A night in a police station, and other stories

Well, it couldn’t be easy forever, could it?

This week marked a new experience for us: the Long Wait. Or, rather, the Looooooooooooooooooong Wait.

The day formerly known as ‘Wednesday’, but now renamed ‘The Abysmal Day’, began in a regular fashion, and indeed part of the abnormality of the situation was how normal everything else had been. On Monday we had managed a superb leap from Cordoba to Tucuman, despite a lull around lunchtime followed by a spectacular storm that lasted about four hours and included a lightning bolt almost tickling the car we were travelling in.

By this time a new Pablo had come into our lives, and happily our acquaintance lasted longer than the six-hour drive to Tucuman; we had dinner together both that evening and after a day’s chilling in the town, and on that morning he drove us to the edge of town to help us on our way.

So far, so normal. We had three short lifts to take us on our way to the mountain route between Tucuman and Salta, recommended to us as unmissable and most definitely preferable to the direct autopista. By this time we were outside a little settlement called Santa Lucia and landed on what we felt to be a suitable spot, shifting up and down the road a couple of times just to be sure we were in the right place.

At first we remained chipper, trialling different expressions to see if they might prompt greater success.

As the four-hour mark approached, however, the atmosphere was rather less buoyant.

By the time we had smashed all prior records (around four-and-a-half hours later), it was 6.30pm, and so we stopped. That’s right, we gave in to the situation and slumped towards Santa Lucia, which was clearly to be our resting place for the night.

The problem was, as we ascertained on our way into the town, there weren’t actually any hotels, hostels, hospedajes or any type of habitacion in Santa Lucia, it not being a magnet for tourist types. We checked out the church first to see if we might find assistance there, but although open it was empty. Next, a group of truckers informed us we could camp outside the town hall, which seemed like a Plan B kind of suggestion. This is how we ended up in the police station, drinking mate with the local force and kipping on a spare bed.

They couldn’t have been more accommodating (well, maybe the blaring music could have been lowered, but seriously, we were grateful).

The rest of the week has passed on a steady uphill slant, credited to two wonderful families. The first was Jorge and son-in-law Fecundo, who rescued us from our unfavourable situation early the next morning and proceeded to give us an excellent tour of the first stretch towards Salta.

The second comprised Sergio, Maria and their utterly delightful four-year-old Julietta, who were on their holiday from Buenos Aires and decided we were welcome for the ride. This led to us travelling with them both to Cafayate, an exquisite vineyard-surrounded town, and then on to Salta. The scenery has been mind-boggling, and our spirits are much revived.


Our hearts have been further gladdened after Sunday lunch with Maria, wife of Pablo (ref: San Luis to Cordoba) and their two children: chicken ‘n’ chips, chocolate ice cream, coffee, chatter. Perfecto.


Important notice: after visiting the toilet, be sure to wash your hands. Just be sure to check what’s in the sink first, too.

Total number of lifts: 52
Week Six distance travelled: 976 km
Total distance travelled: 6734 km



  1. Jajjaa you made me laugh with the picture of the sink and the chicken!!!! Great blog i’ll be reading it every week!!! Wonderful Sunday for me and my kids!

  2. What a mixed week! That long wait must have seemed endless. Glad that things redeemed themselves with those two lovely families showing such hospitality. Hope there are NO long waits this week! Mum

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