March 15 – 20, 2020
Day 523 – 528
After 5 days trekking without internet, we arrive back in El Chaltén on the 14th of March. This is when the coronavirus situation started to spice things up in Europe. Since there was nothing 5 days ago, we were quite surprised.
We were supposed to do another hike the next day, but we decided to rest for a day and wait to see how things were gonna go.
In Argentina, they didn’t have many cases of the coronavirus, but the government and the population started to panick, seeing how things are in Europe. France and Italie are in complete lockdown.
From there, everything moved pretty quickly. And they started by closing all the national park and the borders. So for us, there were basically not much to do more here since we are in a town famous for its national park…
Our next big stop, and the end of the road for me in South America was Ushuaia, in the South. But to go to ushuaia, you have to cross to Chile before going back to Argentina. So basically, this destination is not possible anymore.
The next day (15th March), the national park was already closed. Everybody was rushing to the bus station to get a bus to leave the city. It felt a bit the apocalypse.
We were in a hostel with other backpackers. And everybody was starting to panick as nobody knew what to do.
We had to act quickly and we took the decision to hitchhike as far as we can in the direction of Buenos Aires. For two reasons: get closer to the capital if things get bad and to reach a warmer and cheaper place if we have to do a quarantine.
We started hitchhiking. The first two days were easy and without any problem. We were following the situation on internet. And the Argentinian government was talking about putting the country in lockdown. So we had to go faster.
The second day on road, we made it to Comodoro, where we stopped in town. We went to the supermarket to buy groceries. We could see the people waiting in line as some measures were taken in the country.
To exit the town, we started to put our thumb up. That’s when our trouble started…
We got a police control, following by a sanitary control. We entered Argentina from Chile about 10 days before. It was no problem when we left, but the Argentinian government decided to put a quarantine for people coming from Chile. How are we supposed to know ?
So the police say we have to do a quarantine. What did you think they did then ? They out us in a car, they drive 10km out of town and let us there saying “You can’t stay in this town. Continue to hitchhike to the next one”. As we are supposed to be “in quarantine”…
The next day, we intent to hitchhike, but without hope. The police control is not giving good vibes to drivers.
Hopefully, our garden angel was there. He is called Albinos. He is a truck driver. He literally stopped when we gave up and we didn’t even raise our thumb. But he stopped!
He drove with us for 30 hours straight. He was going to a town not far from Buenos Aires so we were happy to go with him.
In the middle of the night, we passed a police control where the police saw us “foreigner”. So obviously we got stopped, controled. After more than 5hours waiting and a passage to the hospital, the police let us leave (even though I remind you we should be “in quarantine”)
Our truck driver had to wait with us the all time. Hopefully he was here because then, he drove us all the way to the destination. We had to hide at every police control in order to go through.
After 4 days, nearly 2800km, 7 friendly drivers, 4 police controls and 2 sanitary controls, we arrived in Mar del Plata, 400km south of Buenos Aires.
The government is announcing a lockdown for the all country, so we have to stay here during at least two weeks since we cannot move.
The other problem is that hotel/hostel/camping /AirBnb, they are all closing. They do not accept foreigners. So even though we wanted to do our quarantine and respect the lockdown, we had nowhere to go.
After many calls to the embassy, the consulate, the group of french people in Mar del Plata And many hours waiting, we finally found a solution.
A french woman, Françoise, living He for 30 years have a appartement to rent. She nicely proposed to give us the place for the time to come.
Hopefully she was here. Without her, I don’t know how we would have done. So we are here in this apartment. For now we are forbidden to leave and we will see how things are gonna change.