Argentina

Goodbye gun (Drive day 240: Feb 24th, 2004)

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We leave the city and head to the Tierra Del Fuego National Park with the gun still hidden in its secret compartment under the camper’s floorboards. We set up camp and hike past grass covered shell mounds created by the Yamana.

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At the shoreline of the Beagle Channel the skies part in a moment of epiphany. We are at the end of the world and I can start again. I run back to the camper and return with a bottle of Argentinean champagne and the rusty pistol I have dragged through two continents. Gary pops the cork and I fling the gun as hard as I can. A heavy plunk and it is gone, sinking out of sight and out of my life. It might be the champagne, but I feel free, forgiven and new again. The light dips down behind the mountain peaks and closes a chapter I outgrew long ago.

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.

When in Tierra del Fuego, do as countless tourists do (Drive day 239: Feb 23rd, 2004)

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0223a.jpgThis town precedes every noun with “World’s southernmost…” but it hardly needs the marketing campaign. Ushuaia’s rough-and-tumble, penal colony history alone is fascinating enough. Factor in the title of most-scuttled-ships-to-collect-insurance and a rebellious pattern begins to take shape.  Still, no modern scandal compares to the fate of the Yamana Indians – wiped out by European diseases until only their mask-making heritage remains of this spiritually rich, phenomenally innovative indigenous culture. The whole land-of-fires (Tierra del Fuego) name? Credit the Yamana – surviving the cold by centering tribal life around constantly maintained, beachside fires. At least mankind hasn’t quite destroyed the diverse surviving animal species – they are celebrated in chartered tours by sea we just can’t resist.

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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.

Arriving in Ushuaia (Drive day 238: Feb 22nd, 2004)

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I feel particularly victorious after navigating Route 3 as driver, not passenger – Gary’s hand is still too swollen to grip a steering wheel. I give all credit to Difunta Corea for protecting our Ford since I took over the driving. She is just as popular this far south as she is where her body was discovered in the northwestern desert – down here her roadside shrines seem excessively concerned with thirst but who am I to judge?

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I do not ask Difunta for more luck than I deserve, however.  As you can see from the photograph I did not back into our spot at tonight’s campground; my confidence does not extend to a rearview windowless maneuver overlooking the end of the world.

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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.

Magellan Strait (Drive day 237: Feb 21st, 2004)

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At last we reach the body of water separating most of Argentina from the Southern tip. We will cross on a ferry far more substantial than the last one we subjected ourselves too in Bolivia.

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It’s calm and serene today, but the artic wind has been known to whip the water into a frenzy called a Williwaw. The passage was feared even before Magellan’s famous voyage in 1520 and Darwin’s passage through it on the Beagle – navigators detested its stiff westerlies and viscous currents. But over time its reputation has diminished to the point where some fools even swim across. I’ll just look over the rails and stay dry, thanks anyway.

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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.

Rio Gallegos (Drive day 236: Feb 20th, 2004)

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If the puma don’t get the sheep this town is where they end up and become mutton. It’s the first less-than-lovely place we’ve found so far in Argentina, which probably explains why we can find primo camp spots with no other visitors in sight. We have to hunt down the keeper of the keys to tour the town’s railway museum – Rio Gallegos boasts the southernmost railroad track in the world. I want to be a town booster, but in truth it creeps me out.

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I’m not alone. This was the place Magellan wanted his fleet to winter and when a couple of captains tried to sneak back to Spain – one of them got caught and stabbed to death. Then, just to discourage other attempts at mutiny, his body was drawn and quartered in front of the crew.

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.

Supercharged scarecrows (Drive Day 235: Feb 19th, 2004)

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Ranches are called estancias this far south, and to protect their sheep from wild puma predators Argentineans do not hesitate to make an example out of intruders. It’s a brutal juxtaposition with the natural beauty of the landscape and a reminder of just how tough these remote landowners have to be to coax a living from this barren landscape.

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It wasn’t always such a solitary place. Caves preserved near the private Estancia la Maria show hundreds of different stone age handprints from original peoples. The purpose of the paintings are long forgotten but it isn’t a stretch to imagine a similar warning to outsiders: keep away, we are many and you do not belong.

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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.

The power of wind (Drive Day 234: Feb 18th, 2004)

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Trees aren’t supposed to bend at the waist. But the fact that they do lies behind the first injury of our journey. We take a break from the road to work on some repairs and I hand Gary a hammer to pound a nail. The wind decides to weaponize it and Gary’s hand quickly swells to the size of a bear’s claw. He can’t drive so I have to maneuver the rig back into the same 60 mph+ winds to backtrack to the nearest town. I haven’t driven in six months and I can tell my nervous, clunky shifting is as painful to Gary as his hand. In Fitz Roy we find a hospital to get some Xrays. The staff apologizes over and over for making us wait two hours. The wind caused a five-car pileup on the highway and a surge in the ER. Gary ends up with a diagnosis of a severe sprain, an injection of pain killers and anti-inflammatories and a sling he’s supposed to wear for the next two weeks. The staff has no idea why we’re asking if they accept credit cards: medical care is free in Argentina, even for random Americans blown by with the wind.

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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.