From the Chilean border (Chile Chico) we took a fairly straight line to the Atlantic coast, for a couple of long and boring days. It was pretty uneventful throughout arid, dry, oil fields.
When we arrived at the coast, Caleta Olivia (also not an exciting place) we realised that the last time we saw the Atlantic was nearly 2.5 years ago when we shipped Burt from England to Canada. It made quite nostalgic…
From here we headed up north by the coast to Comodoro, a huge city with the option of stocking up on essentials and change our dollars to ARG pesos. It took hours to find a guy who was willing to change dollars at a blue market rate and when all was done, we decided to drive further north not on the paved highway (still rocking donkeys, pretty boring) but on the dirt coastal road in the desert which was far more entertaining.
Spent a night in a dry riverbed in the desert surrounded by rheas (very similar looking big birds to Emu) and Guanacos but the real deal was the night sky and at one point we saw the biggest, most brightest meteor-fall which took absolute loooong seconds and lit up blue and purple flames as it was crossing the dark sky above us. It was extraordinary.
The next day we headed on but (quite disorganised as we are) needed water. In the desert. A 20-30 something km on our way we knew there was a village -or at least we thought it was a village, and planned to ask for water there. As we turned off from the main dirt road towards this little town Bahia Bustamente we approached to a gate. This must’ve marked the edge of the village, according to our map. It read on the gate in English that “Mortorhomes are welcome”. That was reassuring so we opened the gate and entered.
We found ourselves in a village looking place with a few larger tin buildings and many smaller cookie-cutter type houses, then a sign saying “Reception” arrow this way, and “Restaurant” arrow that way. In front of the restaurant there were a handful of Northern American tourists with their super high-end cameras and big lenses climbing in to a Land Rover with a German guy saying goodbye to them. As we approached and stopped the engine the German guy asked the driver to wait and turned to us asking if we wanted to join them? Eer… this was unexpected and we asked what this was about. He said they are going on boat trip to the nearby islands to watch sea birds and the sea-lion puppies, then he added that we can stay for the night or as many days as we wanted and we don’t have to worry about paying for this boat trip and we should just go because it is very special. Then he said goodbye to us as he was going away for a couple of weeks right then and assured us that we will be taken care of by his assistant.
We didn’t think twice, said thanks to this mysterious nice guy and followed the Land Rover. We had a spectacular afternoon with some very interesting people. 3 lovely couples were there (one guy worked for NASA the other guy was a photographer film maker worked for National Geographic and so on) And these were only the guests. In the boat with us was a marine biologist, our guide who was very passionate about his subject. It, indeed was very special.
On our return, we were a bit confused and not sure who we need to talk to, we entered the restaurant/bar which was so cool and sort of rustic chic and stylish. Very unexpected. In there was a delightful lovely young lady who knew we were coming and reassured us that his boss filled her in about our situation and offered us to stay wherever we wanted as long as we wanted. Then she said that we can take water as much as we needed and that it was spring water coming from the nearby mountain. Wow! This all was very nice. However we knew that the stay will be very expensive so we thought we will just stay one night and move on tomorrow. After we filled up with the water and we found our spot we asked for the price for the camp. She said that the camping is free and we are welcome to use the shower and facilities if we needed.
Wow. We were very happy and grateful for this amazing place and their generosity. At this point we felt we want to pay something and booked dinner at their restaurant. It was all very lovely and formal that we felt we should dress up neat and nice for the dinner. This was literally the first time in 3 years that we were eating in a nice restaurant with white table cloth and everything. Now this was something. We found out that for every season they hire a fantastic and talented young chef to take care of the restaurant. We were in for a treat.
The mystery guy we met earlier was the grandson of Don Lorenzo Soriano the funder of Bahia Bustamente who came here in the 1950’s looking for seaweed which he did find here and begun to harvest with his family. When the seaweed business went huge over the years and decades, the family built the town with school, church, police station, and houses for the over 400 employees. By the end of the century the family eased off from the seaweed business and replaced it with sheep farming, plus they have decided to offer a wide range of tourism activities such as hikes, horse riding, boat tours, trips to the million year old petrified forest or to a huge canyon and so on. Now it is a private village, a very special and intimate place. They thank their quiet but high profile reputation to a New York Times journalist who visited the place about 10 years ago and printed a very attractive article about it. And the place and its people live up to all expectations until today.
BAHIA BUSTAMENTE http://www.bahiabustamante.com/home-en.html
Needless to say we spent 4 days here, taking hikes and a couple of tours (we paid for those of course) and spent every evening in the restaurant enjoying the fantastic 3 course meal (where somehow somewhere there were a little seaweed smuggled into) with gorgeous wine and great company.
From here we headed to the Peninsula Valdez to meet our friend, Laura (the daughter of the family we spent 3 weeks in El Bolson) When we left the family a month and a half ago Laura said she would catch up with us when we get to Peninsula Valdez. And here we were and there she was coming.
She surprised us with bringing her friend and the 4 of us spent a very fun few days together. They came with their pickup with a pop-up tent at the back so camping was possible. We found ourselves a fantastic and quiet spot on top of the cliffs and spent the days walking around, chatting and eating well.
A few days later they had to head back home but John and I decided to stay for a day or two. We haven’t even seen the killer whales yet. One evening we went for a little walk along the cliffs and found another beach. There we bumped into a US couple who were also overland travelling with their Ford motorhome for about 2 years. We asked them if they fancied to camp on the other side where we were so we can have a glass of wine and chat. We had an absolute ball with them, Erica and Sam for about 4 more days and not just finished all our beer, wine supply but we even opened the world’s cheapest, worst most undrinkable rum we bought in Venezuela a year ago and finished that as well. During the day, with the two vehicles we drove to the north side of the peninsula in the hope to see the whales.
Here a motorbike couple Michele and Brian joined us as well for a couple of days and had a great time. It was super windy so the bikers’ nights in their tent were a bit more eventful but they stayed with us for 3 days.
Well, every fun comes to the end and after many days at this fantastic spot we all said goodbye and one by one we left the peninsula heading different directions.
John and I were in contact (through the workaway website) with a family for a couple of weeks now, who were seeking help on their farm in Cordoba. We decided to drive up and have a look at this place and work away a little bit.
Next, Cordoba, Argentina.