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.
- Out VW Beetle, Stewball, is an icon here. Motorists honk, take photos out their car windows, and wave. Pedestrians give us thumbs up, whistle, and wave. Children stare. Are we special or are they responding to all the rally cars this way? I prefer to think they love our Stewball.
- Apparently the best Argentine beef is exported.
- The weather in November is hot, dry, and very windy.
- 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.
- The roads are clean of liter but are polluted by billboards just like the US.
- 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 a.m. which is an abnormally late start time. Day 2 started at 7:30 a.m. 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 when 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.
The highlight of day 1 was lunch. It was held outside at a country home in Estancia Las Viboras. We had lamb slow cooked, smoked, and barbecued on a spit. It was delicious and we were ready since lunch was at 3:00 p.m.! Our entertainment was the outstanding feature of Argentina's iconic gauchos (cowboys) with their horses. Quite a show!
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.
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 :
- I missed a turn (or two) but was never really lost (just late for lunch or a check-in).
- I had a minor car repair, but was able to fix it without waiting for the Sweep vehicle and calling on the mechanics.
- 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).
- My navigator and I are still talking and sharing a room.
- Wine is great. “So how was your day?”
So how was your day?