Saturday, 7 March 2015

0222 Pico Truncado to Camerones

5th March 2015
Wind, dust, wind, dust – Did I mention the wind and dust yet ?

Yes, I found out this morning that I was about 40 kms south of a place called Pico Truncado, and I am very glad I was that far short of it when I stopped !  Now, I am not sure, but I think of Pico as meaning a Stick, and Truncado as being Shortened, so I reckon in English it was called Shortened Stick.  And when I saw it, I think that is a very generous name for such a terrible place (Mucho apologies to any residents of Pico Truncado who may be reading this !!). But the streets were both gravel and filthy, the houses were not quite “designer” homes, the wind was blowing dust everywhere, and right beside the main road was the local tip with a digger pushing a car body into the pile of all the other refuse, scavenging dogs everywhere, and all the paper from the tip was blowing everywhere for miles in the high winds.  Sorry, but I just cannot recommend it as  somewhere where one would choose to stop to buy an empanada, let alone send a vacation there !!

When I woke up the wind was still blowing, and that was to continue all day, so I set off down the road quite early.

The reason for a lot of the people living round here is oil.  I am told that the locals around Comodoro Rivadavia  were drilling for water a few years ago, and struck oil – And they have been frantically drilling in the area ever since – With quite a lot of success.  So donkey pumps are everywhere, nodding their insect-like heads and relentlessly pumping the oil out of the ground.  And what is quite odd is that the pumps are
often on top of dirt mounds that will eventually be moved or erode, causing major problems, whereas if they had just drilled the well 10 metres away, they could have done it all at ground level.  Most odd.  It all looks a bit like West Texas in 1920 or so – Very simple little one-stand derricks, many just left sitting beside the road, and now hundreds of pumps nodding away.  And the towns have obviously grown rapidly (and haphazardly) in order to supply the labour, so none of them are really attractive !

There is even a statue of a giant oil worker in a hard hat turning a valve on an oil pipeline in the middle of a roundabout – I think that was in Caleta Olivia.  From there you drive on round quite a beautiful coast – Except the wind was just blowing so hard that much of the time you were driving through clouds of sand and dust that was
blowing across the road, and visibility was poor just from the amount of sand in the air.  This got worse after Rada Tilly where you just had to keep your windows shut all the time.  I was sneezing almost continuously, and there was a steady build up of dust in the car even with the windows shut !   I filled up with fuel in Comodoro, and found a supermercado where I tried to buy some supplies, but the shelves were half empty.  On the way out I passed a roadside “Oil Museum” that was surrounded by a wire fence, and you can see in the pics the kind of simple derricks they use – I couldn’t stop to investigate because they had forgotten to provide an area where you can pull off !!

Leaving town, as a contrast to all the old oil equipment, there is a giant turbine blade concreted in beside the road as a statue to modern renewable energy technology – But ironically, despite all the wind in this part of the world, I only saw about 20 wind turbines all day !  Maybe the wind is too strong for them ?  Maybe there were hundreds hidden over the hill out of my sight ?  Whatever – They need to get more wind turbines in this part of the world !!

From Comodoro one drives out over windswept plains for about 3 hours, called The Pampa de Salamanca.  The wind is blowing across this pampa at 90 degrees to the road, so one constantly has to make fairly major steering adjustments just to stay in
your lane.  Then a semi trailer passes you going the other way, and not only do you have to be really alert to account for the momentary lack of cross wind in order to avoid being sucked across the road, but the wind change even makes the bonnet want to lift up, as well as the pop top !  Quite unnerving, and I was continually hoping that the Toyota design engineers had got the bonnet catch design right !  In addition to the wind, and because the tarmac road surface is fairly low technology, there are deep ruts in the road surface from all the heavy trucks, sometimes several inches deep, and if you don’t stay in the rut completely, it grabs the side of the tyres and tries to pull you to the side !  All makes for an interesting drive, and one is certainly not in danger of falling asleep at the wheel !

The supermercado had no beer when I had stopped in Comodoro, so as I am planning to be out in a National Park for a few days, I stopped in a YPF gas station at Garayalde to get some. As I am pulling into a parking spot, an Italian 100 series Landcruiser with a roof top tent pulls in beside me.  They have a really nice “Expedicion Andina” sticker on their doors, so naturally we start chatting.  They are Maurizio and Carolina and are
from Venice, and are on a 4 month trip because both are still working and have to get back.  Maurizio is a harbour pilot (I think – Something to do with boats anyway) in Venice, and Carolina is a graphic designer – It was she who designed the great door stickers they have !!   We had a long chat and it turns out their Landcruiser was made for the Middle East market, and has long range fuel tanks and several other accessories specially for that market.  Anyway, it was great talking with Maurizio and Carolina, and I look forward to coming to see you again in Venice when I get to Europe !

I then found that the petrol station had no cerveza – but no problem – If I hadn’t stopped I wouldn’t have met Maurizio and Carolina !!

Shortly after Garayalde I turned off on Ruta 30 to Camerones – I had been told it was really nice down there, so off I went.  I pass lots more of those small grouse like birds on the road, and then arrive in Camerones just after 5 pm – Perfect timing for a stop.  I knew there was a camp site there from iOverlander, so followed the trail down to the water front through this delightful sleepy little town.  I stop at the shop in the gas station where they have some cerveza, have a chat with the owner about life in general, and then continued down to the camp site which is right on the water front.  And as I pull in, who is sitting there having a beer but Joel and Brigitte, my French amis !! Xavier and Elena had already left to drive up the coast another 1-2 hours, but I was too tired for that, and when I said I was staying, Joel and Bridget decided to stay also. 

We bought some camerones (prawns) from the shop – Hey, when you are in a town called Camerones, you eat camerones !! – 70 pesos for a kilo of BIG headless prawns.  That is about $5 US – not a bad price !  So we set up camp, met an Austrian couple in yet another German Toms Toyota camper conversion, and had camerones (that I cooked in butterand garlic !), some of Brigitte's Chicken Provencale (using Argentinian Pollo !!), and as usual, local red wine.  Yet another very pleasant evening !!

Pics are here :-


1 comment:

  1. The prawns sound as tho' they were great....hopefully some beer as an accompaniment!!