Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hitchhiking across Argentina.

From Paraguay I wanted to get for few days to Bolivia and from there I had to hurry to meet my sister and my cousin is south Peru. I would love to explore some corners of Paraguay, but I will have to do it next time. For now I decided to get to South Bolivia through Argentina and I wanted to hitchhike there.

I got surprised quite a bit on the border. The bus was full of local people and I was the only tourist and my luggage was the only one checked ;)

Argentina did not started to love me the first day. Since I wanted to stay in the country only for few days, I did not wanted to invest money in a proper road map, which for sure would have solved a bit of hazel. I decided to hitchhike through Argentina with my compass and the xero-copy of the lonely planet general map of north Argentina. This was a reason why the first hitchhiking spot, where I stayed for few hours was very unfortunate one. Luckily after few hours of waving, one car broke down next to my spot, and the driver advised me to take a local bus for few kilometers. I did it, and I found that my second hitchhiking place very crowded with local people, and still there was not too many cars heading in my direction. After next two hours of waiting, when only two local women were picked up, I decided to go further from the border by bus to the city Formosa. I reached it in the late afternoon and I had few possibilities: to find a room for a night and start hitchhiking early in the morning, or try to get the lift before the sun set or getting a night bus in my direction for a short nap and leaving the bus at 5 am and starting to hitchhike from there. I decided to go for the last option.

Firstly I needed to exchange some dollars to local currency. I got to the city center and for more than one hour I searched for a bank to exchange my money. I failed completely, in this big city, which was a capital of the province, one can exchange the money only in the morning!!!  My only solution was to go to the gambling machine (cash machine) with my bank card. I was so happy that it worked this time, not like in Brazil.

Unfortunately on the way, my mp3 player fall in love in Argentina and decided to stay here on his own. I got a bit sad because this was my main tool to improve my Spanish, but than I realized that I am really sad because of loosing a stupid mp3 player, which probably would be used by someone else. I got really surprised how attached I got to mp3 player. I guess it was a good lesson that our roads slitted.

So, after getting money from the cash machine I was able to buy ticket for a five hours bus ride (from 12.30 am to 5.30 am) - for a short nap. My plan was to get out from the bus for sun rise in Los Lomitas in order to try the hitchhiking luck. The bus that I left was heading in my direction and I really would not have mind sleeping a bit longer but I really wanted to experience a bit Argentina and not just bus though it. Hitchhiking is much more interesting way of traveling than busing.

So I got out, I went for a walk thought Los Lomitas. After a coffee on the petrol station I started to walk to the town border. This was a national road. Going through kind of desert area, and there were not too many cars passing (one car ever 5 min), but I was still in the urban area and most of the cars were going very locally and my aim was to go several hundreds kilometers. Not too easy task. I was still walking, when I noticed white pickup, I waved and it stopped. In the car was only a driver, Lidia, an forty five years old female. We drove together for 4-5h all the time talking in Spanish. This was for sure my first long conversation in Spanish about literature and poetry!!! My driver was a teacher and a local writer. She wrote two novels and she told me the plot of those novels. She also shared with me some her favourite Argentinian poetry. I was not able to understand everything but I managed to get the essence. She is also a singer and at the end she sang me some Argentinian song. It was super cool hitch!!! Now we even keep in touch a bit on facebook and she invited me to visit her next time.

Unfortunately she reached her destination before reaching mine. She left me on the main road on a very western movie like desert. There were only some vultures in the air, some wind moving some sand on the road and it was baking hot. The cars were not coming in any direction so I found a piece of shadow and I contemplate the amazing scenery. The calm of the atmosphere remained me a bit the morning from the Amazing day in Laos.
Than the Bolivian women came from nowhere who also wanted to hitchhike to Bolivia, although she was heading to different part of Bolivia than me. In this place it was an event worth remembering if something showed up on the road. So, yes there was one local biker, who biked leisurely from east to west. Than there was a white truck heading in opposite direction. Than there was a red truck heading in our direction, but it was full. And than suddenly, after two hours of waiting, a small lorry appeared from one of the side roads. She stopped of course, and we both jumped at the back. After one hour we stopped to picked up two other hitchhikers, teachers from the local schools, who were dressed in LAB COATS, Apparently in some schools in Argentina they use lab coats as a school uniforms, and teachers also needs to wear it. SO COOL.

My lift at the back of the track took much longer than I expected. I was driving there for 4-5h. All my co-passengers left the vehicle earlier, and I could enjoy the whole back of the track for my self. I even red a bit and had short nap. Finally, we reached the crossroad where my lorry was turning South, and my destination, Bolivia was North. I got out and quite fast got another lift of one of the biggest optimist Chauffeur I have ever met. Apparently he had some serious health issues and few years ago he landed in hospital. But now he knows how to appreciate every minute of his new life. He told me that he never got energy when he was in the traffic jam, he tried to enjoy even this moment appreciating the sun, nature, and even the cars around him. In the late afternoon there were not many cars going to the border direction, so I jumped on the bus and got to the border late in the night.

I did not stay too long in Argentina, basically just two days. I did not see any touristic attraction. My first hitchhiking day was taught, the second one was a great experience during which I met few very interesting and good people, Now I want to re-visit this country next time, hopefully hitchhiking from North to South ;)

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