Not an awful lot to write home about !
I checked and found the park was still closed (they obviously have a lot of cleaning up to do after the rain, even though it is clear blue skies now), so I decided to go and explore Villa Ventana.
As I crossed the camp site I saw a couple of bikes with German plates, and went over for a chat. Bea and Helle – They have been on the road for 3 or 4 years, and have crossed Russia, come down through Asia, round the eastern half of Australia, New Zealand, and are now working their way up to Alaska. Makes my trip look like kindergarten in comparison, especially since they are on 20 year old bikes ! But had a great chat with them…
All the roads in Villa Ventana are dirt, and after crossing the bridge where the fence is all bent over from the water flow, some of the roads I walked up were almost totally washed away. But that aside, Villa Ventana is a great little town – Lots of the houses are obviously weekenders for people who live in BA, and are shut up tight with wooden shutters across the windows. There are also many Cabanas – Cottages that are for rent. Some of the little cottages are almost English – except that many of them are made from logs ! But they have lovely little gardens and are nestling in the trees. There is a lot of pampas grass too – But only some of the English folk can comment on whether that has the same meaning over here !!
I walked up round the SW side of the town, in search of a Museum that was detailed on my map. It was a very pleasant walk up there – some 2 kms from the camp site – but unfortunately when I got there it was closed ! They really do have funny opening hours over here, especially considering this was a weekend when lots of people were visiting ! But the scenery as I walked up the hill was lovely, and more than made up for it being closed.
I then wandered back through the little town, where a few restaurants were still open and serving lunch, but I decided to head back to the camp site and have my own lunch with some fresh crispy bread rolls that I had bought from the bakery as I passed it earlier. By the time I got back to the van, it was some 5 hours after I had left, and I was quite pooped, so after my lunch rolls (which were rather good!), I pulled one of the mattresses out of the car, laid it on the grass under a tree, and fell asleep while trying to read my book ! A great way to pass a warm sunny Saturday afternoon, lying on the banks of a river, snoozing.
Later, I did a few chores around the “house”, before having a shower while the hot water was on (only from 5 pm to 9 pm !), having my supper, and then heading to bed to read my book.
The next morning I was up and at it quite early after a good 8 hours sleep, and headed out through the washed out streets of Villa Ventana back to the main road, and heading on across the pampas to Azul. I have to admit that the next couple of days have been fairly ho hum – The land is just flat, and very much the breadbasket of Argentina – A lot of cattle and sheep, a lot of crops, and a lot of sunflowers ! But it is very hard to take photographs of it – It is just flat !!
During the day I had passed a Swiss registered Land Rover that I had seen a couple of times recently, and when I pulled into the Azul camp site at about 6 pm, they were already there. During the day I had made a detour south to a town called Tandil, which the guide book said was quite interesting. I spent an hour driving around it, but found very little of interest – I wonder sometimes where these guidebook writers get their information, because if often appears that they have obviously never actually been to the town they are writing about ! But that detour meant the Land Rover arrived in Azul before I did !
I went over and introduced myself, Michael and Simone, and they have been on the road for a couple of years on a similar route to ours. They too are about to go home, and we spent a very pleasant evening over a bottle of wine, sorting out the problems of the world. Funnily enough, Michael’s cousin is someone I knew in the oil field in Brisbane / New Guinea when I was working down there – Small world !
It is very interesting that as I meet other people who have done the same trip as myself (even through some may have done it quicker or slower), that after all the fantastic sights and non stop experiences of the past months, most people are agreeing that this part of the trip, up through the pampas with no great sights to see, is becoming really difficult, and people are "ready to go home". Not that there is anything wrong with this part of S America - It is just that it pales a little compared to all the non stop excitement of the Andes and glaciers and mountains.
During the night, a dog woke me up with his barking at 2 am – He was just standing right outside the van, barking non stop. Barking dogs are always an issue in this part of the world, but this one was just unbelievable. I eventually had to get up, get out of the van, and chase him away by flicking a towel at him – And of course, after that I was not able to get back to sleep for quite a while !! Grrrrrr.
Packed up and showered, and after talking with Michael and Simone decided to take an easy day today rather than trying to push through Buenos Aires late on a Monday. So I only drove about 250 kms today to a place called Lobos, where there is a big lake with a very nice (and very extensive) camp site – It appears that there is only one other couple in the place apart from me ! But today I did not take a single photograph, so apart from a couple in the camp site, there is nothing. It really is pointless to be taking photos of all this flat pampa – It is one thing to see it and appreciate its vastness, but quite another to take somewhat meaningless photos of it. It’s a bit like crossing the Nullarbor – One or two photos tells the whole story !!
So tomorrow I intend to push through Buenos Aires, and try to get through to somewhere on its northern side before it is time to find a place to stop. Haven’t been in a sizable city since I left Santiago 2 months ago, so I will have to put my thinking cap on as I head into traffic lights and bust streets !!