With a big `puff` I put my backpack on the sight of the road. Three policemen curiously observe my actions from behind their pilot-worthy-sunglasses. With their hands in their pockets they casually lean against their massive police 4x4. Their curiosity reveals their happiness that there`s finally something happening at the gas station of the sleepy little, rural town of Daireaux. A small country town that, besides a notification on google maps, won`t receive a lot more fame. A little than 30 minutes before, we had been dropped off here by an overfriendly truck driver. He was out of the world excited that he finally met other hitchhikers on the route 65 than his local neighbours.
Pablo drops us of at the border. To get back north, we have to travel via Chile. As always, he greets everybody on his way with a warm embrace and a short chat. For a short moment I think he must know almost everybody in Argentina. We get our passports stamped, while Pablo catches up with all his friends at the border crossing. Now the time truly comes to say goodbye to our special and endearing friend. “Saturday I`ll fly to my house in Buenos Aires. I`ll wait for you there with my wife, children and grandchildren.” We promise him to make it to Buenos Aires and say our farewells with a tear and a smile.
“Pablo! Pablo, mi amor, how are you doing?” So happy to see our old friend again, I don`t even give myself the time to pull off my backpack. Filled with enthusiasm I run over to his desk and give him a warm hug. As always Pablo has a big smile on his face matching his calming karma which could easily beat the brightness of the Dalai Lama or Nelson Mandela. Grant follows me and gives Pablo a hand. Pablo, a short, balding man stands in between us. “How were your travels in Ushuaia?” He asks while he looks up into our eyes. “Ow Pablo it was amazing! Unbelievable, the nature, everything. Absolutely mind-blowing.” Pablo gives us a gentle stroke over the shoulder. “Please take a seat my friends. I`ll make some mate and then I want to hear everything about your adventures.”
“Sweety wake up..” I hear from a distance. Slowly I open up my eyes. It`s still dark in the room. “Urggg…. Are you crazy? What time is it? 4 o `clock in the morning or something? I mumble to Grant with a grumpy tone, while I turn myself around, pulling my blankets with as a sign of protest. “No you silly goose. It`s already after 9am. We have to hurry, otherwise we miss out on breakfast.” Shocked by this news, I jump up and look around the dorm. All the beds are empty and most backpacks are perfectly packed and zipped, awaiting their own owners for a next adventure. Quickly I look at mine, but unfortunately there was no sign of Marry Poppins who magically organized my stuff. My backpack still looked like the after effect of a firework explosion. As a last form of confirmation I grab my phone, she shows the inevitable: it`s 10 minutes after 9.
It`s 9 O`clock in the morning and El Bolson is waking up. Fully packed we open the door of the hostel. A cool breeze freshens up our faces and clears our noses. We turn around one last time to shout a “Ciao! Suerte!” to everybody and then we`re fully ready to hit the road. It`s freezing cold. The morning mist has left a silver glance on the grass in the park. It`s about 2 kilometer walk to the beginning of the highway. We quicken up the pace to warm ourselves up. The heavier we breath, the more steam appears from our mouths. As two walking locomotives we pass the gas station. I turn around and start walking backwards. Pretending I have done this trick already a thousand times I put my right thumb in the air and start moving it up and down.
An old Volkswagen pulls over. The poor car is clearly on one of his last drives. The window of the passenger’s seat is turned winded down and two young blokes smile at us with their charming yellow teeth. “Where are you guys going?” asks the driver.
“Excuse me madam, but the next bus to Lago Hermoso is leaving in 6 hours.” I raise my eyebrows. “…. 6 hours?! And how am I supposed to make a hike around the lake if I arrive there at 5pm?’ The attendant looks back with the unimpressed facial expression which resembled the look of a zombie. “Again, I`m sorry madam, but it`s low season. May I suggest you take a taxi down? So you can enjoy this sunny day down at the lake. Goodbye!” And with a big `slam` he shuts down the window to start his low season siesta. “What do we do now?’ I ask Grant, a bit disappointment by the fact we might not be able to go on a hike today. “We could try hitchhiking down.
After a burn-out it was time for a change. I quit my job, sold my stuff and bought a one-way ticket to the Dominican Republic. What was supposed to be a 4 month adventure turned into 2,5 years and counting......
Photo by: Vanessa Marques Barreto