After Peninsula Valdes and the magical mystery bus, the only option that made any sense was to rent a car for the rest of the trip. Buses are expensive here and when you start looking at the time spent waiting for and organizing buses, self-transport seems pretty appealing. Renting a car long-term reduces the price from Churchill level more to normal Canada level, still worth it though.
After two discouraging and bizarre attempts (another blog in itself…), we did find a good rental company so here is a free plug for Centauro Rent-A-Car. The service was great there, they speak english, they actually have the cars there and stuff works. Plus, he will give you a really fair deal and, as with all of Argentina, I would bring cash. It helps. Anywhere.
With our silver-bullet volkswagen waiting to hit the road, we went in search of one more item – an inverter to charge the laptop in the car. Or as I like to call it, the Argentine cultural tour of Puerto Madryn.
The government seems to be working to prevent the import of goods to Argentina encouraging the purchase of Argentina-made products. Since not much of anything electronic is made here, the price and moreso the availability of electronics is a little crazy.
The first place seemed like an average Radio Shack and the service was as such, looking for a small item seemed to be a bit annoying to them. Still they were polite and they did not have it so they sent us down the street and around the corner.
The next stop was a corner store with bars on blacked-out windows. It seemed crammed with every type of electronic ‘thing’ you might ever need, all stuffed randomly in boxes.
The store was busy too, even if there were three or four guys behind the counter. Everyone took a number and waited. It was a long wait, people sat and read the newspaper or watched television – I think the main newspaper is still fighting with the government – or just waited.
The service was good but, again, it seemed that most transactions include a fairly lengthy conversation and another conversation is possibly included between transactions as well.
These guys did not have one but we did find the necessary translations, all three employees helped out with that one while more newspapers were read and TV’s watched. Yet again, we were sent down the street and around the corner.
Here we found a little electronics shop with the white-haired owner standing behind the counter. Everything was in its proper place and I am pretty sure he knew off-hand the contents of each box upon the shelf towering behind him. Unfortunately, he did not have it either but he did offer a thorough and exact description of what device we did need, how it worked and what purpose it served.
Then he exactly explained the next location and its name, NautiFoto (‘This is one part ‘Nauti’ which is the word ‘Nautical’. This is for the ocean and ‘Foto’ which is one part of the word ‘photography’ which is for the pictures. You see? Nauti-Foto – nautical photography. You will see.’)
Even with our broken understanding of Spanish, you could feel this explanation was laced with pride or maybe he thought that we were completely clueless tourists (which we were). Possibly both, now that I think of it.
Then, down the street and around the corner, we ended up in a full-circle back at the beach and a completely random storefront full of (naturally) Nautical and Photography stuff.
The nautical side is a bit more modern but the photography side, well, if you are a vintage camera collector, this is the place. The stock ranges from film cameras and lenses to old photographs to microscopes to VHS dubbing machines. It really is a neat place.
The woman who runs it speaks English and while she was not quite as thorough as the last fellow, she was a lot more persuasive. As in, this is what you want, this is what I have therefore what I have in stock is exactly what you need. This is the price and you would be honored to purchase it from me…
Of course, we gladly would have if the price would not have been three times that of Canada. Wow, even a gerry can ranges from $50-80 US. I can’t tell if it was that expensive to import or if we are just in a tourist town where yacht-owners get gouged.
We said we had to think about it and she responded with ‘Okay, I will be open for another half hour, maybe an hour but I will open exactly at 9am tomorrow morning!’ At this point, her friends and/or employees in the corner burst out laughing, so take that as you may. We all smiled and went our separate ways, no money or inverters ever exchanging hands.
Still, it was a nice tour of Puerto Madryn and a nice way to spend the day before getting lost on our rental car on the way out of the city.