Ruta 40 – A serious of thoughts on an almost-stupid almost-29-hour journey from El Calafate to San Carlos de Bariloche

May 2014

The legendaria Ruta 40 they call it. I need to find out why. I’ve never been on the Route 66 in the USA but somehow from what I’ve seen here Ruta 40 invokes similar mysticism. There is the road and literally nothing on either side – just wide open space. No trees here, the ground is covered sparsely by stunted hay-like shrubbery making the entire terrain look mustard yellow. Here and there remnants of this morning’s flurries of rain and snow remain and they shine blue in the sunlight. The sky is bright blue again. How nice of the sun to return though I wish it had been as kind this morning as I visited the glacier. Cute wooly sheep graze the fenced areas and outside the fences, deer feed unworriedly, only raising their long necks to look up as my bus passes by.
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There’s something so calming about this near-desert terrain. My devices are all practically dead – my camera died at the glacier, my laptop has barely a couple of hours left, and likewise my Samsung and my iPhone. There’s no reception but it is atill nice to be here, here in the middle of nowhere, Argentina. I am left observing changes in the landscape, how the shrubbery has now turned purplish black, how there are now electrical transmission lines and pillars, how the sky is lilac with the setting sun.
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Despite my raging periods which continue to have the world’s best timing, I survived the night, the route had more stops through grey and seemingly ugly towns (we’re talking truck stop hookers, people). Now it’s morning, and we’re back on the open road again – this time on Ruta 26 which passes through the chubut province of Patagonia where there seems to be a bit more greenery. I’ve seen very healthy cows and horses, deer, emu and even a family of massive eagles (right by the cows so go figure).
I feel extremely dehydrated despite the 2 liter bottle of water beside me because I can’t trust my tiny bladder and there’s no way of knowing when the next stop will be. Sure there’s a toilet on the bus but I hate going there. That’s one thing I hate about long journeys. The other is hygiene, I just managed to brush my teeth over the tiny sink so I feel less like an ogre now . I used a wet wipe from an airline and then re moisturized myself. To think I’m about eleven hours away from a real bathroom is painful.
On the other hand, these several hours without anything to do except admire the trees are immensely peaceful (when they’re not playing apocalypto or Get the Gringo or some other gawdawful movie).
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Two nights ago, I arrived in el calafate after a delayed flight and an even more delayed airport transfer (because the driver forgot to mention the name of my hostel so I circled the entire town with him till he realised he had forgotten to drop me off). I was delighted at first to find that my hostel had a restaurant – so far my apartments and b&bs did not give me theuxury of eating in. Then I was told that the restaurant was only open during peak season so I had to fend for myself in the kitchen. How annoying. I needed to also find the bus station, sort out my glacier visit and bariloche ticket, and change money. So dinner was not the only excuse to explore the calafate town centre.
The guys at Taqsa Marga were more than helpful and I managed to sort out the trips without forking out 100$ for a taxi. They also let me pay in usd with a great exchange rate. Then I headed to la anonima for groceries. I opted for my easiest yet tasty weeknight dinner – avocados and sardines on toast, eschewing my complicated dressing for a simple lemon juice and chimmichurri seco. Score one for adaptation. Chimmichurri is a brilliant spice mix by the way. The hostel kitchen was quite frankly disgusting so I was happy that aside from the toasting, my delicious dinner was just assembly not cooking. The leftover bread, avocado and chimmichurri were my dinner last night and breakfast this morning.
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The lack of temperature control is annoying – they let the air outside cool the bus which is nice for a whole until it gets to freezing (it is snowing in places) , then they turn on the heat, let the bus go to boiling and repeat cycle. I’m either taking off or putting on things!
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Back on Ruta 40 now and snow covered mountains are on my left. It’s all quite stark and barren here and the ride seems so long even though there are “only” 6 hours left. I am starting to wonder why I did this and I wish it were as colorful as it was in the parque

nacional

de glaciares. I can only hope bariloche is worth the trouble and that I can eat better when I get there.

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Today’s my mom’s birthday, happy birthday mom !
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I’ve got two more nights in Argentina; then I have a whole day of travel again to get from bariloche to Lima. Thankfully Peru is a smaller country so my internal travels are shorter. Four to four and a half hours to go and I think I’m starting to lose my patience. I’d sleep but that would screw my sleep tonight. I wish this bus had wifi!
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Two more hours to go the scenery changed dramatically twice – the first time to snow covered mountains and fields just by the roadside and now to lush autumn foliage. The tree cover is rich here and I suspect similar to bariloche. It is all quite photogenic here except my camera has been dead a while!
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It’s raining cats and dogs and I think I will arrive at 8.45 instead of 7.30/8.00 pm. What’s another hour, huh? I can only hope my host’s parents find me or I’ll be stuck at the bus stop! What if it’s like this tomorrow? Fuck, why did I do this? I am so hungry!!

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Shotgun

There’s a mountaintop, that I’m dreaming off, if you need me, you know, where I’ll be

I’ll be riding shotgun, underneath the hot sun, feeling like a someone…

Okay I’m dreaming about a cliff where I was, not too long ago (six months ago to be precise). My body and soul crave a reset. Only two days ago, the email I was waiting for, for so long, apparated in my inbox just when I had written it off as being even more delayed than it already was. I read the twenty or so files, taking it all in. I dragged my finger across the touch screen of Ike’s laptop and made a rather commendable impression of my own signature. It was done. I would soon be employed. My start date? A whole stinkin year and three stinkin days from the day the two partners at my old firm asked me to coffee first thing in the AM and told me, before I had even gulped my first sip of water, that I was being made redundant.

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Bodak Yellow

So many feels. It has been a long few months of unemployment. The fun part was sporadic – short bursts, beautiful trips that Ike and I went on with friends or family or just the two of us. We went to Philippines, California, Singapore, South Africa (with new years in Ethiopia), Cambodia, Thailand, France, Indonesia (just Bali really) and a visit to India too (more on that in a bit). Traveling is always fun. It is the rest that wasn’t always fun, no, much of the rest was just unemployment. Plain ol’ esteem-sucking, cash-draining, fat-making, judgment-inviting unemployment. Continue reading

Previously on…

It has been a while since my last update but unfortunately, despite the long time gap, I am still unemployed. I was paid till end of October, and I worked on a short-term project between mid-November and mid-December that paid me some rent money so technically I would say I have been unemployed for about 3 months and change. Realistically it feels a lot longer.  Continue reading

I am back!

HOLY FUCKING SHITBALLS, HAS IT BEEN OVER TWO YEARS SINCE I LAST BLOGGED? I just tried to read that last post about hiring a stylist and I fell asleep after the first two paragraphs. BORING. Spoiler alert: I had a beautiful wedding, almost everything worked out okay (except that the videographer lost our wedding video, dipshit). The wedding was perfect, everybody was happy, the food was fucking delicious even if we only got to eat eighteen hours after anyone else had. And I never looked so beautiful in my life. Moving on!

(Oh and married life is great. It’s everything I ever wanted and also things I didn’t know I wanted. Now moving on!) Continue reading

The whole nine yards – part 2: how to not hire and then not fire a stylist

This is a bit of an awkward story to share. Several months ago, I reached out to a good friend and a fashion-forward one at that to help me with some recommendations on all things bridal – henna, lehengas, make up, hair, all that migraine-inducing stuff. She was prompt to reply and recommended that I get a stylist. I was open to the idea but quite frankly I don’t have an infinite budget so I was pretty honest about that. Nonetheless I got in touch with the woman she recommended on email. She seemed really nice and said she wanted to help even though she knew I would not be a high-revenue client.  Continue reading

the whole nine yards – part 1

Update: I just realised as I went to bed last night that I got all my math wrong. I’ve revised all the USD numbers below ….Most of them UPWARDS.
I really need to speak to someone about how the wedding preparations are coming along. I want to bore someone into a coma with the details. There is so much that has happened over the easter break and it has all been incredibly fun despite the mosquito bites, the raging heat and the sticker shock I got for every single thing or service that I acquired or tried to acquire in India.

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