As we approach Puerto Deseado, there is a ‘control post’. Every so often, seemingly with the change in municipalities in Argentina, there is a police inspection. We have passed through several, and apart from being drug-dog sniffed on the bus, we haven’t seemingly been noticed. The lack of traffic on this road begs different.
The officer begins sternly but quickly relents to the Argentine affability. He asks where we are going and we say Puerto Deseado. He responds with ‘you are going to Puerto Deseado and you don’t speak Spanish?’ and we nod. He laughs and the inspections changes quickly to a tour briefing and community introduction. He gives us the proper highway instructions yet we still somehow jumble them up.
The road is beyond flat driving to Deseado. So far, Patagonia’s flatness has a heads-up on the Canadian Prairies. I don’t know if the clouds are higher in the sky, the distances are greater between towns or if it is the lack of swaying wheatfields but this is more high arctic than prairie. The miles and miles of nothing can feel a bit daunting at times.
The wind gusts and moves the car about, yet still everyone seems to be driving 140-160 kph. We drive fast and are passed again and again and again. I start to wonder if I should drive faster and then every ‘control post’ has a line of rental cars that are utterly destroyed. I am content to swallow my pride.
Giant Hollywood letters spell Puerto Deseado. They sit on a dusty hill with satellite dishes and a penguin billboard. These white letters are where the similarities between Deseado and Hollywood begin and end.
Puerto Deseado is still small, not incomprehensibly small like some other sleepy towns along the coast, but nice and small. It is a port town complete with red-painted fishing fleet waiting for the season and a crew of welders working their way through said fleet.
There are a couple of parks, a couple small-town museums, a no-name superstore and a Church tower that also serves as a lighthouse. People are friendly and the days are relaxed.
Just outside of town, we stay at a little campground nestled in a small canyon, sheltered from the wind and the view. Mourning doves and sparrows sing at dusk while the dogs bark at night. The trees swish in the breeze and an ever present cat is just generally ever-present. After a while you end up petting the dogs while half-planning on how to get rid of the fleas later. The dogs come and go depending on the sun and barbecue coals.
The owner is a fairly typical campground owner kind of guy. He rides a scavenged and under-sized bike around the campground, doing his daily patrol for random conversation. His comb-over blows in the wind. He finds another campsite and the conversation begins. His comb-over finds shelter but his arms now wave with gusto.
Conversation completed, he whizzes by on his bike with a big thumbs up. His dog raises his head, debating the benefits of following his owner or maybe sneaking a steak off the turisticas grill. He pauses, licks his balls and waits. The ever-present cat lurks at campsite number six.
There is a rugged little road system stretches along the ‘Ria Deseado’. A Ria is not really an inlet and not really a fjord, it is a river estuary that has been conquered by the ocean. Little gravel roads spider along its edge, from viewpoint to viewpoint. Atop, we watch the five metre tide come and go. Time passes. This is a nice place.