Racket Boy – An autobiography by Philip George

The Tough Always Get Going – Path to 2024

I left General Conesa at around 11am on New Year’s Eve, headlights mandatory. Made a quick stop at a Chinese supermarket for fruits where an old man in a Fiat Truck gave my Renault Kangoo a slight bump while reversing. No damage done, and he, wearing a Panama Hat, apologized with a lovely grin. I returned the smile.

I was heading towards Gaiman, a town along the Chubut river that preserves Welsh customs. where I planned to rest my head after 370 km to cover. I picked up two German hitchhikers – one praying, the other with her fingers out. Informed and exposed, they made for good company, until I them off at San Antonio Oeste.

Back on my own on the vast open landscape, Argentine blue skies, straight telegraph poles, and smooth, well-marked roads. Driving is such a pleasure in Argentina, which led to occasional thoughts of future wanderings around the globe as well as reminiscing past travels. The anticipation of a pit stop at a Parilla for the customary Asado and salad added to the joy.

Just as I was thinking what a way to start the New Year, there was trouble on the road from Trelew to Gimam – a sudden engine failure in the evening. There I was stranded in what felt like the middle of nowhere – what’s new for Racket Boy? I was in a similar situation on my last backshadowing trip in India with Geetha three months ago when we had a flat tyre, also at dusk in a remote area when we managed to get to a service station in the nick of time as they were closing. Twists and turns seem an inherent companion in my journeys!

Despite being New Year’s Eve and with poor internet signal, I managed to get my Renault Kangoo, with me, towed to a YPF service station outside Trelew. My rental company, Andean Roads in Buenos Aires suspected a potential issue with the engine belt.

On New Year’s Eve, I slept like a baby in my wounded but cosy Kangoo to bring in the New Year, at yet another YPF station providing a temporary haven.

The first day of 2024 was spent delving into finances, budgets, legal work and my travel journal. A message from Cristian Lopez, a boy I met at the YPF at General Conesa injected optimism: “Oh, a small inconvenience, it won’t stop your trip! I hope it is resolved soon.”

I thanked him and told him I’d draw from past travel experiences, optimism and problem-solving skills honed as a solicitor to deal with the setback.

In a message to Andean Roads, I proposed engaging a certified Renault garage for an urgent engine check and repairs to resolve the issue promptly, and for me to continue my journey hassle-free.

Their response outlined logistical considerations as it was the holiday period, assuring an effort to arrange repairs promptly. Acknowledging the circumstances, I expressed understanding, emphasizing reliance on the Andean Roads team’s judgment as they have been accommodating and reassuring to press.

Adventure to distant places carries risks and complexities, with encounters and contracts often posing challenges, especially across different jurisdictions. Andean Roads, a family-run business, was doing its best, and I knew full well that what I was going to make of the coming moments was what mattered.

With gratitude for the journey, the mishaps, and numerous unexpected camaraderie, I embraced the New Year with a renewed sense of determination to conquer the road ahead, knowing very well I’d have to stay put in Trelew until the problem was resolved.

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