That feeling of isolation turns out to be a mirage. When I wake up to use the campground outhouse in the morning, I almost step on a tent pitched under our camper steps during the night. It’s laughably bizarre – I’m afraid of waking whoever is inside and literally leap over two snoring campers. Gary figures they must be young people who were drunk when they arrived or newbies so afraid of wild animals that our camper seemed like protection.
It turns out that’s just what Argentineans do – it’s a communal, collegial culture and the assumption is that happy campers love company. Which is how we meet Yamil, a 24-year old aspiring musician and his med-school girlfriend Magali. We spend the entire day together: hiking, swimming, trading CDs, learning that Argentineans think the voiceover artist who does Homer Simpson in Spanish is much better than the American original.
I am suddenly acutely aware of how easy it is to become isolated traveling in a private vehicle in this wide-open country and of how much we would have missed if we did the American thing and stuck to ourselves. That mate-sharing thing? I don’t even wipe the straw anymore when its offered by our new compadres.
Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.