Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hurrah! I made it to Ushuaia, presumably the most southern city in the world and over 3000 km away from Buenos Aires!
So how did I get here? Monday I made another attempt to leave Puerto Madryn and got picked up by Sergio. He was on his way to Rawson, was willing to drop me of at Trelew (atlas!) and managed to cover the 100km distance in about 45 minutes, averaging a speed of about 130 km/h. Yes, average, so you know how fast we went... In Trelew I got picked up by Angel and his truck, which was maybe not only the oldest one in Argentina, but almost surely the slowest. At Sergio´s speed I would have reach the next town, Comodoro Rivadavia (get that atlas out!), in about 2 hours, but Angel, his truck and therefor also me took about 8 hours! This in a truck which wasn´t really a comfortable place to be, there was for example no passenger seat, so I used my backpack for this purpose. It was already evening and getting dark when I got out of the truck and had little hopes of getting any further that day, but I tried anyway. To my surprise I got picked up by Miguel and his brandnew Mercedes truck, complete with passenger seat and a reasonable speed. Miguel intented to drive until he got tired and then get some sleep and he asked me where I preferred to sleep, if he had to drop me off at some hotel (not that there were (m)any...). I told him I would sleep in my tent, next to his truck, but then he proposed I would sleep in his truck, on top off the load he carried. So I spend the night sleeping on about 40 tons of potatoes, unions and very comfortably on top: cornflakes. I can tell you now that a few 10 kg bags of cornflakes make an excellent bed! The next day we continue to the town of Rio Gallegos, already quite near "the end of the world" and we arrived there at about 3 pm, so I had high hopes. These were shattered quite quick as I met another hitchhiker who had been waiting for 2 hours without any luck. In total I spend about 6 hours and I was very close to giving up (but you know what they say: "Never give up!!!"), when truck nr. 276 (give and take a few...) picked me up and the driver, Guillermo, delighted me with the news that he not only went straight to Ushuaia, but had no intention to sleep. After some further thought however, this started to worry me a bit, especially after he told me that he hadn´t slept the 2 previous nights either! Finally fate decided differently, because when we came to the ferry in Chile, which would carry us across the Mallaghan Straight (I told you to get that atlas!!!), we missed it by 1 minute and were told it was the last one that day and the next one would go at 6 in the morning. Disappointed we put our alarm at 5.30 am and fell asleep side by side in the cabin (Guillermo refused my offer to put up my tent). Suddenly I was woken up roughly as Guillermo shouted that we had to go ("Vamos, vamos!"). I wasn´t sure what was happening, but I followed his orders anyway and then it appeared that the ferry had decided to make another run and my driver was trying desperately to get aboard. So after 1 hour sleep we continued the journey all through the night and during this time I couldn´t keep myself from falling asleep and was woken time and time again by a joking Guillermo, who was telling me I was a worthless companion (yes, I confess...). But once the sun came up, the tables turned and my driver started to fall asleep between my desperate attempts to wake him up before we plunged down the highway, which was by now tightly hugging the mountains around Ushuaia. Then I proposed we should prepare some "mate", a highly popular sort of tea-like drink, which has about the same effect as coffee. Knowing that not many Argentineans would refuse to drink mate, this proved to be my life-saving move. We shared mate, my driver woke up, we finish the remaining km´s until Ushuaia and I am still alive, writing this story for you to read. All is well that ends well! I still fear for the life of Guillermo, who was telling me that he will immediately start his return trip of 3 days, after he received his new cargo and had still no intention of sleeping anywhere during this journey. The other truck drivers had similar behaviour and it all came down to making enough money to survive. Poor Angel had to drive from Argentina´s northern most province, Missiones, until almost reaching the second-most southern province, Santa Cruz, (a journey of almost 4500 km´s) and with his slow truck the whole roundtrip took 7 full days. Regularly he had to make 3 of these trips, without any days off (so he would be driving over 20 days in a row), before having 1 day off, seeing his family only 2 times, just for one night. Yes, life is hard in Argentina if you are not lucky enough to be one of the few rich people, or a foreigner ;-)
But I am a foreigner, so I am just trying to have fun and see this beautiful country. The last few days the views were a bit boring, with a landscape that basically consisted of 20 cm high bushes until the horizon, on all sides. Only 1 hour before arriving to Ushuaia the landscape changed into "amazing" and I couldn´t stop making pictures. This because I was surrounded by the ultimate parts of the Andes mountain range, which I intend to follow on my way up through Argentina, after I have visited Ushuaia. Now I am going to enjoy being in this amazing landscape, so I wish you all good luck and see you next time!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I am still in Puerto Madryn, or I am back again, to be more accurate. This because of a bit of an adventure yesterday. I wanted to go to Ushuaia, but didn´t like the idea to be on a tourist bus, so decided I try my luck with my thumb. I counted on spending at least one hour next to road waiting for a ride, but I got picked up by vehicle nr. 10 (after 2 mins.), driven by Dora, a very friendly lady from Buenos Aires. She wasn´t going to Ushuaia, but to the penguin colony a good deal south of Puerto Madryn and the deal was that after visting this colony she would drop me off next to the highway near there, so I could get on another ride. But after the first penguin colony, which was great, but quite pricey and very touristy, we decided there was still time to visit another one a bit farther out.

Click the picture for more pictures

That colony was gorgeous and we were the only ones there, which made it even better! But the best thing about going to this colony was actually the way down there, cruising through an amazing landscape, which reminded me strongly of Australia, filled with strange and interesting creatures and a visit to the tiny and dreamy little village just before. And not to forget the great conversations Dora and I had, discussing just about everything in our lives! By the time we left the second colony it was already getting dark and we started to hurry to get back to the highway. Once we got there, it was already dark and cold and to make things worse, there was no village or petrol station, just nothing. So we headed back up North to find an acceptable village to drop me of, but there was none. Eventually we ended up in the first town South from Puerto Madryn, with would still mean some progress on my way South, but quickly we found out that all the accomodation in this town was full. So with her last strength (by this time it was about 2 am and Dora was falling asleep behind the wheel about every other minute...) Dora drove back to Puerto Madryn, where we crashed in the same hostel I left that morning. Today is for the recovery of sleep missed yesterday and for the preparations for another try tomorrow, when I will hopefully get a lot nearer to Ushuaia! I will keep you informed...

(Y si lees este, Dora, gracias por todo y mandame un email!)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Hi people!
I am in Puerto Madryn now and just returned from my whale-watching trip today! Wow, that was terrific! We saw a few whales and got a good show with waving flippers and tails of a mother and her "little" baby. Later in the day we saw a lot of elephant seals, sea lions, pinguins and some other interesting animals. Overall a very good day!

Click the picture for more pictures

I have heaps of pictures, both from the farewell party and the whales, but I am have trouble to put them on the internet, so I am afraid you will all have to wait a bit more for that...
Puerto Madryn is all about the whales, so now that I have seen them, I am pretty much done in this place and tomorrow I will continue my way South, to Ushuaia. I am not sure if there will be some other interesting things on the way, if not, it will be about 1500 kilometres more to get to the most Southern city in the world, so it will take the better part of 2 days...
I will post more, when I have reach this end of the world! Besos! Chau!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hi everyone!
Well, I am typing this at the long distance bus station of Buenos Aires and I have got a ticket to get on a bus to Puerto Madryn, which will leave in about 15 minutes, so it looks like I am finally really going to go... So the next update will be from somewhere in the South of Argentina!
The party on Saturday was excellent, on of the better parties in my life, and I want to thank everybody who was there for making it such a succes and Chris for sharing his farewell party with me! Here you can view my pictures and here you can view Chris´ pictures! I will miss you all and hopefully I will see some of you again some day, somewhere!

Ok, my bus will leave soon, so I have to run. The whales of Puerto Madryn are waiting for me.
Until next time! Besos! Chau!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Well, I am still in the process of leaving Buenos Aires, but I am having some trouble saying goodbye, because I should have left a few days ago. The new date is Sunday or Monday as I have decided to throw a farewell party on Saturday in my hostel to say goodbye to all the good people that maybe won´t be here in February. Except for the party I am quite ready to go now. The bag is packed, almost all my stuff is sorted out and I just need to send some things home and buy some small things. So Monday is the day and I will keep you updated!

(And if you know me (and like me, for that matter) and are in Buenos Aires on Saturday the 18 of Novembre, please come and have a last drink with me in "El Hostal de San Telmo", Carlos Calvo 614, San Telmo, BsAs. It starts at 21hs and please bring something to drink and if the weather is good, also something to chuck on the asado (BBQ for people not in the know...).)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hello, welcome to my first post on my new blog-site. I have created this blog-site because my previous website did work properly anymore and I haven´t been able to fix it yet.

The news is that after 9 months I am leaving Buenos Aires (BsAs)!
For the people who don´t know what happened to me in the last few months (or years) and why I have been in BsAs for so long, you can find a short history at the end of this post.
Now I am packing my bags and I am planning to travel to the south of the Argentina, to Patagonia, etc. Maybe after that there will be some time left for other countries, like Chile and/or Brazil, before I fly back to The Netherlands (Holland) in February 2007. The idea is that I will visit Holland for a while, but will return to South-America to make an overland travel from there all the way up to Canada, followed by a 1 year-long working holiday in this country.
For now, I thank all my friends and people I met in Buenos Aires for the good times we shared.
And maybe we will see each other again one day...

The history of my travel and my time in Buenos Aires:
After I lived in South-Africa for 5 months in 1999/2000, I decided I wanted to see more of the world and that I wanted to make some kind of big trip/worldtravel. My former Dutch girlfriend Esther had the same idea, so together we finished our study, worked for a while to gain some money and working experience and then we started our travel at 1 October 2002. Since then we travelled, lived and worked for about 3,5 years in Asia, Australia & New-Zealand. Everything about this travel you can find at our travel website. We arrived in BsAs at the end of February 2006 with the intention to travel around South-America. However, shortly after we arrived in BsAs our relation ended and Esther returned to Holland. I intended to travel in South-America alone, until I met a very nice girl from BsAs, Mariana, and fell in love with her. We were together for almost 5 months and in that time I have been trying to stay in BsAs to be with her. I learned Spanish, tried to earn some money by working as an English teacher and I was looking for an apartment, etc. Unfortunately this relation didn´t work out in the end and I started thinking about travelling again. But I stayed in BsAs for a few months more, as I was already working, had made friends here and had come to like this city. I also made a short trip to Santiago and had a short love affair there and later back in BsAs I found a new girlfriend, Nora. But in the end the travel bug roared its ugly head and I have decided to finally make a start with my travel around South-America now, the very reason why I came here in the first place. Hopefully this will be just as good as the first part of my travel and my stay here in BsAs!