Peru, and Argentina
My 2017 trip
to South America resulted from a collision between my schedule
and the timing of my friend Silvio's latest project. I flew to
Santiago, Chile to travel in the RV he has spent two years building
on the frame of a Mercedes truck.
we didn't have a firm destination in mind, we ended up waiting
for a ghost in an abandoned saltpeter town in the Atacama Desert,
visiting hospitable strangers in their homes on the Chilean coast,
crossing into the high altitude ranges of Peru to Machu Picchu
where we helped the Argentinian government search for a missing
Argentine national, and finally daring the snow-choked Paso de
Jama into gaucho country in Northern Argentina. We crashed country
fairs, clambered through the ruins with tourists high on selfies,
salvaged goods from a truck that had gone over a bridge, and negotiated
for prices with village people.
On the entire
trip we were conscious that the motorhome was never far away,
with its shower and bathroom, water tanks and refrigerator, and
cooking stove and furnace. This is not so much about the hardships
of traveling as it is a report from the hidden corners of countries
that are only accessible when you travel by RV.
Brazil, and Argentina
My 2018 trip
to South America was meant to be much more than just a return
to the continent. Silvio had readied his RV for the three-country
excursion, and more importantly, planned particularly enticing
meetings with alligators and presidents.
in Buenos Aires we almost immediately crossed to Uruguay where
we met José "Pepe" Mujica and enjoyed the beach. Then we drove
north into Brazil where Silvio had promised tropical swamps and
alligators. After hundreds of kilometres crossing rich farmland
and marveling at the country's infrastructure, we came to the
pantanal region. The vast swamps of the pantanal were rich with
life, and although the tourist trade had slowed to a trickle,
we spent our time watching for the sudden animal through the trees
and listening for the prehistoric calls of birds.
abortive attempt to cross the Bolivian border and an equally effective
attempt at Paraguay, we photographed butterflies and coatis in
the world famous Iguazú Falls area, spent time with locals and
learned about police corruption and cross-border smuggling. Back
in northern Argentina we went against the advice of nearly everyone,
and set out to explore the poverty-stricken and forgotten provinces
of Formosa and Chaco before we turned south to Cordova and Sante
Fe. There we spent long days in the mountains before seeing the
cousins on our way back to Buenos Aires.
by motorhome meant that we were more versatile than most tourists.
We could pull over at remote vistas and extend a conversation
that otherwise would be cut short. We didn't require anything
other than the truck's shower and bathroom, water tanks and refrigerator,
and cooking stove and furnace. This is not so much a story about
the hardships of traveling as it is a report from the hidden corners
of countries that are only accessible when you travel by RV.