Monday, January 21, 2008

"You wanted diesel, right?"

The adventuras never stop. The morning was supposed to be a quick stop to buy empanadas and gas up the car before high-tailing it out of El Chalten. However, the gas station attendant filled up the truck with ½ a tank of diesel. We were pretty much screwed for a working vehicle after that, and in this town, which has little going on besides a 3 hour dirt road to the next town; we were marooned by a “maroon”. Blame it on the fact that it was early, or that here green means unleaded gas and all other colors are diesel (I didn’t line up the car correctly). Whatever, we pushed the truck to the back of the lot and sat around for a bit. I thought about going on another hike.

The “gas station” attendant returned from his little room. He makes it all good by jacking up the truck, disconnecting the gas tank, and siphoning the entire tank by mouth into an assortment of buckets, jars, and cups. I watch him wipe the hose clean with an oily rag, wondering which is cleaner. He spits and gags each time he has to restart the siphon, and we all look away like we’re witnessing a tiny train wreck. I try to distract myself from the situation by petting the dog, then notice the dog is a walking shop rag. I look down at my hands and resign myself to the fact that the filth is inescapable. Han takes notice and rummages around in the vehicle, which is still jacked up and bleeding diesel, and hands me a pack of handi-wipes.

Twenty gallons and two hours later, with a fresh full tank of free gas, we crossed the little bridge and got on the road. Rentals cars can be a nightmare when they break (see our post about tires), but sometimes you just have to laugh.

I shudder to think about all the crazy stuff this truck has been through before we received it. It’s certainly just barely surviving now. The windshield is cracked in several places. The doors have been blown open by the wind so fiercely they are dented around the hinges. The tires have only a memory of tread, mostly of plugs and patches. The alignment is not to be mentioned. But overall, the truck is great – it runs like a champ. It goes forwards and backwards, and if you turn the wheel enough, you will end up where you like.

Originally written: 29 December 2007 by Jim

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