Day One With Our Campervan – Buenos Aires to Tornquist

Today, the first official day of our new free life, was marked by poor time management. And don’t you worry, I can hear y’all rolling your eyes, shouting BUT YOU’VE BEEN TRAVELLING FOR ALMOST 9 MONTHS AND HAVEN’T WORKED IN LONGER!!

We slept-in…we woke up at 10am. A good sign, on the one hand, that our van stays dark and cool and quiet. But it was also a sign that we really need to utilize our alarms again — something we try to avoid unless we have an early morning bus to catch and generally don’t need because South Americans have little concept of shared space — if we ever want to get going at a reasonable hour. 

Now, ever since we entered Chile, 10am wake ups have been pretty normal. But we had about 6 hours of driving to do, so a lot, and we didn’t want to roll up at a camp site in the dark. So we should have set off way earlier. Like 8.

But hey-ho. 

We made a bee-line for the campground exit at 10:40am and headed to Wal-Mart (yep, they have them in Argentina) to pick up supplies for our adventure. With a bill of about 1,300 pesos ($180 CAD) and not $180 worth of stuff (thanks stupid inflation, you asshole), we set off on our next task: shoving food in every nook and cranny in our van. Space is at a premuim in old Peppy, let me tell you.

Now it’s about 12:40pm and we’re ready to hit the open road. And open this dang road was. It was flat and full of cows for the WHOLE DAY. Heeeeyyyy Argentinian beef industry, I see you. 

We saw nothing interesting – expect for the fact that I think cows are adorable and interesting… To make the flatness a bit worse, it was raining from morning to when we went to bed- alternating between a horrible drizzle and simply pissing it down. 

Although actually, we did see some GIANT birds which shocked the crap out of me and Matt at their first appearence. I don’t know what it was…and I didn’t get a picture for you, but I wish I couldn’ve. It was like a HUGE heron or something from another planet hanging out in all the cow pastures.  

A little bit about our route….we were driving from the outskirts of Buenos Aires to a tiny, one-well-illuminated- street town called Tornquist. The plan was to camp in Tornquist at a campground because there are some pretty hills there. We could hike for a bit or whatever once we got there. A little rain couldn’t deter us.

However…as the day worn on, it was getting later and later. (Obviously!! I can hear you shouting.) Our 6 hour drive was turning into 7 hours…then 8, then 9, then 10.

It was taking so long. 

And we never even stopped for food – t’was a day of peanut butter and nothing sandwiches follwed by peanuts and chocolate and bread-y things and I don’t know how we didn’t starve. It actually wasn’t bad though…it was the food of freedom, after all!

So finally it’s 8pm and we’re at a pretty nice gas statio, topping up our gas for the 3rd time, debating about whether we should continue on our just camp at the gas station for the night. 

That my friends, is the ultimate freedom: being able to sleep WHERE YOU WANT/NEED/AT A GAS STATION CAUASE THEY HAVE A BATHROOM cause your whole house is with you.

 We decide to push on because:

  1. It’s still light out and we’re optimistic that we can drive 200km  (or whatever, nobody was counting anymore) in 40 mins beca about 80 km an hour average  tells us so (??)
  2. There’s no wifi, we’re not tired, and have been told/basically promised there’s wifi at every campsite and we don’t want to sit in a gas station starting at the roof of our van
  3. Subconsciously we’re both afraid that if we turn our little butane burned on to cook dinner we’ll blow the gas station – and us – up

Neither of us talk about number 3. That. We don’t have to. Canada trained us to be terrified of any kind of flame at gas stations.

And so we drive. For a million more kilometers.

And by we, I mean Matt. Because I can’t drive standard, and EVERY CAR IN SOUTH AMERICA IS STANDARD. For our readers from not Canada…we call manual transmissions “standard”.

I’m an automatic gal all the way…and by virtue of that, also a permanent passenger who gets to be chauffered around Patagonia by her husband.  😀 Lucky me ’cause I hate driving!

Now that we’ve detoured here, let’s get back to our journey.

We roll up in the pitch black raining mess of 10:00pm at some random national park. We can’t see ANYTHING through the rain, save for a sign for pizza restaurant. Matt gets out to ask someone where the campsite is…it should be right around there but we can’t see anything.

In the dark and in the rain, he gets a loud knock at the window and a wag of the finger from the guy. Basically, “get off my property”. 

Thanks for the help! But I guess that’s what you should expect from a person who keeps his dog outside in the rain. 

So, we carry on a bit further into the national park and see a sign for a fancy hotel. Great, we can ask in there! 

The hotel was fancy!! We pull up and a nice, friendly waiter in the hotel restaurant tells us there’s a campsite 500m down the road. We’re nearly there. 

It’s around 10:30 at night now. We’re pretty tired and hungry.

We drive on and see the sign for the camping. It’s a long, windy driveway through some giant gates, similar to those found surrounding National Trust estates in the UK. We drive up, park, knock on the door and a voice comes from behind us. 

Unfortunately, we had failed to see the group of 40 kids who were here on some kind of school trip. They were in the dining area eating dinner (at 11pm because Argentina is weird like that). Their teacher told us the campsite was closed for their use only. 

We only had one choice. 


our first night was spent with a field on one side and a factory on the other
We found a decent enough place, with a field on one side and a factory on the other, parked, made peanut butter sandwiches (again), brushed our teeth, and went to sleep. 

It was nearly midnight. 

– Cyn and Matt

650 km – rain – 10ish hours

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