A little after 6AM. Lyndon's alarm rang.
A few minutes passed and mine rang.
It's always hard to crawl out of bed, adventure or not. After soaking in the last remnants of warmth from my lent cot, I finally, rather begrudgingly, got up and prepped for the trek ahead.
Filled water bottle, check.
Camera wrapped and stowed, check.
Snacks (very important), check.
Lyndon got up from his cot and did the same. When we were ready, Lyndon knocked on Javier and Sol's door to let us out. I could never wake people up. Sleep has always held such a sacred space for me that I've always found it extremely difficult to cut anyone's dreams short.
We hobbled down the stairs, still a bit asleep, out the front door, through the gate, hugged and kissed Javier and Sol and started heading off.
"Hasta la vuelta, chicos!" They chased us with one last sentiment. Until your return, kids!
It's always a little bit more difficult to hitch a ride within city limits, so with Javier's suggestion, we walked to a bus station and took a bus and got off at a trucker stop near the edge of the city. The same exact spot Miguel had dropped us off almost two weeks ago. The sun was just beginning to rise. We wandered around asking trucks for a hand in helping us continue on our journey. We hobbled around awkwardly striking up conversation with anyone behind a wheel for a few hours without any luck until Lyndon suggested that we walk down the national route and throw our thumbs up into the air, like we did at Bahía Blanca. Out of ideas myself, and feeling a bit low after being turned down so many times, I agreed. So we walked down the side of the highway, taking turns strumming random chords on the guitar while the other stuck out his thumb at anything with wheels.
Anyone who's hitchhiked anywhere will tell you that rejection is normal. Some go days without successfully hitching a ride. Luckily, Argentina's asphalted backbone, Ruta 3, had been kind. And in the crisp Patagonian air tampered by the hot sun blazing across the flatlands of southern Argentina, a black SUV veered off the road onto the gravelly shoulder of the highway.
"You guys coming or not?" A middle-aged man's head popped out the window, yelling in our general direction.
Accommodating our packs into the back seat, we settled in, Lyndon in the back with the bags and me in the front. Without much more than a smile and a hey-how's-it-going, we were off. Most will say no, some will altogether ignore your existence like some phantom from a Jack Kerouac novel. But, luckily, all it takes is one smiling soul to pull over and the journey continues.
We did the normal pleasantries, introducing ourselves, describing our faraway homelands, searching for something in common for interesting conversation. His name was Daniel, and he liked to practice his English, so we spoke in this lingua franca, each straining to neutralize his accent. It took some time before Daniel even asked where we were heading. Ruta 3 is long, stretching north and south. Wherever we were heading didn't really matter, since we were heading south just as he.
"We're heading to Comodoro Rivadavia," I said, "we've got in touch with another traveler from that city and he's agreed to house us for a bit."
"Ahh, that's kind of him," Daniel said, not looking away from the road. "Well, I'm headed to Trelew, so I can't take you all the way there. But I can drop you off at a petrol station where a lot of truckers pass by so you should be able to make it to Comodoro Rivadavia by the afternoon."
"Great," I said smiling, still not fully believing our luck with hitchhiking. "That would be really helpful!"
The conversation drifted toward Australia and it's sun-drenched beaches. I looked out the window looking for the random llamas dotting the vast landscape.