17th December 2003 cont'd
Soon after leaving the Chilean border crossing, the route we had taken started to live up to its reputation as we met our first armadillo. Ed jumped out of the landy and followed it down the road to get a few pictures.
Not long afterwards we spotted lesser rheas running across the landscape in the distance. They were too far away and moving too fast to get on camera, but things were getting more interesting.
Within 30 minutes of leaving Chile, we reached the Argentinian crossing, again a small chalet building in the middle of nowhere. There was only one policeman there and the formalities didn't take too long. We took the opportunity to ask about third party insurance and driving regulations in Argentina and he informed us that third party insurance was obligatory. The best place to get this would be in Gobernador Gregores - a detour from our planned route, but we didn't want to get stopped and fined.
The only maps we had were a basic one the policeman had given us at the border and the even less detailed one in our guidebook. It wasn't long before we came to a junction and had no idea which way to go. Luckily there were some men working on the road and Sue went off to ask which route to take. They pointed us in the direction of Gobernador Gregores and we just had to trust this was indeed the correct way.
By this stage the road was getting worse - far rougher than the Carretera Austral - and our progress was relatively slow as a result. The landscape had started to change as well, with a very "wild west" feel to it.
As we continued on our way, we were getting pretty tired and started to think about where we would camp up for the night. It seemed unlikely now that we would make Gobernador Gregores until tomorrow. Unfortunately there seemed to be no obvious place to stop - the wind was still strong and there were no sheltered spots off the road. We were also still unsure as to our exact location and proximity to any settlements. We passed what appeared to be a smallholding with a Toyota Landcruiser parked outside. The couple next to the vehicle looked like westerners and after checking they hadn't broken down, and needed assistance, we asked them for directions. They confirmed we were on the right road and we went on our way.
Shortly afterwards we saw a sign for a hosteria - La Posada del Posadas - and decided to follow that and stay there for the night. It had been a long day. About twenty minutes later we reached the small settlement of Lago Posadas and pulled up outside the hosteria to find out about accommodation for the night. We were directed to a block of three chalets where the owner greeted us and settled us in. The chalet consisted of a large double room with TV and ensuite bathroom. It was absolutely immaculate. We arranged to have dinner later in the main building, a five minute walk away, and in the meantime took advantage of the amenities.
After a rest and a good clean up we walked over to the main building for dinner, looking forward to our first decent meal in a couple of days. The food was delicious - olives and marinated peppers for starters, followed by breaded veal escalopes, salad and bread and then finished off by fresh cherries. All washed down by our first bottle of Argentinian wine.
We weren't the only ones there. The German couple with the Toyota Landcruiser we had met that afternoon were also staying there for the night - only they were camping in their vehicle out the back. With access to a toilet and shower and the option of still being able to eat at the hosteria, this would have been a far cheaper alternative if we had known. Having said that, the wind had picked up again and our roof tent would have flapped like mad. The German couple had kitted their vehicle out in such a way as to be able to sleep in the back so they would not be bothered by the elements. We had a good chat with them over dinner about our respective trips.
By the time we left the hosteria to head back to the chalet the wind had become gale force and we struggled to walk in a straight line. Even the chalet building seemed to rock as we got inside. We just hoped it wasn't going to be this windy during our entire stay in Patagonia.