Paco's Argentina expedition
two weeks of living dangerously


Moreno, Argentina. April, 2009. The peak of the worst dengue fever epidemic in the history of the country. I am here to go agate hunting in the west of the country with my friend, Luis. Moreno seems like a pleasant place but I am warned of teenage gangs that will kill you for a dollar. Luis and his than-girlfriend and I had a lovely brunch at a grill on Sunday. It gave me a special look into the culture that I appreciated greatly. And the food was excellent.

Luis grilled steak for my first night. It's customary.
Because Luis smokes, we rode in the bicycle/smoking car. Earlier that year the train stopped with no explanation between stations and the riders set it on fire. What a trip.

This is the subway in Buenos Aires where I went to rent a car of sorts that ran on propane or gas.  Best beef I have eaten ever! After a few more stops were were crammed in like the cells in a honeycomb and someone tried to pick my pocket. Frotage everywhere.

The next set of pictures is in San Rafael in Mendoza province, which we reached after a 14-hour, death-defying trip across the four provinces Buenos Aires, La Pampa, San Luis, and Mendoza. More excellent beef on the way in San Luis. And I will suffer the consequences for saying this, but I don't believe I've ever been in a city with such a high percentage of beautiful women as in San Rafael.

Room I shared with Luis who smoked in the room and snored like a grizzly bear.

This next lake is near San Rafael.
Chronologically, this is where the agate hunting part came, but I put all that on another page - you'll see. I called this lake Lake UnPowell. There is a lot of water in the west of Argentina. Mendoza is beautiful. Many orchards and vineyards.

Luis needed to go back to Moreno, so he took the bus and I kept the car and tooled around solo for another ten days, visiting all four provinces that comprise Argentine Patagonia: Neuquen, Rio Negro, Chubut, and Santa Cruz. 

I didn't bring a telephoto lens. Those pink blips are flamingos.

The map showed this major north/south highway that runs along the foothills as paved - it was like this for 100 miles.
I spent a very interesting night in this small city of Chos Malal in the remote hinterlands of the Andean foothills. No one else spoke English. Had an amazing dinner at a traditional grill with entire animals roasting on spits and fabulous local fish. The goat was impossible to eat - I chewed on a piece for ten minutes and it never got smaller, just spongier. And it tastes like hair. But there was so much really good food. 

Then I reached the resort town of San Carlos de Bariloche in the Patagonian Province of Rio Negro, trout fishing in the summer and skiing in the winter. The lake is huge.

It is reminiscent of the 1950s in the US in some ways. I had a nice trout dinner at a fancy restaurant.

I stayed here. I ran into another American in town and we discussed where we were staying. He said his place was nice but expensive at $200 US a night. I said, "My place is $12." After Bariloche, I continued south. More beauty.

 After this I headed over to the coast and crossed a horrible, stinking windblown desert. The roads were terrible. I had to drive into the late night in high winds to find a place to sleep in Chubut Province, which is the Texas of Argentina, dominated by the oil industry. I stayed in the smelly port city of Comodoro Rivadavia.

From there I drove south into Santa Cruz Province and to their version of our Petrified Forest National Park.

in case one can't read

The museum was horribly inadequate for an area that contains the finest preserved plant fossils ever found.

rare fox sighting
Found a groovy old hotel in Caleta Olivia, a very nice small city on the coast. My car had its second flat tire in the morning. The roads are horrible, especially the 50-mile gravel road to the petrified forest that is made with sharp gravel the size of toasters.

This is a paved highway. Somebody forgot the road base.

All over the country are suffering, emaciated, sick dogs.

fossil shells on the beach

Some crappy flophouse on the drive back north. I read Travels with Charlie on the trip.
 click here for the agate hunt