Destinations / JOURNEY
MY HUSBAND AND I slowed our silver sedan upon approaching the roadblock. In front of us, three gauchos on horseback gently urged a herd of at least a hun- dred bleating, pooping, chomping goats
toward the road’s shoulder. As we waited for the herd
to clear out, a cyclist whizzed by us, slipping through a
narrow gap between the goats on one side and a field of
purple-topped thistle on the other. Our vehicle wasn’t so
agile. Luckily, we weren’t in a hurry.
We were on our honeymoon, which began in the bustling
city of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, and moved
outward to the big-sky landscape of Patagonia. We chose
Patagonia for its wild and ruddy reputation, characterized
by endless tracts of untamed land, spindly rivers and marbleized mountaintops. For our first three weeks of travel,
we stuck to airplanes, buses, bikes and foot travel. But it was
only when we landed in Mendoza, Argentina’s wine capital,
that we discovered the benefits of forking over a few extra
dollars to rent a car, which gave us the opportunity to zoom
over the enormous pampas-strewn landscape without missing any unique cultural artifacts along the way.
From Mendoza, we made plans to drive to the pictur-
esque city of San Rafael, 150 miles south. The independence
of car travel shocked us at first. Thrust into the responsibil-
ity of choosing our own directions, we spent the first hour of
our newfound freedom snapping both at each other and at
the semifunctional GPS mounted on the dashboard. Adding
to the stress, we quickly learned that Argentina has its own
set of tacit road rules, which includes a blatant disregard for
lanes (or what my husband affectionately referred to as “the
Argentine drift”). We eventually adjusted to the aggressive
lane changes, rampant speeding and frequent sight of bicy-
clists tottering along narrow shoulders of busy highways.
The farther we drove away from Mendoza, the more we
relaxed our white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel.
Five lanes narrowed into two, and then to one. The coun-
tryside flattened out, the sky above it a solid mat of blue. In