Regular readers of this blog, both of you, know that there are some beautiful cities in Argentina. Some I’ve been to (Bariloche, Buenos Aires, Salta) and some I’m yet to visit (Mendoza, Cordoba, Rosario). I must let you into a secret however, there are also some right old shitholes, very few of which ever get visited by tourists, for one simple reason, they’re horrible. Rio Gallegos is one such town that has this reputation and had been a cloud on my horizon for a long time, mainly because I knew I would have to pass through it at least once if I were to go to Ushuaia, but also because I knew chances were I would have to spend the night there.
So it was with some trepidation I jumped onto a bus in El Calafete with Rio Gallegos written on the front of it. Got there about 4 and asked a cabbie to take me to a hotel in the centre. As we were driving through streets populated only by Exhaust and Tyre centres, street dogs and surly looking teenagers he started pointing possible hotels out. I looked at them and told him I preferred something nearer the centre. He looked over his shoulder at me and said, “This is the centre”.
But as it turned out I found a very nice place, next to a Tyre Centre and opposite an Exhaust Centre, with 4 surly looking emo kids sat on the front step, and headed the one block to the main shopping street. Which took me about 10 minutes as every step I took forward I was blown back and slightly sideways about ¾ of a step. The wind here was unbelievably strong and cold. People climb Everest wearing less than I was that sunny (sunny because no clouds hang around in that sort of blast) afternoon I was freezing watching in disbelief as the good people of Rio Gallegos scampered around in t-shirts and shorts. Seriously, they were.
So, I ended up staying a night in Rio Gallegos. Turns out it wasn’t that bad after all, nice room, nice steak, some little kids came and talked to me in the restaurant and drew on all the blank pages of my notebook. Maybe I’ll drop a note to Lonely Planet…