Monday, January 11, 2010

How to add two hours to your travel time without even trying

Just travel with us to a place we've never been before, on a road with little to no road signs.

Seriously, we went hundreds of kilometers at a stretch today without any signs indicating which route we were on.

Through a barren no-man's land, that in some places didn't even have scrubby little bushes or grass, just sand and rocks and white stuff that looked like snow but wasn't (it was salt).

Yes, we had maps. More than one. Maps are useless when roads are not marked.

We wove in and out of provinces, visiting one twice that we didn't want to go to even once. When we finally made it back into the province of Mendoza for the third (and final) time, and had to stop* for the third (and final) time, Ivan commented to the police officer that the roads were not very well marked. The officer smiled and said something about "involuntary tourism". Whatever that means.

Quite a bit of the road had been recently re-paved and improved so possibly they just haven't gotten the signs back up yet? But it was like that for a good portion of our trip, not just this province so we're not sure what to think.

Along with the nonexistent road signs, gas stations were few and far between -- like every 200 to 300 km. Six hours into the trip and about to run out of gas, the map from ACA (equivalent to AAA) indicated a gas station coming up but when we got there it was all fenced off and obviously under construction. We drove around without seeing any people but there were a couple vehicles so Ivan went in and learned the single gas pump outside the fence was indeed functional. Thank goodness! That was the lone gas station for miles and miles in any direction.

I can't remember EVER driving through such a desolate landscape. And that includes our time in Africa. Today we drove hundreds of kilometers without seeing a single person, dwelling or animal (other than birds).

All the photos I've seen of Mendoza have been of green hillsides, green vineyards, green parks.... looking forward to seeing some of that greenery in the coming week.

And we are definitely taking a different route home!

*Mendoza doesn't allow any fruit from other provinces to be brought in so at our first visual inspection we had to eat the apples we'd brought along (it was either that or throw them away). Fruit production is one of the main industries and they guard it carefully. Any kind of imported fruit has the potential of bringing bugs that could decimate the groves so the ban is STRICTLY enforced. We also had to drive slowly through some kind of spray that would kill anything on the exterior of the auto. 


rita said...

¡QuĂ© aventura!
Espero que mejore.

skoots1mom said...

good gravy what a glad you're all safe. My adventures in between Cancun and Cozumel sounded a lot like this...except we ran into a 'gang' who 'pretended' to be police officers for 'bribery' money to let us go after they pulled us over...sweat, unbuttoned shirts, submachine guns shoved in their pants, yes, they were an 'attractive force' for the community.
Continue to be safe...have a good time.

Mari said...

Glad you made it ok! It's kind of scary to drive so long without seeing anyone. The spray on the car is interesting. It makes sense but I've never heard of it being done.

SmallTownRunner said...

Very interesting. You are experiencing things I'd never have dreamed up.

Kathy said...

The couple that is staying with us is from Mendoza. They have shown us some lovely pictures of the city. I am sure once you get there you will enjoy the visit.

sara said...

this was supposed to be a relaxing vacation!!!

praying you hit that hill country soon!!