We planned the ginormous trip about one week before departure. It was pretty cut and dry: pack for a week; drive three days; spend five days in the capital of Paraguay, Asuncion, for the World Mennonite Conference Assembly; drive home, stopping in Bariloche, Argentina to visit friends. It’s averaging 70 degrees in Asuncion, a definite incentive to make the long trek: escape freezing, rainy Puerto Montt. This was going to be so great!
Right now I’m sitting in a little hotel lobby in Eduardo Castex, in the middle of the Argentine pampa. The day was cold, but the sun shone brightly. It’s exceptionally dry in this area, and my face feels tight, regardless of how much lotion I apply. The cars whiz by on the highway outside the window. Last night, we ourselves were whizzing through when the car’s motor made a frighting bang and stopped. Dad steered us off the highway onto the grassy shoulder, and the rest of us put on our shoes and prepared to jump. Dad examined the engine and determined a serious problem had occurred. We gathered together and prayed the car would start, so we could drive back to the last town. A miracle took place as the engine sputtered to life, and we slowly made our way backwards. We arrived safetly to the little town, and a service station never looked so wonderful! After settling in at a lovely hotel behind the service station, we went out walking, searching for some Argentine steak. At the restaurant, a mechanic was waiting, and he and Dad talked about the car.
After a wonderful rest, the morning dawned gloriously and the day seemed full of hope. Dad stayed with the car, and the rest of us lounged in the hotel lobby. At lunch time, Dad gave us the lowdown: the car is out for at least a week. We will continue our journey by bus and will leave tonight at 9:30 pm.
In the afternoon, we visisted a park that has life-sized statues of dinosuars, watched TV and read at the hotel, and walked two miles further into the town where Dad and Mom bought bus tickets and Dad checked out the car’s insurance. We children hung out in the quiet plaza watching folks zoom around on bycycles and motor bikes. Because our car died, we were able to discover a sleepy little Argentine haven where our drive to keep on trekking was completely renewed. There is no great loss with no small gain. In this case, the loss and gain were basically even!
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