Las Horquetas, Argentina
Date: Lodging: Distance: Total:
23/07/2001 Hosteria Las Horquetas 252 KM 196541 KM

After a meal, everyone uses toothpicks.

Jose Hernandez serves up delicious vegetable soup.

The crowd grows, the wine flows and television becomes less important.

Gas-field workers glued to the television during dinner.

Laura, the cook and fixer-upper at Las Horquetas

Carlos Mansilla, Jose Hernandez and Jim at the Hosteria Las Horquetas, a ‘roadhouse’ with restaurant, bar and a few rooms for the nearby gas-field workers

Supplies offered in Hosteria Las Horquetas

Sheep, horses and cows live in snow and sub-zero temperatures in Patagonia.

A cloudy, wet mist covered sunrise this morning in Tierra del Fuego.

23 July 2001 – In southern Argentina and Chile, there's a mess of petroleum and oil. Last night in Cerro Sombrero, we stayed in a nice enough hotel by my standards after 2.5 years on the road, used mostly by visiting petroleum officials visiting the nearby plant. Right beside it was a hotel under-construction, which looked as though it would be top-rate upon completion. So tonight, when a man directed us to a hotel for gas workers 80-km away, I anticipated something akin to the new structure we'd seen in Cerro Sombrero. Really, I wasn't expecting the Petroleum Club or The Ritz, but I did have expectations beyond a five-roach hotel.

Those expectations were dashed when we arrived to find the simplest of place with small, dank, smelly rooms holding four or five bunks, with blankets and bedspreads that haven't seen a washing machine in decades. Plus, the heating unit did nothing to warm the temperature in the room, which felt much too similar to the –13 C temperature on the outside. This place really was for the gas workers! I couldn't imagine any oil or gas top-dogs staying here and I said to Jim, "Jim Harkness wouldn't stay here." His response, "He's stayed in much worse." (We met Jim Harkness back in Lagos, where he’s head of Texaco.)

But sometimes places like this provide us with a better evening than generic four and five-star accommodations. We had a blast here eating a wonderful dinner of soup – and I think eating the thick, steaming hot, vegetable soup warmed me entirely for the first, and only, time all day, coupled with a delicious bottle of wine served by a waiter wearing a tie. The gruff gas workers laughed at a woman (me) staying here in their ‘camp’ and Jim and I made friends with the hotel manager and his wife. Later that night I fell asleep with six blankets and two bedspreads over me.

  Hydrocarbon Hostels (Jim)