14th - 15th January 2004
Before leaving Viedma we found an internet cafe and checked emails again. Not many shipping companies had got back to us and we decided to go with Maersk. The quote was reasonable and we thought we couldn't go wrong with a household name.
By the time we left Viedma it was midday. We would not reach Buenos Aires today, but definitely by tomorrow, as there was no more sightseeing until BA. With the fast road, we planned on stopping at Tres Arroyos, along the RN3. As we reached the town, we were still 494km from Buenos Aires - one more days' drive.
Not knowing where to stop for the night (there was no reference in our guidebook to the town) we came across a hotel along the main road at the entrance to the town - Hotel Elegance. It looked nice from the outside and seemed to have plenty of parking. Again we were surprised at how cheap such a high class hotel was - only 95 Pesos/$28 for the night, including breakfast. We had difficulty parking the landy as although the car park was in the open air, there was a corrugated roof to protect the cars and the landy was too tall. Luckily there were a few spots directly outside the entrance where the staff park, completely uncovered, and the manager moved her car to let us park there.
The rooms were very luxurious with cable TV and there was also a small gym, outdoor heated pool and a good, reasonable restaurant where we ate that night. A great relaxing evening before our long drive the next day.
After breakfast we headed out to a garage to get the Weasel washed before arriving in Buenos Aires and then had a final check of our emails before heading off.
Driving into Buenos Aires was very stressful. It had been a really long, tiring and boring journey through the Pampa and as soon as we neared the city we were stopped by the police. As if it wasn't stressful enough trying to work out how on earth we were going to navigate ourselves around the huge city! It was the first time we had been stopped by the police in Argentina and we still remembered our rough time with the Police on the approach to Lima, Peru. He took a long time looking over our papers, asking us questions, and we felt sure he was poised for asking for some form of monetary gift. Even though we had the International Certificate of Motor Vehicles in Spanish, he still insisted on trying to decipher the English documents. Eventually he became so frustrated that he could understand none of it, that he just got bored and waived us on.
We decided to just head for the centre, using the Lonely Planet Guidebooks' map of Buenos Aires. We eventually worked out that we were approaching on the Autopista 9 de Julio, which then became the Avenida 9 de Julio. From here it was reasonably easy to work out where to go towards the main hotels. After stopping at a few to find out that they were either far too expensive, were full or had no parking nearby, we were almost giving up hope until we tried a small hotel - Hotel 8 de Octubre - that was only 60 pesos/$20 a night including breakfast with a secure, open air car park just one block away. It was by no means the best hotel in the world, but it would suit us for a couple of days whilst we got our bearings and started to finalise the shipping.
We sorted out the stuff we wanted to take into the hotel, parked up the Weasel and settled in before heading out for a quick meal. It had been a really long day and we were both shattered.