49.5979° S, 71.4464° W
Sometimes you forget where you are when your camping. Especially considering we set up camp in the dark, so we had no idea what our surroundings were. But, I was pleasantly surprised when I popped my head out in the morning. I guess driving through vastness and waking up as the sun rises over it are defiantly two different feelings.
Our next destination was El Chalten and with only a small stretch of the Ruta 40 until we reached it, we were sure we would be seeing glaciers by the end of the day. Holy shit, were we wrong. In fact, I'm finding it hard to even comprehend the kind of day this turned out to be. It started by choosing what route to take, obviously taking in to account petrol stations, mileage and the drama we'd already had with getting the car stuck. The clear option was to take the country's national highway, the main road that runs through this whole frigging lower half of Argentina. The easy and direct route.
Even though it was a dirt road it wasn't so bad, in fact it was becoming normal to have to drive stretches like this on the Ruta 40, as they were in the middle of building the route in to a Tarmac road. An hour in to the the dirt road and small puddles began to appear. A little after this the road began to get very wet and muddy and then...we got dusty stuck again. UGHHHHH, The mud was so thick that even with pushing, it was so hard to get the car to move. This is when we had the brilliant idea of snow chains. Yes, because snow chains will work in the mud...fucking brilliant my ass. God this was the worst decision in the whole world. Not only did we spend an hour trying to figure out what way the snow chains went on, but by the time we thought we had got them the right way round, they were that covered in this awful mud that they just stuck together and wouldn't move. As well as taking another 30 minutes trying to remove the chains, we were all covered head to toe in mud and the car was still stuck.
As we looked in to the distance we could see another car coming. We're saved! They can help us get the car out. Did they help us ? Did they bollocks. The rich bastards rolled up in there perfectly working and un-stuck 4x4, told us that the road was bad (No shit Sherlock) and it was a shame we were stuck and then carried on driving. Cheers guys, nice one. Suck a dick assholes !!! After another 30 mins or so of pushing, we finally had the car facing the opposite direction and were preparing to drive the way we had come to find an alternative when....obviously we got stuck again !
So this is now the second time in the space of 10 minutes we were stuck, and directly after just getting us out of the first stuck situation. It's fine, we can just push the car like we did before.
Did it work ? Of course it didn't. Why would it, that would just be too easy. In fact 2nd stuck became worse than 1st stuck because the wheels had now ended up in the bank, completely buried and were super duper stuck. The next hour or so consisted of trying to dig the wheels out, pushing the car, falling over in the mud and just generally not getting anywhere at all. Finally another car came and these guys actually stopped. They even had rope that they could tow us out with, but....they had no loop on their car to tie it to. Fortunately a dude and his family came in a Chevrolet classic and managed to pull us out. As we stood speaking to the other cars that had pulled us out, about what direction was best to go, we figured we would be able to do the rest of the road if we travelled as a team of 3. That way if anything bad happened, we agreed there would be people to help. Perfect.
As we drove in convoy, the Chevrolet in front, Dusty in the middle and the Porsche at the back, we felt a lot safer but it was still a constant battle with the road. The most useful technique we had found was to basically crank the speed up and just floor it. If we didn't have enough speed when we went through the puddles we would end up sinking, and if we slowed down in the mud then the car would start to spin out and send us flying off road. I shit you not, it was by far the most scary car journey of my life where I felt my life flash before my eyes numerous times. It was insane, but Jord was doing so well to keep the car in control, speeding up when he needed too, slowing down to avoid crashing in to the car in front and stopping us from getting stuck again.
But of course, this was speaking way too soon and next thing you know, Dusty began to spin out of control. We flew off the road to the point where we were either going to roll the car, or fly bonnet first down a huge ditch, however, Jord managed to slam the brakes on hard enough and just in time that we were left wedged high centre on the side of the embankment. WHAT THE ACTAUL FUCK. I couldn't get over it, I still can't. Not only was this was the 3rd time we were stuck, but it was by far the most dangerous and potentially life taking. It was becoming beyond a joke and all we wanted to do was get the hell off this death road. The Chevrolet of course stuck to the plan and pissed off never to be seen again. The Porsche had stopped to see if two girls on the side of the road were ok but came pretty soon after the accident. As we all got behind the car to push, there was not a chance that we were moving the car.
This is now stuck number 3. I mean we thought the 1st stuck was bad, then stuck 2 happened. That was even worse. But stuck number 3. Stuck number fucking 3. Well that was just something else. I guess people figured we'd well and truly bolloxed up the car, as everyone who passed stopped for us. I actually can't believe how many people were driving on this son of a bitch road. 14 people in total tried helping us to get the car back on the road. We pushed, pulled, put rocks under the wheels, put towels down, and even tried digging rocks and mud out from under the car with our hands. People were even trying to donate their cooking stuff to help dig the embankment flat. Everyone was so helpful but nothing was budging Dusty from stuck number 3.
Finally after all the effort everyone had put in, a big truck pulled up with a load of rope on the back (the one we had used before had snapped). The first time we tried to tow Dusty out, that rope almost snapped too, but that's because it was too long. We made it shorter and stronger and as the truck tried towing us out, everyone got behind the car to push. Oh my god, it worked! It finally worked. I couldn't believe it. We said our thanks to everyone, although we still had the rest of the road to get through, about 25 kilometres. Luckily there wasn't that much left and within the next 10 minutes we were back on paved road. I've never been so grateful for road. Mandi was so happy she started kissing it. We all stopped when we got on to the normal road and everyone kind of tried to make sense of the day we had entailed.
As soon as we found a good place to camp we pulled up and of course whapped the wine out ! our ordeal of a day was finally over and pleasantly ended with a beautiful sunset and 4 now relaxed road trippers.