It was another early morning start since for the next two days we have planned a massive drive covering approx. 1,400km between El Calafate and Bariloche. Parts of the drive need to be done on dirt roads on which the speed we are travelling with is limited. This will even extend the time needed to travel between both places.
We basically drove all day. You more or less sit in the truck, look out of the window and see the world passing by. The Patagonian landscape is so amazing that some of us do nothing else but look out of the window the whole day. Others spend time sleeping, playing cards, talking to each other, reading or listen to music. During the extensive travel during the last days I have discovered some albums on my iPod I was rarely listen to in the past and now catch up on it. I also experience my life is slowing down a bit, even when I’m not in the same place for more than 1-3 nights. It’s more the feeling I don’t need to do something / work on something at all times but can just be and enjoy my life.
When stopping for lunch there was such a strong wind that all our food and cooking equipment was about to be blown away so we needed to drive a few more meters and park between bushes slowing down the wind. It’s really incredible how strong the wind is here in Patagonia and how quickly the weather can change. It may happen you experience all four seasons in one day: sun, wind, rain and snow. There is even a street sign existing warning vehicles of exposed areas with strong wind. The sign is yellow and shows a palm tree which is bent by the wind. Nobody knows why they have chosen a palm tree since there are actually no palm trees in Patagonia.
While having our lunch we noticed one of our tires getting flat and our driver / mechanic Ross spent some time to change the tire. Since we couldn’t really help him Jurie, my fellow traveler from Japan, and I went for a walk ahead of the truck to get picked up by it a few minutes later.
At 5:30pm we arrived at the “Cueva de las Manos” (in English “Cave of the Hands”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site we have planned to visit. There are hourly tours and we managed to get on the one at 6pm. During the tour we saw a large number of hands painted at the wall of the caves in the area. The paintings are actually negative images meaning the hand was put on the wall and the paint was sprayed over it leaving a negative image on the wall. Most of the hands are left hands and this is most likely because the people making the painting used their strong right hand for spraying the paint. The painted hands are kind of interesting to see but are nothing I personally would get too excited about.
Since the slower travel on the dirt road and issues with the tire during lunch time we were running late. After we finished the tour around 8pm it started to get dark and we neither had dinner yet nor were we at the destination we were planning to camp in tonight. Our leader Anki gave us two options: either we drive two more hours to our planned camp, spend the night there and continue travelling the next morning or we drive through the whole night directly into Bariloche. All of us decided for the last option and so we got ready for a long night in the truck.
Before continuing the drive, Mollie, Diann and I had to prepare dinner for everyone. We had already expected a long driving day and therefore had not planned anything fancy. We prepared ravioli with tomato sauce and the challenging part about it was one of the cookers running out of gas so we needed to improvise a bit and serve people in stages. Luckily, we had a number of people helping us so we could cook, eat and be back on the road as quick as possible.