Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ruta 40

Part of the adventure of traveling is figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B. On our latest vacation, it involved the Ruta 40. It has been said that it is one of the world's greatest, yet most desolate stretches of road. It is Argentina's longest road; 3,107 miles long, passing through 11 provinces, 18 rivers, and only half of it is paved. Outside of South American travel gurus and Che Guevara fans, most people have never heard of it.

It is desolate. And it is windy. Really, really windy. The yellow landscape you see below is what we saw, almost all we saw, for two 12-hour days riding on a bus. Oh, and we did see some guanacos (same family as the llama) every once in a while.
This was close to the end of Day 1, when the pavement ended, and the dirt road began. The bus company we went with divided the trip into two days, with a night spent in a small, incredibly windy town called Perito Moreno. The town was ridiculously small; we were wondering what in the world the people who live there could possibly do for a living. Almost all of day two was on gravel, with a dusty bus, whose windows were not exactly sealed well, without a bathroom in the back. Some of the "bathroom stops" did not actually involve bathrooms but a few bushes and trees to block the wind.

It was two days of seeing a lot of the same (we also did a tour the morning of day 2, which Jesse will talk about in a later post). The Ruta made me appreciative for the modern highway systems of North America, but at the same time, a bit nostalgic for all the adventure left behind when we modernize, change, and transform classic, ancient journeys and turn them into efficient, tourist machines. I'd like to go back 40 years and travel along la cuarenta back then; it must have been the most desolate stretch of road imaginable, the type of road that makes you do a little soul-searching.

If you would like more information on the ruta 40, the following websites have some info.
The first link has one journalist's trip along la cuarenta, although he did not travel the same section that we did. His journey was a little bit easier!
And if you are interested in factual information, wikipedia site
Finally, one last person's experience on the road; he writes a bit more eloquently than I.

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