Argentinian encounters

Version française disponible ici. 

Juan Carlos from Bajo Caracoles

We arrived at the end of the afternoon in Bajo Caracoles, a little windy village. We started to look for a sheltered place to camp. There was a small sign indicating a campsite ; but nobody was there to give us some details. We looked for Juan Carlos, we found his contacts details on iOverlander, an app dedicated to the travellers. As mentioned on the app, we went to the hospice to get more information. The door was opened by someone telling us that Juan Carlos was absent. But after a few questions, he finally told us it was a joke. He was actually Juan Carlos and let us going through! He is a nurse and gives the first aids within the 200 kms around the Ruta 40, before and after the village. He offered us to stay for the night in the bedroom located between the consulting room and the kitchen. 

From the first minutes, we felt like home thanks to the sense of humour of Juan Carlos. He offered us a maté and showed us his French cooking book. After a few pages, we saw the onion soup recipe. We know it very well. We prepared it as a starter while he was making pasta with a good homemade sauce. 

Fabio, the policeman of the village, in charge of the security on the same area as Juan Carlos, came for the evening. He wanted to make a local cocktail with Fernet (an herbal liqueur) and a lot of coke. A recipe with a taste of medicine…

To describe you at its best the ambiance of the evening, try to imagine a small health building in a little village where there is a small staff room at the back with a table, four seats, a nice chair and a disco ball. This was the only light of the room, making it full of colours. On the top of this, in the background, there was a loud 80’s music playlist because “Michael Jackson needs to be listened loudly…”

Jorge – El Mago Hamelin in Gobernador

During an evening at the campsite of Gobernador Gregores, we met Jorge, a professional magician travelling and showing his talent in exchange of hospitality or a few litres of petrol. 

We were intrigued by his unusual Ford pickup equipped. We said a few words and continued the discussion with a beer and pesto pasta made on our camping stove. 

Jorge impressed us by a few magic tours during the evening. 

The following day when we said goodbye, he showed us a last magic tour and gave us the trick cards to do it on our own. 

Jean-Luc & Nelly

We met Nelly and Jean-Luc for the first time in front of the “Anonyma” supermarket in Gobernador Gregores. This couple of bikers from the countryside in the Parisian area were exploring South of America with their BMW GS that they love since a few years. When they will be back to France, they want to by an Ural sidecar. Therefore, they came to meet us when they saw our vehicles. After sharing a few travelling stories and our contact details, we went inside the supermarket. Following their advice, we bought our first “good” saucisson from the beginning of the travel (after fours months of travelling we became less picky about the criteria to select a good saucisson).

By chance, we met again the travellers from Adventura2. It was a hasard, in the long queue of the petrol station of Petrobras in El Calafate. A hasard which ended by an evening with a generous “parilla” on our little spot in the municipal campsite of the city. Jean-Luc and Nelly brought delicious saucisson, cheese and wine (so Frenchy!). 

After visiting the Perito Moreno and continuing the journey towards South, it was at the “end of the world” that we shared the next beers. In Ushuaia, we celebrated our arrival at the most southern point of our trip in a friendly old pub. The weather could be like in Ireland but the local beer from the tap was nothing comparable to the amber gold from the Connemara.

When it was time to go towards North to reach the Uruguayan capital (place where our both containers will be shipped), we adapted two different strategies. The fastest motorbike opted for the eastern road going from the Bariloche lake to the Iguazu waterfalls ; while with our sidecars we decided to take the most direct road going alongside the Atlantic coast. In Montevideo, we met a last time on the South-American land. But without a doubt, when we will be back to France, we will share with these explorers of the southern lands a few beers and a part of asphalt. 

The fishermen in San Antonio Oeste

Following the advice from a retired couple (met at a YPF petrol station); we pitched up the tents at the “Club Nautico Social y de Pesca” during our stay in San Antonio Oeste. The campsite was there since only a few months, but the club organises fishing contests since many years. 

At our arrival, we were welcomed by Luis, the boss. Following his instructions, we selected an area with shadow at the back of the main building. Once the camp settled, we asked him where is the best place for buying the best fresh fish in town for the barbecue of the evening. Scratching his head of old fisherman, marked by the salt and the sun during the long days on the sea; he offered us to share a “parilla” with the fishermen living annually at the campsite.

Franco and his brother made a paella with the victuals from the previous fishing. The ingredients were stewing in a massive pan above a firewood. We shared our first beers Quilmes of the evening around the fire. 

The following day, after a relaxing day, it was our turn to prepare a dinner to our hosts with French specialities. 

Initially, we wanted to go back on the road the following day but we worked longer than we thought on the sidecars. We finally shared an Argentinian “parilla” for this third evening at the nautical club. We didn’t stay too long as at dawn, the boat of Franco’s brother will leave the port while Franco and Nicolas need to be at the port early in the morning to repair the cables for fishing on their boat.

When we woke up, we shared the maté with all the team before they start their working day. Before to leave, we went quickly to the port to say goodbye to Franco and Nicolas. At the beginning, the safety agent of the port was not very happy to let tourists going inside this place under surveillance. Finally, he accompanied us on the quay to show us the different boats. Before to leave, we quickly waved to Franco who had a lot of work to do with the cables. 

Ricardo, Ivan & Marcos

This encounter happened in the small village of Hornopiren on the Carratera Australe. We were looking for the ticket office of the ferry, to reach the small village of Chaiten with Ricardo and his two sons, Ivan and Marcos. It was finally on this ferry that our friendship started. We crossed with a rainy weather and in spite of this, the landscapes were glorious. Ricardo left Buenos Aires with his two sons for a trip of several weeks in Patagonia with two BMW. 

We saw them again on the “glacier of the explorers” nearby the small Chilean village of Puerto Rio Tranquilo. As our paths split after this adventure, Ricardo offered us to pitch up the tents in his garden when we will visit Buenos Aires. 

A few days before our arrival in the Argentinian capital, we contacted him. He welcomed us with a lot of enthusiasm. Upon our arrival, Ricardo wanted to make everything perfectly. The idea of pitching up the tents has been replaced by staying in two nice rooms. We unpacked and Ricardo did everything for making a perfect stay. 

For the evening, everyone enjoyed a “parilla”. Ricardo revealed some secrets for a meat perfectly cooked. Firstly, there is a fire at one of the extremities of the barbecue before to spread the burning embers under the meat. Therefore, there are no risks for fighting against the flames. Secondly, to know if the temperature is good, you need to be able to leave your hand above the meat during 10 seconds (no more which means the fire is too strong, not less which means the fire is not powerful enough).

When we woke up the next day, we enjoyed delicious croissants for the breakfast. Then, we went in Ricardo’s car for visiting the city of Tigré and the Argentinian capital.

At the end of the afternoon, we took place in the kitchen to make a French dinner for all the family. On the menu, melon with cured ham, flambé chicken with a gratin dauphinois. For the dessert, crepes with apples and a homemade caramel sauce made with salted butter. 

For our third day with Ricardo, with his GS and our Urals, we visited the traditional village of San Antonio de Areca which highlights the culture of the “Gaucho” (local cow-boys) and the traditions of the Argentinian countryside. We ended this day by sharing a beer in the area of the Belén de Escobar.

After a last day of exploring the streets of the capital, we left Ricardo, his wife Astride and Marcos on the following day at the end of the morning. The boys followed us until the last interchange of the highway number 9. Our roads split again but, for sure, we will meet soon….