Day 200 – El Zampal, AR to San Martin de Los Andes, AG

Day 200 – El Zampal, AR to San Martin de Los Andes, AG       03/09/11      Mileage: 397

I lingered a bit in camp this morning to write a bit for the blog and enjoy the nice setting over a morning coffee.

Packed and rolling south on the dirt I recall laughing inside my helmet at just how fortunate I am to be right here right now….man I’m lucky bastard. The scenery was great and always changing and eventually I hit the pavement again which allowed me to ramp up the pace.

I used the last of my pesos to buy gas in a small town I passed by…enough for around 2 gallons. I was now out of money again until I can find someplace to change my dollars, which I figured I could do at Las Lajas or at worst Zapala.

Nothing but skin and bones….  Actually, that hide might make a nice rug…

 Well, when I arrived in Las Lajas the bank was closed (I guess bankers keep the same shity hours everywhere) and all the businesses appeared to be closed…maybe the power was out…not sure, but the place was half deserted. My next chance was Zapala which turned out to be a half descent sized town. I went straight to the bank but it had closed at 1pm…despite the fact that it was 3pm and still FULL of people. Those poor fookers have been in there waiting for at least 2 hours now! WTF?

Here’s a picture of the “closed” bank and all the people waiting and waiting….crazy.

I asked a nice gentleman in a suit where I could find another bank, money changer….anywhere that would change dollars. He said I could try the gas station, but he didn’t think they would either. He offered to change what he had on him which was a nice gesture, but he barely had enough for 1 tank of gas, so I thanked him and politely declined. I went across the street to a restaurant and as luck would have it he would take and change dollars…sweet! So I had a lite lunch and paid with my crisp $100 I’ve been carrying from the motherland. So now with a full belly and half full wallet, I set off to get gas. The first gas station was out of gas, and so was the second. So I was told there was one other gas station in town, and when I arrived…this is what I saw…

Yes folks, that is what an hour and 15 minute gas line looks like. And no, this picture is not some third world banana republic or the US in the 1970’s, this is modern day Argentina. WTF?! It’s weird, some towns seem to have plenty of gas, others almost none…haven’t figured that one out yet. So now with a full tank to burn, I continued south battling the west winds the entire time.

I rolled through the quaint town of Junin de los Andes and then I was on the hunt for a stealth campsite. It proved pretty hard to find as there were cattle fences that ran on both sides of the road…or I would have just ridden off into the bush. I kept rolling and searching and eventually came to the super cool lakeside town of San Martin de los Andes. Wow, what a great little town…too bad I had to roll through without stopping. Fortunately a few miles further I found a descent little stealth spot just off the road. Tomorrow it’s on to San Carlos de Bariloche where I’m going to splurge on a room and have a long overdue shower.

Parting shot: Rolling in the twilight….

8 Responses to Day 200 – El Zampal, AR to San Martin de Los Andes, AG

  1. Becki Anderson says:

    Wow…I just had a Global moment ….”WTF with the gas “.. is right~good question… that being said, I must say, the bottom of the world looks alot like the top! Are you tired of the road yet?

    • Lenny says:

      Hi Becki!!

      The bottom does look a lot like the top, you’re right…but I like the people at the top much better… 🙂

      How are you and Scott (and Glenn)!? What’s new with you guys? All is well here of course…still enjoying the road and looking forward to getting all the way to the bottom!



  2. Lynn Hilliard says:

    Never forget just how lucky you are, Lenny. In 1965 when I drove cross country for the first time we came to a town called Gremmling (sp??) CO. To this day I can remember how sweet the air smelled and what an impact that had. Some things just stay with you no matter what and now all these images will be with you. Sweet!

    • Lenny says:

      That’s funny…I have been through Kremmling many times myself, and that is a great little town. Yeah, I’m fortunate for sure and don’t (or at least try) not to take any of this for granted… 🙂

  3. Bine says:

    Hi Lenny,

    let me know when you are planing to be in Buenos Aires…I have friends there from NYC. Maybe you remember Helena from Sweden and her husband Gustavo, diplomat from Argentina.

    Xoxo, Bine

  4. aqueel suleman says:

    also wondering about currency. how much local currency do you think is good to carry? how much USD do you think is good to carry? do you use ATMs/banks/western union/etc to get money or just carry a good bit?

    • Lenny says:

      I use ATM’s in every country and only change a small amount into local currency at the border for border fee’s and some gas. I would have a stash of US dollars for emergencies….in large and small bills. I wouldn’t bring a ton of cash though, but enough to last you maybe two weeks or so in a pinch. You can replenish your supply of US dollars in El Salvador, Panama and Ecuador as they all use US dollars as their national currency. Other countries, like Bolivia, have ATM’s that also spit out US dollars in addition to local currency, so sometimes that is an option.

      If you go to Bolivia, make sure you have exactly $135 in crisp, clean US dollars as that is the only way to pay for the visa.



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