I was eagerly waiting to touch the ground of Argentina. Curious to take off with chapter 4 of the journey post our incredible experiences of Asia, Australia and Africa. I had my own curiosity for Argentina, we being aliens in terms of language and people. To overcome this challenge, we already had our own CD and book translators and some phone apps too! Soon the plane landed at Buenos Aires and we headed for the immigration counter. I was a little apprehensive but tried my best to answer all the questions with total confidence and cleared the first major step of immigration.
After picking our bags, we started our drive to the hostel in a cab. Wow! The fresh breeze and fragrance of Argentina embraced me and I got lost in my own thoughts of glaciers, people, homes and atmosphere of Argentina.
What happened next was quiet strange for me. We had to stop by the Shipping Agent’s office, to produce licence, passport and other documenys to get our vehicle cleared. Nora, a lady who worked in that office was supposed to help in the process. She greeted me with a kiss on my cheek leaving me puzzled. Someone explained to me that this is the culture of greeting in Argentina! Whoever meets whoever irrespective of friends or stranger or gender, this is the way of greeting. I asked him if he kissed men too everyday 🙂 to which he replied, hesitantly ‘no, I just shake hands’. 🙂
After getting our documents cleared, our vehicle was to be handed over the next day. So, we had afternoon till night to us which we spent strolling and looking around, experiencing various fragrances of restaurants, observing people kissing each other on the cheek. It was a fabulous time spent. Argentina appeared to be a vibrant place with people having fun around. After having some snacks, we took a cab back to hostel to simply doze off.
Next day , we headed to the port for our vehicle clearance. Our shipping agents’ were already waiting for us. I requested the driver to open the container. As it opened, we saw our lovely “Forrest” and drove it back to our hostel and parked in secured parking. Next day, we went to La Boca, which is popularly known as the place used by new immigrants. You can see tango dancers here and even take a photo or dance with them for a small fee.
We enjoyed watching an incredibly performed Tango show at the Tango Porteno theatre.There was something peculiar in the dance. It was the intensity and passion with which the partners look into each others’ eyes while dancing. They danced so well with each other totally in coordination. It was lovely to see their synchronized rythm.Tango dance is a must must see if you are in Argentina!
Next in our plans was to reach a little place – Bahia Blanca approximately 700 km from Buenos Aires. Our ultimate destination was Ushuaia, the southernmost town in the world. So we drove down those beautiful 700kms in our own vehicle driving on the right hand side of the road. Took some time off after 5 hrs of driving eating Pollo, another name for chicken which we learnt and Papa Farita meaning finger chips in a small road side outlet. The food had an enticing presentation and fragrance. Loved it. Food in Argentina is cheap. In next 3 hours, we were at Bahia Blanca. We chose this town enroute to Ushuaia as it was a big town to accommodate our needs.
By now it was dark and we were yet to find an accommodation. There was a car next to us on the signal. We asked of their help. “Hotel, hotel, sleep, sleep” I said making a sleeping action with my hands. He explained directions to us with his whole heart but we could not understand a bit. Realizing this, he asked us to follow him. Finally, he stopped the car and his wife pointed the hotel to us. We showed our gratitude towards them for helping us. Their son who could converse in English expressed his parents desire to have us at their home for dinner. We felt glad to hear this and they picked us up after an hour. It was a fantabulous evening spent. The whole family ensured we had a great time at their house and that we had a sumptuous meal. What a lovely experience it was. I would call this a true love of a human for a human irrespective of country or colour. This was such a positive evening which I will remember throughout my life.
Next morning, we headed towards Puerto Madryn renowned for whale watching. As we drove further, it was getting cold and soon we saw snowflakes. It was a beautiful scene but before we could realize, it was completely dark and the road ahead was fully covered with snow. I had to keep a sharp focus on the road. As we drove further, the climate became better and we were fine soon.
We were on our way to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. For anyone who is absolutely passionate about epic journeys, road trips, driving cross country and exploring remote terrains in the world, Ushuaia is always on the wish list. It is a challenge to get there, only a few people can claim to have got there and once you are there, well, you will have achieved a ‘landmark’ in your ‘adventure career’.
Finally, after a long long drive we reached Ushuaia. It was quite late. Then we wanted to stay in a decent hostel for which we researched for good 2 hours. That night I felt relaxed and at peace to realize my dream of reaching the ‘End of the world’! Next morning, we went down to the port and we saw the sign board, “Ushuaia, Fin Del Mundo” meaning “Ushuaia, End of the World”
“We have driven 3000 km from Buenos Aires only to see this sign board. We have seen it now” It was indeed a sense of achievement. Having gone through so many ups and downs, we were finally there. I wanted to capture the moment. This was an experience of the lifetime. No photograph, no article can create that feeling unless seen in reality. It was one of the most proud moment for me. I wanted the time to just stop there so thast I could digest this feeling.
Argentina was a great start to our Latin American drive. Tango dancing, warm and helpful people, meeting local families, driving to Ushuaia, very single day was a new story. On our meagre budget where some days we skipped meals, stayed in dingy hotels, shared rooms with backpackers in hostels, stayed hungry so we could fill up our fuel tank, all this just to make sure that could continue exploring, continue driving and continue moving ahead on our incredible journey. We survived the challenges and overcame the language barriers.
Article by Tushar Agarwal Co- Founder Adventure Overland
Photo credits Tushar Agarwal