Saturday, February 21

Patagonia 1

After leaving Buenos Aires shortly after the New Year, I flew to Neuquen, a petrol city in the south-central part of the country.

Luckily I was able to make use of Couchsurfing while there, and stayed with Daniela, a local girl who lives with her 5 year old daughter. Since Neuquen is largely an industrial city with little tourism industry, it would have been quite boring to stay in a hotel.

The streets often aren't named, but divided into blocks, where each block has a letter and number. Yet even these aren't marked, and the only way to find a street is to ask for directions while wandering around.

Also, the buses only accept pre-paid cards, and to get such a card, you have to be a resident of the town. Anyone from out of town has to ask if someone will swipe their card for him in exchange for the money the trip is worth.

Still, it's obvious that Neuquen is a city of opportunities. There is much more wealth on display than in other parts of the country, which is of course due to the amount of oil in the area. You can also tell that the city was assembled quite hastily. For instance, it's very difficult to walk along the sidewalks, as they aren't in a straight line, but tend to zig zag between the curb and the houses, and often go up and down in the form of stairs.

It also feels like a fairly protected city, spared from as many ghettos as other towns. There's also a sense of tranquillity that's missing in many other parts of the country.


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