Spring in North Argentina: 2 Big Storms in 1 Week
What are the chances? We go to sleep and a couple of hours later we are woken to the sounds of wild winds outside, which are shaking our camper from side to side. There is thunder and lightning and before long the rain starts bucketing down. Not once, but twice, in a week!
We had been so excited to leave winter behind as we drove through Argentina under clear blue skies, with trees full of blossom lining the streets of many of the towns we passed through. It had rained a bit in Villa General Belgrano , which cooled the days a bit, but we were confident that this too would pass.
The weather on the 3 days we spent in Alta Gracia was also quite pleasant, although it did begin to rain quite heavily right at the end of the celebrations for the festival of Our Lady of Mercy . In fact, I’m fairly sure that the gauchos may have been wet by the finish of their parade. But by morning it was fine again.
From Alta Gracia we went north to Jesus Maria to visit the estancias. It rained quite heavily the night we stayed there but once again, the morning brought with it sunshine. The next night, the night of the ‘blood moon’ eclipse, the sky was clear – not a cloud to be seen.
We continued on, driving steadily east in the direction of Uruguay. We planned to break our trip at the Laguna Mar Chiquita, between Cordoba and Santa Fe. When we arrived at Miramar (the town) it was warm and lovely, set up as we were beside this huge lake, watching the water birds do what they do. Juergen got some fantastic shots of a beautiful sunset and we went happily to sleep in this quiet place.
A couple of hours later the storm hit. Totally unexpected, it woke us with a shock. It was so loud and wild that it was impossible to sleep through. At times I was worried that the camper would blow right over, although Berta is fairly stable on her feet! The rain became so loud it sounded like rocks hitting the roof. We thought it might be hailstones, but could see no sign of them when we looked out of the window. What we could see were palms, almost bent double, and unceasing rain. Thankfully we didn’t have to worry about our solar panels.
When it calmed down a little we slept again, but the morning arrived and the rain was persisting. There was water laying everywhere. Instead of spending a relaxing day by the lake, we drove on. Juergen quickly decided to engage the 4-wheel drive to get out of what had become a very slippery area, where we had parked.
As we drove further east it seemed to clear up a bit, then we had rain again, then it cleared again… The edges of the highway were soft and a lot of the side roads were very wet, judging by the amount of mud driven onto the main road next to the intersections.
3 days later we reached Villaguay, about 200Km from the border with Uruguay. It was humid and warm and we were really enjoying it. We found a place to stay at the Municipal Balneario. There was evidence of recent rainfall, but the ground looked dry, and Juergen was careful to park Berta where it felt stable. We opened up the camper to let the heat out and the fresh evening air in – even our roof vent over the bed, which hasn’t been open very often at all! Fortunately we decided to close it when we went to sleep, because it was letting in too much light from the street lighting outside.
That was a great decision because, for the second time in a few days, we were woken by a vicious storm. Once again we were being rocked in all directions by incredibly strong winds. This time I was a little afraid of how close we had parked to a big old eucalyptus tree – hoping it wasn’t one of those affectionately known as a ‘widow-maker’ back home in Australia! And once again there was thunder and lightning, and the rain poured down. We were kept awake for a long time listening to havoc being created outside.
Thankfully the daylight brought no sign of damage to us or our little house on wheels, but there was a lot of debris around the usually well-kept area we were in. Our problems started as soon as we tried to get from the camper into the truck cab – it was impossible to stay on your feet without slipping. Juergen had to hold onto the side of the truck to get to front. When we tried to drive out of the place, the truck slipped on the first turn we had to take. Further on the road remained as slippery and was quite steeply cambered, but the 4-wheel drive was engaged, and I had every confidence in Juergen, given his extensive practice with slippery conditions in ice and snow.
We were only a few hundred metres out of the gate when the back wheels started to slide and gravity decreed that they would go downhill towards the side of the road. Eventually the front wheels had no choice but to follow suit. We were then on a bit of a lean which only increased as the wheels dug in every time Juergen tried to get us out of there. Lucky there was an embankment and Berta is stable on her feet, or we may have ended up on our side!
He quickly gave up on any chance of moving the truck out of this situation under its own power. We were well and truly bogged. I started to walk back to the Balneario to get some help, but the caretaker had heard us and realised what was happening. He was walking out to meet me after already calling for a tractor to pull us out. It was a bit of a wait but, once it arrived, Berta was soon underway along the slippery road, pulled by the tractor. I had decided to stay outside to photograph the operation, and ended up following them down the road on foot.
Since then we have been very cautious of driving down any road that is unpaved, and those that have any sign of fresh, deep wheel ruts are out of the question. There has been no more rain, but there is still a lot of water lying around. Thankfully the sun is now shining and we are hopeful that spring will triumph!
Have you ever slid off the road and become bogged?
Does the weather ever spoil your journey? Please comment below!