We didn’t get a chance to fully discover Argentina, as TianMa’s only serious breakdowns were in days dedicated for Argentine exploration. Still, we got a pretty good feel for this exaggerated land, as well as a taste of city life by spending over a month in Buenos Aires to wind down our South American adventure.

Argentina (and a tad of Uruguay)

Quick Summary

Time in Argentina: Jan 22 - Feb 7, 2010; Mar 7 - Mar 14, 2010; Apr 15 - May 26, 2010

Route: 2 weeks in the northwest from Tilcara through Salta and down to Cordoba and Mendoza; coming back a month later for a week on Ruta 40 (see Patagonia page); yet another month later, a 3-day 1000-mile drive through the the country to Buenos Aires, where we lived for a month (with short trips to Uruguay and Iguazu)

Food: beef and lamb as advertised (great quality at a great price! just be sure to get them cooked right since locals like meats too well done); deserts and ice cream very good (too sweet for us but high quality); pizzas, pastas and wine are not up to European standards; we were pleasantly surprised to find the best Asian supermarkets anywhere outside Asia in Buenos AIres’ small but great Chinatown

People: we happily made friends with a number of cool Argentines both here and elsewhere on our trip; welcoming, warm, polite and eager to show off their country to visitors; red-eyed (eat late and party even later - we couldn’t keep up)

Roads: extensive network of fast, high-quality national and provincial routes makes it easy and fun to drive anywhere in the country; unfortunately, signs are generally lacking so its a challenge to navigate; cheap gas and very cheap tolls; amazing gas stations with free wifi and other amenities all over; bad drivers; surprisingly, roads within cities are generally in bad condition and in many places outside Buenos Aires not even paved at all

Highlights: separate visits by Hui and Ognen’s mom; connecting with the VW kombi club; making friends and hanging out with them; living like “normal people” while renting an apartment in BsAs; seeing Iguazu in all it’s might; Perito Moreno Glacier; comfortably cruising and living in TianMa; visiting raspberry, goat and olive farms; joining the Argentina automobile association;

Low-lights: doing business in Argentina is very slow and inefficient (getting smallest things done can be a huge and frustrating waste of time); TianMa breaking down; figuring out how to ship TianMa to Africa, gnocchi

Impression: Argentina is a vast country, the sites are spread out, but the two top sites (Iguazu and Perito Moreno) are really worth the hype; we had fun once we adjusted our expectations to be realistic; it’s a great country for a roadtrip like ours; huge and vast but you can see most things of interest by just sticking to the Andes and a bit along the Atlantic; gets our award for most wireless country (just pop open a laptop anywhere and you’re likely to connect to an open network); a nice balance somewhere between a developing and developed country (pretty unique)

Argentina and Uruguay pictures to come