Baptism by Fire


Days 1 and 2: Buenos Aires to Mar Del Plata and on to Bahia Blanca

First I have to tell you how many things I have learned about Argentina in two days of rallying.

  1. The Beetle is an Icon here. Motorists honk, take photos out their car windows, and wave. Pedestrians give us thumbs up, whistle, and wave, children stare.img_2163 (or are they responding to all the rally cars this way? I prefer to think they love our  Stewball.)
  2. Apparently the best Argentine beef is exported.
  3. The weather in November is hot, dry, and very windy.
  4. Argentinians are courteous, polite drivers except in cities where creative driving is required to manage the unusual round-abouts. No, you do not go clockwise around them, but roads go off at unusual angles.
  5. The roads are clean of liter but are polluted by billboards just like the US.
  6. Our limited polling clearly points out that Argentinians are not Trump fans and maybe the reason they are so friendly is they feel a little embarrassed for us. (OK, that’s my editorializing.)

Now, back to Baptism by Fire. In past rallies, the first day is usually a bit easy to let everyone get over jet lag, back into the swing of things, and let newbies to learn the ropes. Not this one. We did start day 1 at 9:00 which is an abnormally late start time. Day 2 started at 7:30 and we covered 518 km! However, on day 1 we had two time- trials (also called regularities by the Brits) and one race track speed test. I drove the race track but did not set any speed records. It was raining and the track was wet and the rear engine tends to slide out. That’s the only reason.

Now for those who don’t know what a time trial (regularity) means, it is this. You are given an average speed to maintain on some section of a gravel or dirt road. With turns and such along the way that must be navigated and taken into account adjusting speed. The speed is relatively high for the road conditions. This rally the speed will be 70 kph. Those who love the race element of a rally love this, so go for it. We don’t. Hard on the car and the driver/navigator. So, I think from now on, we will skip the timed sections and feel more confident that we and Stewball will finish, which is our win.

img_2180The highlight of day 1 was lunch. It was held outside at a country home in Estancia Las Viboras. Lamb slow cooked/smoked/barbecued on a spit. Delicious and we were ready since lunch was at 3:00! Our entertainment was the fullsizerender-11outstanding feature. Argentina’s iconic gauchos  (cowboys) with their horses. Quite a show.img_2177

Now day 2. We left the rally and drove on our own to Bahia Blanca. I won’t post why we did this, you’ll just have to create your own story. The challenge today was keeping Stewball on the road. Anyone following most likely thought he was driving drunk. We had near hurricane winds, I’m sure. I hope it is calmer tomorrow.

One more thing I must add. I have learned the correct response to the question: How was your day?” The answer is: “I learned a lot today.”

That means :

  1. I missed a turn (or two) but was never really lost,(just late for lunch or a check in.)
  2. I had a minor car repair, but was able to fix it without waiting for the Sweep vehicle and calling on the mechanics.
  3. I miscalculated my average speed on the time trial and….received all kinds of penalties, but it doesn’t matter since we are just on day 1 (or 2).
  4. My navigator and I are still talking and sharing a room.
  5. Wine is great. “So how was your day?”

More to come.

Janet, Ed and Stewball

P.S. We did see a Tango show before leaving Buenos Aires. Wonderful!


About ejhowle23

Authors and adventurers, participated in the World Race 2011, an automobile rally from New York to Paris, crossing three continents and 14,000 land miles. Following much the same route as the setting for our debut novel, The Long Road to Paris. This blog describes our own adventures and challenges. And now you can follow our Bahamas sailing adventure that provides the setting for our second novel, Night Watch. Our rally, the African Safari Challenge, crossed five countries in South Africa in May 2014 and in 2015 we participated in the second Trans-American rally this time from Nova Scotia to San Francisco. Spring of 2016 we travelled 28 days around Australia with friends from previous rallies and in the fall participated in our most exhausting rally through Argentina, Chili and Peru- the Rally of the Incas. We were awarded the Against All Odds award. We're still not sure if this was for us or our car. Stewball never broke down and we hardly did. We will soon take on Iceland as a self-drive tour and in the fall of 2017 we will participate in the Odyssey Italia and then back to Africa for a do-over (almost) of the Africa Safari Challenge.
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2 Responses to Baptism by Fire

  1. TBC says:

    I am so jealous. As a small person, I lived just outside Buenos Aires during the time of Juan Peron. My younger daughter has traveled there and LOVES it! We are so glad you and Stewball are having fun and “learned a lot today!”

  2. McIver Edwards says:

    Keep the news coming. Vicarious enjoyment is still enjoyment.
    Mac Edwards

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