Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
March 20, 2008
Peoples, I am on a road trip!
I’m on my way to Mar de Plata, which is about 400 km away from Buenos Aires to the south. We decided to rent a car, drive with friends and have a beach bound adventure. So far, it’s been the scares of trying to work a stick shift…which is really scary when you’re heading 85 miles an hour and it starts to stall, the scams of rental companies, who can charge you $200 in a deposit before you get to SEE the car you rented, and towns full of annoying tourists who take all of the cheap hotel rooms. We’ve passed through Avellaneda, Mar de Ajo and San Clemente, the first couple of cities to the south. San Clemente has both a lighthouse, and a sea world type of aquarium.
The drive usually takes four hours, but took us about 7 hours with stops, because there was a ridiculous amount of traffic. Easter weekend is a five-day weekend this year, and the citizens of Buenos Aires do it big. There are parades inside and outside the city, cars everywhere, flights sold out, ferries and cars are booked until Sunday. Everybody said so, but I didn’t believe them. Easter weekend, from Ash Wednesday to the Memorial day on Monday are most celebrated holidays. Some would say bigger than Christmas.
Right now, I’m in Pinamar, a huge beach area, enjoying the sounds of the calm Atlantic seas, and the light of the full moon shining down on an empty beach. I love it when the beach is empty.
The weather is nice, and the roads are calm, because now it’s about 10:15 in the evening. Tomorrow, I set out for Mar de Plata, one of Argentina’s biggest beaches on the Eastern coast. Look out next week, so my adventures with dirty, muddy roads, police doing random breathalizer tests, and excellent, excellent waiters. It’s great to be out of the city!
March 24, 2008
The roadtrip – It started with a great idea. Let’s rent a car in Buenos Aires, and go wherever it takes us. The first problem was getting the car. Automatics are like mining for gold down here, and are usually double the price per day that a manual car would rent for. So we went with a manual shift. Then we found friends to drive for us. Then we got stuck in five hours of traffic on Thursday morning. Semana Santa is a HUGE vacation. let’s just say, any type of long weekend excites porteÃ±os, and everyone tries to leave the city as soon as possible. As early as Wednesday, cars were lined up for hours to leave the city.
The really long car ride was definitely really worth it. Once we were a few hours away, we got to see the beautiful, beautiful pampas.
In Dolores, we passed several lagoon-like areas, and were on our way to Pinamar. In Pinamar, we spent two nights, and our little rental car, a Fiat palio, died.To get it going, we would push, our driver would then start the car, and we would all jump inside. Talk about Flintstone’s style!
It refused to start, and two mechanics later, we learned that the battery was dead, and replacing was the only way to get back to Buenos aires.
Replacing it…took a while. And the mechanic didn’t really want to be bothered with writing an explanation for the replacement.
We moved steadily along to valeria and villa gesell, obscure beach areas with beautiful sunrises, and lovely weather. Villa Gesell (Pronounced Hey-sell) is a quaint little beach town about 20 minutes south of Pinamar. I loved it. Villa Gesell was worth all the troubles of travel. I don’t think I’ve slept so well since I got to Buenos aires. No noise, no buses, no cars. That is how life is supposed to be. Quiet and Calm.
After all the struggles, I see why people fight traffic, and now protesters in the countryside, to get out of the city. More details and pictures to follow.
After we came back, I had some really bad chest and stomach pain. Doctor Moon (his name is ridiculous, but he’s well qualified) told me that I got salmonella poisoning, probably on Thursday or Friday, while we were in pinamar. He prescribed me 1000 mg of ciproflaxcine everyday for 10 days or until I feel better. I’d be more nervous, but he said, and I quote “i mean, you haven’t died yet, so I don’t think the salmonella is going to kill you”.