I amble the mile or so back to Casa Huésped down a pleasant tree-lined street, resuming my prior Argentina hobby of photographing Ford Falcons. While you almost never see a Falcon anymore in the U.S., they were assembled for years in Argentina and there are still many on the road in various states of restoration or decrepitude. In three prior Argentina trips, I’ve developed quite a Falcon collection.

Later in the day, Carlos texts me and asks if I can come down to the shop. I jog my way back to discuss the repair cost and time. First, on the bright side, he shows me that he’s already hammered out the damage to the wheel and the tire is holding air. No U.S. tire shop would ever do that. Then the bad news: he says the two main parts we need, the heavy A-frame and a steering link, are unavailable in Argentina in less than 45 days (Subarus are sold in Chile but not here). This has been my recurring concern with driving any car through various South American countries, possible lack of parts or skills in case of trouble. Even in Chile, I was unable to buy a set of rear brake shoes for my carry along collection of spare parts. Today, though, after 40,000 miles of meandering, it becomes an issue for the first time.

Substantial damage
Substantial damage

Fortunately, Mendoza is only an 8 hour bus ride from Santiago, although the city has been wracked by mass protests and transit shutdowns for 5 days now. I pack up the broken parts and head for the bus terminal, intending to take a night bus, shop for parts first thing Wednesday morning, and be back Thursday in the wee hours.

My first small obstacle is getting on the local bus to the terminal. I had asked the tow truck driver this morning whether Mendoza buses accepted cash and made change and he assured me they did. It’s only when I hop on the bus that the driver informs me I need a prepaid transit card. I must have really looked crestfallen because he waves me to the back with “Pase”. He’s giving me a free 30 cent ride. Arriving at the terminal about 4 PM, I ask for a ticket on the next departure for Santiago and am sandbagged when the agent says it’s not until tomorrow. It turns out the Chilean government, due to the roadway protests, has banned all night busses. During the crisis, they’re only leaving Mendoza between 6:30 AM and 1:30 PM.

Back to the hostal I go. As I leave the terminal I ask a bus dispatcher where I can buy a transit card. She tells me the office is closed (and this is during normal business hours, mind you). This time, I proffer pesos and tell the bus driver I’m unable to buy a card and he asks another passenger to pay my fare and I give that man the cash. Now I see how to handle the system.

Now, Susan and I, having no kitchen and no car, are really faced with very limited dinner choices. We go across the street — again — but stubbornly refuse to eat the same meal a third time. Instead we choose another food court option and order something named “hamburger” from a fast food joint, but it’s barely recognizable as such. Not particularly satisfied by our choice, we sleep off our dissatisfaction in anticipation of my multi-day parts quest to Santiago.

Next post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/06/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-24-descent-into-the-maelstrom-santiago-chile/

South America by Subaru 19/10/22 – Rest day

Casa Huésped, Godoy Cruz, Argentina
Casa Huésped, Godoy Cruz, Argentina

Prior post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/10/29/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-21-hello-argentina/

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We wake up refreshed, eat the modest supplied breakfast, and get a bit friendlier with the owner of Casa Huésped, Ines. I re-inflate the tire and head for the nearest tire shop to get it repaired. It turns out to be a routine small puncture, seemingly unrelated to yesterday’s rock impact. Unconstrained once again, I hit an ATM for pesos, return to Casa Húesped. The environment is pleasant and the room cheap, so we call a rest day and pass the time writing and relaxing.

As the day wears into night, we eventually get ravenous but, being indolent after lying around all day, return to the shopping center across the street and have a meal identical to last night’s, plates of ravioli and a large Quilemes dark. The restaurant is primarily a coffee shop and their selection of main dishes is very short. Once we get back to our room, we pass out immediately from the heavy meal.

Next post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/01/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-23-stupidity-strikes/

South America by Subaru 19/10/21 – Hello, Argentina

Prior post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/10/27/south-america-by-subaru-10-20-19-goodbye-santiago-chile/

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Everyone is up early at Hostal Berta. The nine Brazilian women bikers are leaving this morning for Argentina, as are we, so there’s quite a ballet around Berta’s two bathrooms. The mountain spring morning is clear, cool, and crisp. As we’re all eating breakfast, pictures are taken and one of the women, Sula, invites us to visit her in Florianópolis.

Brasilian Biker Breakfast
Brasilian Biker Breakfast
Brasilian Bikers Blastoff

Once they mount up and roar off. we throw our bags in the car, say our heartfelt farewells, and continue eastward.

Susan and Berta, "¡Revolución!"
Susan and Berta, “¡Revolución!”

The highway twists its way along the Aconcagua River, gradually approaching the steep ascent to the Andean pass that marks the international border. This is the 4th time I’ve driven over Paso de los Libertadores, and I’m awestruck every time. The wide shouldered, two lane, well paved road winds its way up the steep mountainside in about 30 switchbacks. This section is named Los Caracoles – The Snails – for reasons that are quite clear when you’re looking down the mountainside. A parade of semi-trailers and double-decker buses inching their way up or down share the route with smaller vehicles. Many people write how dangerous the road is, but it’s beautifully engineered and competently maintained. Visually, though, it has the potential to scare the hell out of drivers and passengers alike. The road ascends to over 10,000 feet and chains (which we always carry) are required during frequent snowfalls. In extreme conditions it can be closed for days.

Switchbacks ascending to Paso de los Libertadores
Switchbacks ascending to Paso de los Libertadores
Why they call it The Snails

Not to waste a long, steep slope, the sinuous road has a ski area overlaid on it. The chairlift sails above the road numerous times but, fortunately, the ski trail doesn’t have any grade crossings of the busy highway.

Ski slope superimposed on the highway
Ski slope superimposed on the highway

All the way up, the old railroad clings to sheer walls, the railbed blasted into the cliff or bypassing particularly treacherous sections through short tunnels. At the bottom, the tracks are far from the highway and near the top rails and road finally converge. The original 1910 engineering and construction were a marvel. It must have been some ride, although it’s said trains would be stranded for hours or days by snowfalls. Even under optimal conditions, train speeds up and down the steep grades were minimal. Specially designed locomotives used sections of cog railway to ascend and descend the steeper sections on both sides with the aid of rack and pinion traction.

Abandoned railroad high above highway
Abandoned railroad (with tunnels) high above highway

I would have loved to take that ride but, these days the route, though clearly visible all the way up, is greatly decayed, rock slides having blocked or wiped away many sections of the abandoned track. There are persistent but unrealized plans to reconstruct the route but they involve building a super long, low altitude tunnel along the lines of Swiss rail solutions. This would be much more reliable but far less dramatic and I doubt it will ever happen. Modern highways, trucks, and airliners have made railroads largely obsolete except for carrying bulk materials like ore, coal, and industrial chemicals.

The original auto route went 2,000 feet higher to the true pass, where, in 1904, as is mandatory in all Catholic countries, someone built a 4-ton statue of Christ the Redeemer. Google Maps still claims you can drive the old road and bypass the current tunnel, but on every trip I scrutinize the turnoff on the Chilean side and decide it looks too abandoned and sketchy to chance it. Perhaps in midsummer it’s snow free and navigable, but the only time I crossed the pass at that time of year, I didn’t know about that theoretical option. Every other time, the route definitely ascends above snow line, with no signage or evidence of maintenance. From the Argentine side the road looks better, but so far I’ve had no desire to drive a long dead end to see a religious monument.

Instead, we drive, as usual, through the well engineered but boring (get the pun?) 2 mile Cristo Redentor tunnel, squeezed among the buses and trucks that fill the oval cross section to within inches of the walls. Emerging on the Argentina side, we enter a broad valley that gently descends without the need for switchbacks. Here the old rail tracks meander along their own route, covered with long runs of snow shed built to ease winter maintenance. Many of the sheds are collapsed in yet another poignant reminder of technological obsolescence.

Decrepit snow shed over abandoned railroad track
Decrepit snow shed over abandoned railroad track

Entering Argentina, the integrated Chile-Argentina border post is over ten miles past the actual border. A mile before that is Aconcagua Provincial Park. The highlight here is Mt Aconcagua, the highest point in the western hemisphere. There are no good views from the highway and on the three prior trips, weather or park hours stymied our desire to see this enormous mountain. This time, finally, the sky is clear blue and the park is open. We pay the entry fee, drive a short way up the side valley and walk the loop trail that offers unobstructed views of the peak, which lies about 7 miles distant. As a former Alaskan who often boasted about living near Denali, at 20,320 feet, the highest point in North America, it’s humbling to realize that Aconcagua is 2500 feet higher. Not only that, but 45 other Andean peaks overtop Denali as well. There’s no Denali boasting in South America. The unobstructed view of Aconcagua is awesome, and we’re very gratified to finally see it.

Susan with Mt Aconcagua behind
Susan with Mt Aconcagua behind
This what we saw of Aconcagua 2 years ago, just the lower slopes.
By contrast,tThis what we saw of Aconcagua 2 years ago, just a bit of the lower slopes.

Here are some more photos taken during our walk:

Birds of Aconcagua:

High mountains often generate their own clouds that sit over the peak and curve along its profile. These are called lenticular clouds for their characteristic shape. In my experience such clouds are quite stable and stay over the peak for hours. Aconcagua, though, had a fascinating sequence of constantly changing lenticular clouds, an indication of ferocious winds at the summit.


And... my own lenticular cloud
And… my own lenticular cloud

Returning to the car and the highway, we next face border formalities. Generally our border crossings have been routine but every official in the gauntlet has arbitrary power and anything can go terribly wrong. Witness our problem last November, during our prior road trip, when Chilean Customs absolutely, unpersuadably wouldn’t allow us to take the Subaru out of northern Chile to Bolivia because we were not Chile residents, unexpectedly forcing us into a 2,600 mile detour (!!!) back south to where we are now and north to Bolivia via Argentina.

The border facility here is integrated, with Chilean immigration and customs sitting side by side with their Argentine counterparts. Given our prior disaster, we’re understandably stressed. As expected, though, everything goes smoothly, the final step being a perfunctory car search by a friendly Argentine customs officer before being released into the country.

The highway down from the pass traverses an impressively austere route, paralleling both the river and the forlorn abandoned railroad. After a couple of hours we reach the junction town of Uspallata, where I’m pleasantly surprised to find that gasoline in inflation-ravaged Argentina is substantially cheaper than in Chile, though still expensive by U.S. standards. The leftover currency I had from our last visit has lost about half its value in the intervening 11 months. Foreign tourists don’t have problems because the exchange rate compensates for inflation. We use mostly credit cards and only pull small amounts of cash from ATMs because (a) it starts shrinking the moment you put it in your wallet and (b) the ATM fees for foreigners are a staggering 12%, although ours are reimbursed by Schwab. The Argentines, however, suffer financially because their earnings don’t keep up with inflation driven price increases. Except for the rich, things are really rough here although there’s no sign yet of Chile-style unrest.

We’re heading for Mendoza, the gateway city a couple of hours southeast, but instead of again taking the main highway, we decide to take a route across the mountains through the Reserva Natural Villavicencio that, on the map, has a gratifying number of twists and turns. We start out on the well maintained gravel road, climbing gradually. Fifteen miles along, we pass a mine entrance and immediately past that the road condition deteriorates. It’s still very driveable but much bumpier with many rocks on the road.

Always opt for the interesting route

Half a mile later, we see what looks like a modern gravestone a bit above the road to the right. The name on it says Charles Robert Darwin. This of course piques our curiosity so Susan trudges up the short, steep hill to read the details. It turns out the stone memorializes that Darwin traveled this route on his way back from Mendoza to the H.M.S. Beagle, anchored at Valparaiso. That 500 mile round trip on muleback must have been some rugged journey in 1835. I’m almost ashamed that we’re breezing along in our 4WD Subaru Forester — almost.

"Darwin Passed By Here"
“Darwin Passed By Here”

Some minutes later, we see a dog trotting down the deserted road toward us. As we get closer we realize it’s not a dog but an Andean fox. We stop and the fox stops, not showing any great fear of us, and we commune with it for several minutes and take some closeup photos. This is the first time I’m putting our new camera, a Panasonic DC-FZ80K, to actual use and I’m very pleased with the results. Although it sells for a modest price and is not nearly as bulky as an expensive SLR, its 60X optical zoom, very good optics, and many convenience features quickly convince me I made a good choice.

The "dog"...
The “dog”…
... is an Andean fox!
… is an Andean fox!

The road continues ascending gently to about 3000 feet above Uspallata and then begins a twisting, dizzying descent. Instead of the 4300 foot drop on the main highway to Mendoza, we’re now carefully navigating a rapid 7300 foot elevation change. The road is rough and I’m constantly picking my way around pretty large, sharp rocks. We unexpectedly encounter guanacos. Generally, they’re very skittish but this group let’s us get quite close.

Guanacos in Reserva Villavicencio, Argentina
Guanacos in Reserva Villavicencio, Argentina

We stop frequently to enjoy the views and take a break from the necessarily cautious driving.

Starting descent in Reserva Villavicencio, Argentina
Starting descent in Reserva Villavicencio, Argentina
Looking toward Mendoza from Reserva Villavicencio, Argentina. You can see our road winding down the mountain in the distance.
Looking toward Mendoza from Reserva Villavicencio, Argentina. In the distance, you can see our road winding 7,300 feet down the mountains.

At one point, I misjudge the my track by a couple of inches and run the front right tire over a sharp edged, softball size rock. This is the kind of mishap that can ruin a tire, wheel, shock absorber, or spring, but we seem to have escaped any damage. Continuing down the winding slope, we finally encounter paved road at a hot springs resort.Termas Villavicencio. I had harbored some hope that it might have affordable lodging but, in addition to looking very expensive, it’s closed for the season. As we’re looking beyond the locked gate, a woman picnicking nearby walks over to us and says we have a flat tire. Visual inspection confirms that the right rear tire has lost most, but not all, of its air. I don’t think we’ve done any damage by running on it but it definitely needs immediate attention. I dig out the tire inflator to see if I can refill it and slowly, slowly, it comes up to an acceptable pressure.

Never travel without an air compressor
Never travel without an air compressor and leak detector (Windex in this case)

Now that we have paved road, I’m hoping we can make it to Mendoza without mounting the spare. I stop to check the tire every 10 km or so and it’s evidently just a slow leak that I can drive on.

We race into Mendoza before the tire deflates again. It’s now evening so repair will have to wait until morning. Using my trusty booking.com technique, we locate a very nice hostal, Casa Huésped, that offers a clean, comfortable room, private bathroom,, breakfast, and courtyard parking for only US$17. The proprietress is a little brusque but accommodates us with a room away from the busy street. Hungry but lazy, we head across the street to a shopping center, and have plates of ravioli and a giant Quilmes Stout, Susan’s favorite Argentina beer – mine too, if a person who doesn’t particularly like beer can be said to have a favorite. The meal is tasty and cheap and, once sated, we walk carefully back to the hotel in the dark and are soon asleep.

Next post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/11/01/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-22-rest-day/

Mobile again!a

South America by Subaru 19/10/20 – Goodbye, Santiago, Chile – Joyful reunion with Hostal Berta

Prior post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/10/27/south-america-by-subaru-10-19-19-santiago-chile-under-siege/

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This morning we face the formidable job of packing the car and new rooftop box with everything we brought down plus everything left in it from the earlier trip. Surprisingly, that goes pretty well and we’re even able to leave the rear seat free for possible hitchhikers. A mysterious law of car travel is that packing efficiency evolves – the same stuff packs better and tighter each time you load it. Of course, if you acquire more crap along the way, all bets are off.

By coincidence, today is Susan’s 69th birthday, so our celebration consists of hitting the road on our 3rd South America perambulation.

We leave Santiago, grateful that I filled the tank yesterday because every gas station we pass this morning has long lines stretching back into the streets. This is doubtless an effect of the crippled transit system.

We are heading for Hostal Berta, another small lodging run by a wonderful family. We’ve stayed there twice before and even the first time it felt as if we were old friends. They’re about one hour shy of the primary border crossing linking Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina, in a little community called Villa Aconcagua. We divert into Los Andes along the way to pick up some gift wine but it’s a wasted side trip. All the supermarkets are closed, fearing possible looting. The drive is otherwise uneventful although we veer around the smoldering remains of two roadblock fires from last night. A few seconds after we negotiate each one, Google Maps helpfully announces, “Warning, obstacle in road.” Smart, but not quite smart enough.

Hostal Berta, Villa Aconcahua, Chile
Hostal Berta, Villa Aconcagua, Chile

We arrive about 1:30 pm to a warm welcome. Alex and Berta have prepared – unsolicited – an amazing birthday feast in Susan’s honor. Barbecued meats, cooked vegetables, salads, wine, and more. Almost everything is local and all is prepared in the quincho, a traditional Chilean outdoor kitchen and dining area. To make the meal even more celebratory, they’ve festooned the ceiling with birthday balloons. What generous friends.

Chef Alex
Chef Alex
Home cooking
Home cooking
Birthday balloons for Susan
Birthday balloons for Susan
Birthday balloons for Susan
Berta, daughters Gabriela and Francesca
Susan and the feast in her honor
Susan and the feast in her honor

We have a great reunion and the talk quickly turns to politics and the protests. Fiery Berta, equally fiery daughter Gabriela, and neighbor Maritza complain bitterly about the level and handling of violence against women, the privatization of drinking water, the difficulty most families have making ends meet, and the massive economic inequality in Chile. They good naturedly shout, “¡Revolución!” but it’s not just a joke. They tell us that cows die of thirst because farmers can’t afford to buy sufficient water from the corporations that control it. Indeed there’s a proposal to privately dam up the Aconcagua River and drown their entire valley. Changes are truly needed in Chile, as they are in many nations.

Berta, "¡Revolución!
Berta, “¡Revolución!

After lunch, Berta gives us our room, saying they only have one other guest at the moment. We settle in, grateful for the rural peace and quiet amidst the uncertainty of the upheaval across Chile. The tranquility is disturbed only by the thrice daily copper ore train that rumbles by just 70 feet away.

The narrow gauge track was part of the Transandean Railway that used to go over the pass, connecting Valparaiso, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina. The line employed some impressive railroad engineering, but was abandoned as an economic failure in 1984. Now only a portion operates on the Chilean side to haul ore from a major mine further up the valley to the Pacific coast. Copper is said to be Chile’s most valuable export.

As we’re settling in for a quiet evening, some new guests arrive, a group of 9 Brazilian women, all riding substantial touring motorcycles. They’ve arrived unannounced and Berta scrambles to accommodate them, filling every bed in the hostal and housing the remainder with her neighbor.

Arrival of the Brasilian Biker Broads ("Broads" used only for alliterative purposes!)
Arrival of the Brasilian Biker Broads (“Broads” used only for alliterative purposes!)

In speaking with them, I find out they’re from all over Brazil, northeast to south. I also confirm what I already know – only tiny remnants remain of the Portuguese I learned pretty well during my 5 months traveling in Brazil in 1984. When we return there in a few weeks, communicating will be a real challenge. Fortunately, although most Brazilians vehemently deny any language similarity, they can actually understand Spanish without inordinate difficulty. The women are preoccupied with getting their sleeping arrangements settled, so we talk a bit but don’t get into any lengthy conversations before Susan and I retreat to our rooms for the night. The women sit outdoors until late at night, smoking, drinking, socializing, and playing music.

It’s been a great birthday for Susan.

Next post: http://blog.bucksvsbytes.com/2019/10/29/south-america-by-subaru-19-10-21-hello-argentina/