After Facundo and I bid farewell I bought a little food and caught the public bus that was going to the exit of the town. In half of the time we were going through various suburban neighbourhoods with sordid houses and streets, white because of the dust that the wind was drifting away day and night. At the exit there were two hitch-hikers – they’ve been waiting through the whole morning. I gave them some water because they were horribly thirsty. I didn’t like the place at all – it was extraordinary disty and there were more cars passing than they were supposed to because most of them were going to one of the suburban neighbourhoods. That’s why I walked for a kilometer and stood straight on the last round crossing. The clouds on the sky were a true joy for my overburnt face. I was prepared for a long waiting but only half an hour later a man stopped. He could drive me 30 kilometers ahead, by one crossing where the road is divided in two parts. But then he told me he could go on an alternative way and I decided to go on about 200 kilometers with him. Only ten kilometers after Bahia Blanca there is a post where all the cars are being checked for fruits and meat. This is something like an entrance to Patagonia and such products are not allowed to be imported. Even though the control was not especially drastic and the two oranges I have hidden at Buenos Aires remained untouched.

Soon the landscape began to change. I mean it almost began to change. It remained flat but all signs of farms disappeared – there were no cows, neithere tere were fields or windpumps. Nothing but short bushes that covered the wilderness. And the temperature kept on rising with every passed kilometer. 25, 27, 30, 32… when we reached the turn-off where I was supposed to get down in order to hitch-hike at southern direction the thermometer indicated 35 degrees. It was slightly cloudy and thanks to the wind the heat did not feel so strong. The man was working at a rent-a-car company and said that he was transporting the car to Neuquen where he would replace it with another one and an hour later he would pass by here again in the opposite direction.

I wrapped a T-shirt around my head, I put on a shirt with long sleeves and began to wait. The passing cars were very few and most of them were passing me by even without paying attention. I was wondering already – how could you pass by someone who was standing among the waste land, almost 30 kilometers away from the nearest populated place and on such a distance from the nearest source of water. At least I wouldn’t leave anyone there.

One hour later a truck stopped and picked me up. There was not a second seat but that was not a problem at all. Raul was going to Treleu and that is 50 kilometers away from Puerto Madrin, which was my goal. What a luck – these are over 400 kilometers. Over 400 kilometers of wilderness. I mean, wild wild wilderness. The distances from 100 – 150 kilometers between the populated places are fulfilled only with the omnipresent short bushes and dust. Every now and then I noticed places that looked very much like large dried up flat puddles. The truck was moving with 80 kilometers per hour and Raul and I had a looot of time for conversations. Or it was more like a long lesson in Spanish. At every replica I didn’t understand he would tell me to „search in the dictionary” and I would start browsing for the unknown word. All in all it was a lot of fun. When he found out that I had a sister he asked me if she had a boyfriend. Then he asked if my cousin had a boyfriend. In the end he remained very disappointed because there would be nothing for him. He himself is 34 years old, he has a wife and four kids and the first of them was born by the time he was 19. He told me he also had a girlfriend but he wanted more. :) Once we stopped at a gas station, he gave me money in order for me to buy sugar and he lit the hot-plate and put on the kettle… for mate, of course. He was very tired because he was on the road since 5 in the morning. And it was already almost 7 in the evening. About 9, next to Sierra Grande we stopped at another gas station so that he would take a bath and we continued into the south. At one point he said… and now… it is dark, you can’t search in the dictionary and we can’t talk. So he blasted some South American reggae.

At 11 and a half we reached a gas station on the road fork to Puerto Madrin where he wanted to get some sleep even though there were only 60 kilometers remaining until Treleu. I went behind the gas station and I wondered if I should pitch the tent or sleep only at the sleeping bag. Strong wind was blowing and I thought it would be best if I pitched the tent in order to protect me from the dust and I also wanted to try it while I was still close to the people. I pitched it with great efforts. The problem was not the wind but the hard soil at which the small stakes were hard to fix in. Even at the beginning my situation didn’t seem bright at all. Time and time again the gusts of wind were going to a point when the strips of the tent could not stand any longer and it literally lied down. I had to support them from the inside with the rucksack because otherwise they would simply hit my head. I managed to go to sleep somehow and in the middle of the night the situation got better just in order to get worse in the morning. When I decided to get up I realized that I had become white because of the dust as well as everything else at the tent. I got myself out and started the complicated precdure of folding the tent. The wind was blowing severely and the whole process was very slow. I managed to drop one of the pillow cases, the wind took it and 50 minutes later finally it crossed the asphalt road and stopped at the bushes. While I was running I stepped aside on the edge of the asphalt road and I was as near as I could to twisting my ankle.

After I gathered everything I decided to go and wash myself at the gas station and when I looked at the mirror I saw that I didn’t look like a human being. One boy from the gas station told me that the town is 15 kilometeres away, that’s why I went out on the crossing and waited. The wind had grown stronger even more and at times I had to take a stable and slightly bent ahead position in order not to be pushed behind. At the southern direction it would be even stronger no matter how hard it would be for me to imagine it.

A clunker stopped and I was picked up – outside appeared a guy with a long hair, tied in a tail, and all greasy with oil. The town turned out to be only 3 kilometers away… I could have walked them on foot if I knew. I used his phone in order to call Diego, my host from couchsurfing and we made a deal that I would wait for him at 1 o’clock in front of his house. Marcos left me there and went ahead but only a minute later he returned and said. „You aren’t going to wait for him in here for half an hour, I will bring you at my place.” His house is located somewhere in the down part of town and consists of two rooms by which there is a big hall with lathes, fraises and all sort of lochsmit’s machinery. Marcos works in there. He showed me some photogrpahs, pulled out an atlas in order to see where Bulgaria is. He said he really enjoyed meeting people from other parts of the world. When 1 o’clock approached he drove me at Diego’s house. The latter one met me joyfully.

Diego and his roommate Pepe work for a big Japanese company for ships’ radio communication equipment. They live in a pretty little house and just the previous days two German girls came to visit them – Ramona and Ines. They appeared in the evening together with Diego’s father – 66 years old white-bearded guy with an exceptional sense of humour who speaks calmly and intelligibly. He likes smoking a pipe, he loves the sea even more (in his case that was an ocean) and he lives by its side in a caravan together with a cat. Diego has inherited his sense of humour from his father and Pepe is a very good Spanish teacher because he knows a little English and understands when I ask something and I want him to say it in Spanish.

In the evening we bought some meat and we lit up the fire grate. Besides the mate, la parilla or as it is pronounced in here – la parrisha (barbecue, fire grate) is something like a tradition. The country is a great producer of beef meat and almost at every corner of every town there is a meat shop.

Seven people gathered around the table and it was extremely funny. About 1 o’clock in the evening when I was about to decide that we were going to sleep I found out that we would go out at a club. It was something like a disco where they played only salsa. Pepe and his girlfriend knew almost everyone who was there. Then what dances started… and I was just standing on the outside, wandering how was that possible that everybody danced so well and even more important at few times everybody danced synchronously and exchanged their partners in a circle. On the other day I found out that everybody’s training salsa at the same dance club.

Puerto Madrin is a dusty city. Very very dusty. The streets at the outskirts have not been impreganted with asphalt and every passing car makes clouds of dust. In the poorer neighbourhouds the landscape appears almost like in the Third World. The situation at the center is more normal. The streets are good, there are all kind of shops, there are plenty of touristic agencies. Plenty of tourists come because 60 kilometers in the north is located Peninsula Verdes – a big peninsula famous for being one of the few places in the world where you can see whales. You can also see sea lions and plenty of birds that build their nests in there. Puerto Madrin is just on the coast line and there is a beach of a few kilometers. The sunset was truly beautiful because of the wind and clouds so I managed to take some really good photographs – something that hasn’t happened for a very long time. One more time I reminded myself that the photographs are one of the things that lift my spirit very much.

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