Into Argentina-Our 13th Country
Our first border crossing into Argentina was the quickest and easiest we’ve experienced on our entire trip. We crossed at a remote border called Paso Roballos. From the Chilean border post, where one guy -on a 30 day rotation and 2 weeks past due- was working and everything was done old school: paper and pens, we had to drive another 12kms through empty wind swept grass lands to the Argentina border post. Here we were greeted by a small oasis with a windblown outpost surrounded by dry pampa, a sign welcoming us to Argentina, and one guy who had been out here working for weeks as well. Argentina has recently imposed a new reciprocity fee for Americans and citizens of a few other countries for entering by land. In the past we had to pay this fee only when arriving by air, but the new rule applies to border crossings by land as well, and has to be purchased online before arriving at the border. We had read that they were indeed enforcing this as well as requiring proof of insurance for the vehicle which also has to be bought before arriving as they don’t sell it at the border. Since we were so far out in the middle of nowhere, we weren’t taking any chances, so we had proof of both in hand but decided not to offer it up unless asked as an experiment. The guy took our passports and asked if we had any other papers for the truck. We gave him the title and a few minutes later we were given a hand written import paper for the truck, some stamps in our passports and we were good to go. I guess the remote borders are the way to go. I do hope that at some point we are asked for our proof of payment of the reciprocity fee otherwise we will have wasted $160 bucks a piece
Upon entering Argentina (our 13th country in the last 3.5 years!), we had crossed to the other side of the Andes range and we were immediately introduced to the infamous Patagonian winds. The landscape changed dramatically as well, becoming dry grasslands stretching on for as far as the eye can see, interrupted now and then by rolling hills and large plateaus. Definitely a far cry from the green mountainous scenery of the Carretera Austral.
As we followed the dirt road out to the Ruta 40 and headed south, we saw herds of Guanaco and Ñandu or Rhea; a smaller version of the ostrich grazing lazily in the empty fields. We also got our first glimpse of the armadillo peludo (hairy armadillo) that we had seen in a pamphlet a few days before and for some reason became obsessed with finding. One of the guys at the Parque Patagonica the day before had told us they were fairly rare to see, but sure enough as we headed down the dirt road, one went scurrying across the road right in front of us. We immediately stopped and got out, but those little creatures move incredibly fast. We managed to get a few pics before he had dug himself half way into the ground then abandoned that plan and simply flung himself into the small stream to get away. Poor guy, we probably scared him half to death.
We drove for hours on some of the worst dirt roads we’ve experienced so far before finally hitting the famous Argentinean Ruta 40 and turning south. The road didn’t really bother us, as we were too caught up in our excitement to finally have made it to Argentina. We were on our way through Patagonia, one step closer to Ushuaia that mythical southernmost city we had set out to find in what seems ages ago. The journey was never really about getting from a to b, but about finding and enjoying everything in between. As the quote by Greg Anderson says: “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” I feel we’ve done a pretty good job of . Still though it felt good to be getting close. We enjoyed the scenery as the miles rolled by of unendless grasslands. It was good we got at least one day of enjoyment until it all blurred into the same boring scenery as it would in a few days to come.
We kept truckin’ until close to dark, then found a spot along a river to camp for the night. Logan, Reid, and Zephyr of AmericanRecess were still with us, and set up their truck next to us to try to help as a wind block for the tent. It was the first time setting up the tent in high winds and we were a bit worried about getting blown away. We’ve been hearing about the Patagonian winds forever, but it is one thing to hear of something and an entirely other thing to actually experience it. The next morning our tent hadn’t been blown away or snapped in half by the wind (thank you North Face and thank you Jorge). We took it as a good sign and rolled our way south…