After another night in the middle of nowhere, we spent another one next to the eco guard, where they used to register for fishing at the border of Neuquen and Mendoza. The fishing registration now was being handled at another place and there were not many people passing this way. So the guy who were working there were very happy to be able to interact with someone. So he showed us a safe spot where we can put our tent and even helped us with hot water for mate. The next day the vehicle traffic was very scarce and it took a long time until we find a ride only up to a village close by called Norte Ranquil. To give a better idea of the location, it falls a bit north of Ranquil. While hoping for another ride huge dark clouds appeared over the mountains which worried me considerably. Since no cars were passing I started to look for alternative ways. Due to the absence of cars I was able to get away a bit from our spot. From a cabin (surprisingly, it was a tourist information office in a village not more than 200 habitants) a bit further down the road, I found out that there are two buses per week to Malargüe one of which was about to leave in thirty minutes and the other in three days. So I went back and tried to convince Marianah to take the bus but she didn’t want to betray the hitchhiking concept a second time. Luckily the hail storm hit just 10 minutes before departure which convinced her. I don’t want to think what would happen if it started after the departure of the bus.
The clouds needed to show they mean business before Mariana is convinced.
Leaving the clouds behind
Another extinct volcano on the road
When we reached to Malargüe in the evening, the rain had stopped but everywhere was wet. Unbeknown to me at the time, the drainage in the city is done with open channels. This information was revealed to me in detail, with the exact depth of channels – which was up to a little higher than my knee- and the contents which I believe consist of mud, filth and an indefinite percentage of fecal matter by the smell of it. Upon arrival to the hostel, when I presented myself with extra smell and a temporary knee high brown sock, we were informed that this was a common occurrence in the city and they were considering other options since her childhood. The next day we went out to do some shopping, and were immediately exposed to the pointless roundabout art which woke some suspicions in my mind about the place. Then we came across a dead bird in a pet shop display which raised my suspicions even higher.
The artistic epitome of Malargüe
A clock with the date, that needs to be changed manually everyday.
A dead bird in cage
Normally these were enough for me to pass judgement on the city itself but it was not all. There were a number of supermarkets in the city but they were kind of themed supermarkets. The theme was lost to me most of the time but they had around only ten products which they filled the whole shops. One of them had a full aisle of wine, all of which are the same wine, next to an aisle of a single detergent which went on shelf after shelf. Another market was probably sponsored by an instant soup brand and apart from a very limited number of normal market products, had almost an unlimited choice on instant soups. It was possible to find the same soup on different aisles with different prices as well. Actually they were like huge storages with cashiers. After all these interesting finds about the city I spotted a restaurant called Baku and the sign was written with Cyrillic letters. I felt hope in my guts that after so long, I was able to eat some familiar food but entering the restaurant was sufficient to understand that it was a pizza place. The connection to this day is still lost to me. My conclusion was that the depleted uranium stores that are placed close to the city, were not that depleted. The radioactivity may have eroded the common sense in the city. If funded I would like to make some research on the behavioural deviation of the population there. In order not to be affected by the uranium, we left the city towards Cordoba via San Rafael the next day skipping the natural attractions around the city. They could only be reached by vehicle anyway.
Away from Malargüe