Why does Argentina have excellent infrastructure for transportation? With the exception of the vacation crowds in Valle Hermosa at the start of our trip, the roads have been in good condition and with light traffic, to none at all.
Why does Peru have one speed bump per kilometer between Puno and Desaguadero (! There were 77), while Argentina has clear roads with a circunvalacion, or ring road, around almost every city. The contrast is striking. In Peru you can make about 350 km per day, while in Argentina you can often travel 550 km in the same number of hours traveling. Why? In Chilecito, the ring road around the city is being completed and the highway widened to four lanes, even though the population is only around 50,000. In Barranca, Peru, a city of over 100,000 there is a ring road around half the city and traffic on the Panamerican highway is heavy all the time.
On a happier note, there has to be a story behind the old cars on the highway in Argentina. Renaults going back about 30 years are on the roads, and quite a few Willys Jeeps that disappeared from the US long ago. Granted, many of these vehicles are in truly terrible condition, the Willys Jeep with the best paint job I’ve seen was perched on top of a junk yard, yet many are still running.
There’s not a lot to see on the road from San Juan to Mendoza, though there’s definitely food for thought in the flood warning signs we passed. If the water on the highway registers on the flood marker, it is way too late for a person to drive through….
Details Feb. 1, 2015 Sunny, warm in San Juan, heading for the 90s F. Very good hotel breakfast. We planned to leave at 9 am, got all our things to the lobby, paid the bill, etc. and Jonathan went over to collect the car and it would not start. The starter motor turned over, but it wouldn’t start. We dug out the Alamo information and called the help number with the aid of the woman at the desk of the hotel. She was very helpful throughout. The agent in Buenos Aires said we’d left the lights on, which we hadn’t because there’s an alarm. After I told him three times, I passed the phone to the receptionist. He then said he would send someone from Mendoza—she pointed out there is a local Alamo office in San Juan. Finally, he said he’d contact the local guy and call us back. By the time he did that, I’d already called the local guy with the receptionist’s help and he was due to show up in a half hour. When I called him again after an hour he got all huffy about being busy with another client (his office is closed on Sundays), but he did show up, look at the car with Jonathan (the BA guy said we’d left the lights on), and when it didn’t start he loaded us up and took us to the San Juan airport to get a different car. It turned out ok, we got on the road by 11:30 am, and the Alamo agent will repair our vehicle and bring it to Mendoza.
I called Carolina, our contact in Mendoza and she assured us she could meet us a bit later, at 3pm. We arrived about 1:30 pm and though Carolina wasn’t there, her son Lautaro let us in. We also met a longer term renter, William, as he was going out. Our apartment is not at all like the photos, so I asked Carolina if we can move to one of the others. Apparently we can do that tomorrow. She was going to stop by but did not.
At 4 pm we walked down to the Plaza Independencia via Parque Italia, part of the system of five parks in the center of town. We ate late lunch at Café Bute on the main plaza, delicious mixed salad and plate of meat and cheese. The menu tried to explain what “Bute” means and it included so many words I’d need to look up in a dictionary and so much post-modern blather that I decided that “Bute”=”Beaut”, more or less. We walked home via the shady spots—there are huge sycamores watered by a series of canals along both sides of every block. After that we found the superbowl on TV, ok, narrated in Spanish, but it makes a nice end to the evening.