Californiacation with cops in Argentina [ 8 of 11 ]

Traveling can get pretty daunting. That’s why you must choose your travel companions carefully. People you can handle at the most stressful moments. Like today…

We decided to drive across the border to Chile. We had asked our rental car company and they assured us we were okay to cross the border. We drove 3 hours south of El Calafate to get there. We stood in line at the Argentina customs and the officer asked where our stamped notary forms were, we showed him what we had, which were just insurance papers. The customers around us showed us what the form was supposed to look like. Yeah. We didn’t have it. So he told us to go to the nearest town, have them email it to us and then print it.

We drove to the next down around 30 min south, Rio Turbio. We asked around in our broken English for an Internet cafe and eventually we were pointed to a telephonica. This had 5 phone booths, 10 computers and a printer. The place couldn’t have been anymore perfect. Rohan has been carrying us through the trip with his awesome spanish so he called the car rental company and asked for the forms. They said they’d send it! By now it was around 3. We waited till 3:30… 3:45… We agreed to just go back to the car and eat some lunch while we wait. It was now 4:30 and they still haven’t sent it. We decided to go to El Calafate and figure it out with the car rental company in the morning.

Pretty disheartened now, we decide to drive back on highway 40, where Google Maps told us to go in the beginning. We missed the turnout in the morning because it’s just a dirt road. Little did we know it’s 2 hours of dirt and rocks. I think Rohan’s hands were getting numb from holding onto the wheel so tight so that we wouldn’t fly off the road.

Highway 40

We finally get off the dirt road, only 42 miles from El Calafate. We are getting pretty optimistic that we can get there before the rental car place closes! Then… the gas light comes on. By now we are around 38 miles from town. Mind you, there is literally NOTHING around us. It’s a barren flatland with 1 road carved into it. Rohan just cruises down the hills and tries not to gas too much. We slowly make it past a few pretty good landmarks, the intersection to go to El Chalten… 26 miles away. The intersection to the airport.. 16 miles away. We were saying that if we got close enough to 10 miles, one of us can run into town. But since we crossed those intersections, it wouldn’t be hard to hitch a ride if our car did break down. 12 miles away… then it happened. Our little beater car finally gave out.

There was a car behind us and we flagged her down. But as Cham and I ran towards her she got afraid and drove away. Damnit. We got back in the car. It was freezing outside and the winds had to have been around 20mph! All I was thinking was that there was no way I could run in that…The next car started approaching us and we all just jumped and waved. It was a police car! They stopped and approached us and didn’t speak English but Rohan explained that we ran out of gas. He laughed and said no way! Went back to his car full of police buddies and started laughing at us. He came back and made hand motions while talking in Spanish that they will take one of us, drive into town to get gas and drive back here. Hallalujah! I volunteered as tribute. Cham and Rohan both volunteered me as well though… I think it was because it was 4 huge Argentinian dudes and nobody else would’ve fit in this huge suv armored truck. So I grabbed my bag and made sure I got my spanish book! I got into the front seat in between the driver and Carlos, the officer that was walking/laughing at us. It was a pretty tight squeeze. We couldn’t really communicate, but they were talking in Spanish and probably talking trash about how dumb these foreigners were.

Later: he was the one that checked my passport at the airport. Naturally, I asked for a selfie!

We finally get to the gas station and he let me out saying/gesturing that I will go get the gas and to be back at this spot in 20 minutes. I was hesitant about it because I really hope they come back. I ran into the store, gestured that I needed bottles for gas. The girl at the counter washed a one gallon container and gave it to me. I jumped in front of the line and had the service guys my empty container and he filled it up. Then I went to wait on the curb for the officers.

As I stood there in the cold, I started wondering if one gallon was enough. Started doing some calculations and thought better safe than sorry. So I ran back into the store and asked the girl if I could have uno mas container. She gladly washed another one and handed it over. I ran back out and had the same service guy fill it up. He was definitely laughing at my broken English and franticness. I go back to the curb and wait for the police. I started to think, what if they don’t come back?? 5 minutes later he honked from across the street and I ran over. He dropped off Carlos and the rest of the guys so it was just us.

We didn’t speak each other’s language, we drove back, both of us singing to Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Californiacation.

Originally published on 12/27/15 at