Highway 3 runs the length of the Atlantic coastline in Argentina, the Andes act as a rain shield and in the lee of those stones lies a windy barren expanse. Somewhere in the middle of that expanse lies the YPF gas station in Tres Cerros, and in the middle of the gas line, the Savvlinvan sits.
Up at seven am to start a 700 km day to the border of Chile and Argentina, we had a real good start, planning a stop over in Rio Gallegos for the night, border crossing in the morning. Thus far our trip has only been delayed by our choosing and this unforeseeable pit stop has us filled with mixed emotion. In Fitz Roy early this morning we were dismayed to find the gas station sans gas and pushed on to this gasoline oasis, only to fight severe headwinds the last 120 km, the gas gauge was on E the last 15 km and we were preparing for what we assumed would be our first hitch with the Jerry can to get enough to fuel to reach the pumps. We pushed the limits, cruising on fumes like Cosmo Kramer, rolling into the parking lot with gas to spare only to find another gas station with no gas to spare. Here we sit and wait as the queue lines up down the highway as the morning turns to afternoon and cars keep pouring in.
The gas station attendant replied that he expects gas not today or tomorrow, but maybe the next, and so it’s looking like we are going to have to start rationing our remaining liquor supply. We stand at 1 liter of vodka and 1 bottle of wine, enough to support roughly two games of Catan; we’ve already played one. Luckily for us the gas station is of the highest grade, free showers (cold), wifi (can’t open the almighty Instagram), beer coolers (empty), ice cream freezers (also empty), restaurant and bar to explore, and here we shall sit.
News from the great white north, Minneapolis MN, Brotherbears friend has managed to crack the shitty wifi and relay the message that there is currently a Labor dispute in Argentina and this may be why we are sitting here high and dry. Yesterday we passed an interesting blockade of the road by 20 semi trucks blocking the road in each direction. In the middle of the road block was the remnants of some burnt tires and some ruffians with banners that let us pass peacefully on the side, perhaps this has something to do with our gas shortage. Andrew is wishing for a Carl’s junior and a group of really hot chicks to walk in, in that order. Brian is contemplating moving the van from our nice parking spot to a spot in line and studying every move of the pump guys as they seem to be transferring gas from one underground tank to another. Marlie was feeling the need for a good sweat and went for a nice sunny jog into the wind.
No sign of gas in sight. Sun will be up for another 2 hours, it’s windy and we’re bunkered down in the van. For dinner we added two rations of tuna to the pasta sauce for some sustenance. Morale is high, season one episode one of Game of Thrones has just started, bench is pulled out and Andrews tablet is mounted on the wall with duct tape, surround sound being provided by the Bluetooth speaker. Bring on the strike boys, we’ve got 50 hours of tv to consume.
I’m confounded. After watching 4 episodes of Game of Thrones last night, we tucked ourselves in bed and called it a night. I awoke this morning to the line of cars in front and behind us, cut in half and the parking lot nearly empty. Where is everyone else who was waiting for the past 24 hours gas along beside us, deserting to? Our van now sits second in a once impressive 40+ lineup that has now splintered and receded into two paltry 8 car line ups. The cars in front I recognize, which means that no one has filled with gas, yet everyone seems to be departing. Rumor has it that the next town San Julian is also out of gas, the previous town of Fitz Roy was out we passed yesterday morning, so where are these kamikazes blazing off to with empty tanks?!
Morale took a hit. As I was enjoying my Mokacino Espreso and the Argentine version of “news,” blared in the gas station cafe, I noticed a YPF tanker truck parked just beyond the pump. Could this be our almighty savior? I guardedly pointed out this new development to Marlie, just as the truck started up, pulled out in a cloud of dust, and stole away along with our hopes of leaving this spotty wifi, ice cream and beer-less, wasteland of a gas (less) station.
We’ve discovered an energy drink called speed, as we are at a truck stop and we do stand in solidarity with the truckers, there is talk amongst the crew of a possible speed bender as we wait it out. In other news the drivers are receiving media attention, I can’t understand a word of what the news people are saying but in the video the truckers are cheerfully rallying at the central bank. Empanadas will not be ready until 1400 today, 46 hours of GOT remain, there is talk of another game of Catan, it’s going to be a bit hotter today and I will most definitely be dosing myself with vitamin mucho d hoy.
Brian returns from the bathroom with a report from the gas man himself, gas for sure martes or lunes, Brian couldn’t confirm which he heard. Morale is at an all time low. Bought 1.5 liter of Coke.
As we were about to start our pre empanada Catan game, boom, the line was moving, our friendly line neighbors became sworn enmities as every car rushed forward and around now first in line van to fill with the reserve gas. After arguing for a bit with the gentleman in broken Spanglish we were able to secure our 31 liters of low grade gasolina (and yes I too sing that catchy Mexican club song every time time I say gasolina). So now we say our goodbyes to our hardworking new Tres Cerros YPF comrades and push off sailing for San Julian 130 km down the road, hoping for fair tail winds and a feast of fuel upon our arrival.
Made it to San Julian, 2 empty stations and now 52nd in line at the 3rd. Morale is high after 1st ice cream in 48 hrs. Things are lookin up!
Rio Gallegos. After another overnight wait in line our savior has arrived in the form of a YPF fuel truck. Headed to Ushuaia via Chile, with any luck we’ll cross 2 borders, use one ferry and be at the bottom of the Americas by sunset.