We woke up at 5:30AM to the sound of barking dogs. It was still dark but we managed to pack up camp and make coffee thanks to our headlamps, which were a great purchase. We left Daymán at 6:30AM and headed to Paysandu to cross the border to Argentina. We chose to cross the border at Paysandu rather than Salto because the area around Buenos Aires (Entre Rios) is notorious for corrupt cops who stop foreigners for bribes. This route is generally from Uruguiana to Buenos Aires, surrounding the Uruguayan border. In order to bypass some of these cops we crossed at Paysandu. We also filled up the car before crossing because foreigners get a 24% discount in Uruguay.
The immigration office for both Argentina and Uruguay are located on the Uruguayan side and is just one office. We arrived at about 7:30am and there was no line, we just presented our documents paid the toll for the bridge, AR$70, and were on our way. Once we crossed, the time fell back by one hour which was nice because it felt like we gained an hour.
Once we crossed the bridge over Rio Uruguay, we practiced extreme caution while driving so the cops wouldn’t have any extra incentive to stop our Brazilian car. From Paysandu to just past Buenos Aires was about 4 hours and we were always on edge, worried about being stopped for bribes (we heard that we would be stopped every 50km), but we were never stopped! We got very, very lucky! We don’t know if it was because we went really early in the morning (most of the cops we passed were sitting at their posts drinking Maté) or because Argentina cracked down on the corruption but nothing happened to us. We only passed a few posts with policemen anyhow and none of the cops even noticed our car.
We continued driving towards our destination, Santa Rosa, passing a few tolls that weren’t so expensive (between AR$2 and $14). Once we got to Ruta 5 we noticed signs saying that it was “La ruta del quesos” (the cheese route) and knew we had to stop. We found a very cute and tiny place on the highway called Fermier, where they make many artisanal cheeses and salami right on site. We purchased a delicious smoked cheese for AR$19 (for a nice sized slice) but prices ranged from moderate to very high depending on the cheese. We then continued on our way and finally passed through our first Argentinian cities.
In Suipacha we stopped to buy some SIM cards for our phones and decided to go with the company Movistar because we had been told it was the best in the country. You can purchase SIM cards at any kiosco (small shop/drugstore) and costs AR$10 for the SIM card plus the amount of credit you choose to put on the phone (we put AR$30 each).
After lunch, we continued on our way (still pretty far from Santa Rosa). We filled up for the first time in Argentina and it wasn’t pretty. It is about AR$9/Liter for regular gasoline, which for us is about R$4.50 and that’s damn expensive! But it’s a necessity so we didn’t have a choice. After we filled up, we encountered a “summer storm” on the highway; the winds were very strong and started moving the car and the crazy rain didn’t help either! It was good because it cooled down the extremely hot temperatures but just be careful in this situation because you will be in literally the middle of nowhere with few cars and no cell service so you don’t want to get into an accident. Also be aware that about 75% of the roads we have been driving on since our trip began are 2 lane roads and Argentinians pass very quickly and very often.
We finally arrived in Toay (a bairro/neighborhood just outside of Santa Rosa) at about 6:30PM, after 13 hours of driving. We were going to have our first CouchSurfing experience and were pretty nervous but we arrived and our hosts were so incredibly nice, welcoming, and so helpful! We were greeted by Maxi and his super friendly smile! Dani and I were nervous about the language barrier but we all managed with our mix of English, Spanish, Portuguese, and even some Italian (thanks to Dani). We cooked dinner, talked about our travels, and relaxed by the pool. We had such a great time with Maxi and his girlfriend, Maria! We finally got to sleep in a real bed and were excited about our new friends :)
- Left Salto @ 6:30AM
- Crossed border to Argentina @ 7:40AM
- Arrived in Toay @ 6:30PM
- UR$55 = Toll @ Peaje
- UR$1000 = Gas [UR$40.60/L] – with 24% discount
- AR$8 = Toll
- AR$14 = Toll
- AR$45 = Map
- AR$19 = Fermier Quesos (Ruta 5)
- AR$80 = SIM card + recharge [AR$10(card) + AR$30(charge) x 2]
- AR$12 = bread
- AR$275 = gas [AR$8.87/L]
- AR$2 = toll
- AR$4 = toll
- AR$81 = dinner
- Total = UR$1055 + AR$610