Throughout all of our travels in Southern Argentina and Chile, no matter where we wanted to go in Patagonia, the road always led back to a nondescript, flat, dusty, crossroad town - Rio Gallegos. The pattern goes a little something like this: Buenos Aires to Rio Gallegos to Torres del Paine to Rio Gallegos to Ushuaia to Rio Gallegos to El Chalten to Rio Gallegos to El Bolson.
As we are moving up North, there will be no reason to pass more wasted time in Rio Gallegos. Not that this makes me extremely sad, because there is no reason to spend time in Rio Gallegos...period. All that said and known, Rio Gallegos has consumed over two of our travel days. We have had hours to wander the streets in search of engaging ways to spend our time. Every time we have come up short, and ended up at the Carefour.
The Carefour is like an French Walmart in Argentina. It has the six obligatory sections: food, clothing, personal hygiene, household, automotive, electronics. Hours have been wasted wandering the mazes of stalls (too many types of cheese to choose from!), and we have probably seen half of the city´s population buying corn (yeah, I don´t know why corn either, but aisles and aisles of corn go missing daily) there at some point. Contemplating things I have learned on this trip, there are two lists: "Things I learned backpacking in Patagonia", and "Things I learned at the Rio Gallegos Carefour".
Things I learned at the Rio Gallegos Carefour:
1.) Do not assume a fancy exterior implies a decent bathroom. Carry toilet paper with you at ALL times.
2.) Sometimes you think you are understanding a conversation in a different language, but you you really aren´t. (Ex: A discussion with a friendly Argentine in the canned produce aisle (buying corn). I found out at the end of a long lecture (during which I was nodding along with every sentence), that I was agreeing with an antisemitic tirade and I had no idea.)
3.) Hold on to your moneda, they are precious. People will try to talk you out of them, and it will only go to allowing the same child to ride the automatic batman car eight times in a row and ¨NaNaNaNa-NaNaNaNa, BATMAN!¨will haunt your dreams.
4.) Security tags are underused in the US. Or, stealing single pairs of cheap white underwear is the latest Argentine rage.
5.) Milenesa is different from Vienesa. However, the are both types of meat...or resemblances of meat.
6.) AC/DC is played everywhere. "I´M ON A...."
I´m still working on composing my list of things learned in the Patagonian outback...more on that later. But for now, I hope you have the lyrics of ¨Highway to Hell¨ stuck in your head for days.