Our Really Big Adventure    
The Truck Arrives in Ushuaia

Argentina Travelogues

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Introduction – Most of our time in South America was going to be spent with the Hot Rock Global Challenge expedition. We had spent the last week meeting up with other new members of the expedition while waiting for the truck and the old hands to arrive.


They looked rough as hell: dirt encrusted, unshaved, drunk and passing a bottle of cheap South American liquor between them. They slouched in their chairs, laughing uproariously, gesticulating wildly and shouting for more beer while the spit and polish waiting staff nervously looked on. All in all it was rather like a clichéd Mexican bandito film. Steeling myself, I hesitantly made my way over to them - after all these were the people I was going to be living with for the next three months.

I wasn’t alone in my reservations. The other Hot Rockers we had met up with in Ushuaia were sitting around, backs too straight and looking self-conscious like a boy meeting his girlfriend's parents for the first time. We had been eagerly awaiting that day – the day when the rest of our group would arrive from Buenos Aires along with the Truck. Most of us would be spending the next 3 months or more together, travelling and climbing across South America as part of the first circumnavigation of the globe by a motorised vehicle. But standing there, feeling like fresh fish being eyed up by bubba in a Southern State’s penitentiary, I don’t think there was a person who wasn’t having second thoughts.

I suppose we shouldn’t have expected them to look any other way. They had just spent the last three and a half days travelling continuously down the massive length of South America, trying to make up for the time lost getting the truck though customs. The nine of them had slept, eaten and drunk on the truck, even peeing into buckets when piss stops weren’t frequent enough. They had endured this just to get down to us as quickly as possible. After such a travel odyssey it was no wonder they were dirty, drunk and in a celebratory mood.

Putting aside my reservations I awkwardly introduced myself. There was Dave, our expedition leader, holding things just together enough so that we weren’t kicked out of the café. Next came Fi, still bubbling despite having driven the truck 24 hours a day with occasional help from Caz who, despite the shirt straight out of the 60s, seemed quite sane. Rachel and Mike sat together, holding hands, obviously a couple. Ross only lacked a dog on a string to complete his Crusty image. Johnny 9.5, missing half a finger, seemed more intent on ensuring the beer kept flowing than on anything else. By far the loudest was Gary, drinking from any bottle or glass, hair in some kind of insane white man’s Afro, behaving and looking like an extremely lecherous Rolf Harris.

After a while, they didn’t seem that bad, all of them except for Badger that is. While others shouted, laughed and generally tried too hard to make us feel welcome, he just sat there, eyes fixed on us like we were so much meat. Unshaven, heavily muscled and dressed in skin-tight clothes adorned with glitter and a translucent scarf falling off his hips, in a vague imitation of a mini-skirt, he was just plain scary. Occasionally I became the focus of his “what the f**k are you looking at” stare and he’d provokingly demand, “Do you climb hard then, do you?”

Introductions done, all us newbies were keen to see the expedition vehicle, AKA The Big Red Truck. We started walking but soon the girls, unable to hold back their excitement, were running, skipping and jumping, their squeals of glee only drowned by Sarah’s uncontrollable giggle. The boys, more image conscious, brought up the rear keeping their own enthusiasm in check.

The truck was filthy but cool. It had been converted for the job of expedition vehicle by a bunch of eager but unskilled rock climbers with a welding torch and it showed. So while it was bright red, convertible, had a bar, climbing wall, tables and power outlets, everything wasn’t always of the best construction. Judging by the thick layer of Patagonian dust the truck didn’t so much shelter you from the elements as introduce you to them. We spent half an hour poking around, shouting at each other when we found yet another cool feature – “Look there’s a stereo in here” or “Wow, look at all that beer”. It may have been full of rubbish, poorly constructed and barely road worthy# but we were thrilled.

Dinner arrangements dragged us away as Geoff had booked us into a seafood restaurant, probably not the best of ideas in retrospect. Slowly in twos and threes we dribbled into the restaurant, some acutely aware of how incongruous we were, others not as they had to be supported by the less drunk. We sat in amongst the locals who, judging by their attire, were trying to make a night of it. I could feel their look of distain and table by table most of them got up and left. Eventually we had to restaurant almost to ourselves and I stopped feeling so self-conscious. By the end of the night Gary had spilt wine all over the table and Badger had had to be brought home by Fi but on the whole I was quite happy that things hadn’t gone as badly as I feared they would.

The following morning I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they were all quite nice people really – even Badger.
#Fi interjects outragedly: This is rubbish. The truck is fantastically road worthy.


Pictures - click to enlarge
Picture of the Big Red Truck - Argentina Travelogues
Photograph of Badger's hair cut Argentina Travelogues
The truck - a formidable beast

Badger and his badger stripes

Picture of the big red truck in the snow in Ushuaia Argentina Travelogues
Photograph of our tent in the snow in Ushuaia Argentina Travelogues
The truck in snow

Our tent
Picture of a tent in the snow Ushuaia Argentina Travelogues
Photograph of Gary with a picture of South America cut into his head Argentina Travelogues
The campsite

Gary's shaved a map of South America into his head