Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The new book (Spanish Version) and its consequences

Vagabuendeando en el Eje del Mal - Redescubriendo Irak, Iran y Afganistán a dedo is the Spanish version of "Vagabonding in the Axis of Evil - Redecovering Irak, Iran and Afghanistan by hitch-hiking". With 176 pages it is my first published book, and it is availbale in libraries across Argentina. When I continue my round the world trip, in febraury 09, I will continue to sell more humble, self-publshed versions in order to keep me traveling.

The book, in the shelves of Alejandría Libros, Mar del Plata, during the Book Fair.

Official presentation of the book, in the Teatro Auditorium´s Bodega space. The event was conducted by writer, and former editor of my weekly column in La Capital newspaper, Fernando del Rio. You can see The Wizard (my backpack) seated next to me.

Buenos Aires, december 16th. Presentation of the book at MU Cultural Centre, and picture exhibition. Some 80 people attended the event.

People trying to make sense of the nearly 600 pictures I dared to project on big screen during the event. Pictures showed meaningful moments of my 27 months long hitch-hiking expedition from Ireland to Thailand via Middle East and Afghanistan.

Signing books in Mar del Plata´s Rotary Club, who invited me to exhibit the same pictures in their venue in the cities harbour.

The book at Mar del Plata´s Book Fair

"Vagabundeando en el Eje del Mal", the Spanish version of "Vagabonding in the Axis of Evil", my last book based on my hitch-hiking journey across Turkey, Syria, Irak and Afghanistan has just been printed. I had the chance to promote it inside the Book Fair that takes place every year in Mar del Plata´s Hotel Provincial. Above, you can see the ad of my book presentation.

With the Wizard, my backpack, and the Michelin World Map I have always carried with me showing the route of the trip. In my hands, the new book, that will soon be in English as well. It was a pleasure to be there, meeting all those readers that for years have followed my chronicles in La Capital newspaper, now meeting them face to face... You can order the Spanish version of the book online at www.acrobatadelcamino.com/vagabundeando.html

Richard Hardwood reloaded.

How could I know, when I first met Richard in the mountains of Northern Pakistan, that he was going to be present at my book presentation two years later in Mar del Plata, my city. It turned out that sooner of later, this 60 years old brit on a round the world tour with his BMW R-100 had to by pass my beloved city...

What none of us could have predicted, is that our meeting up would be casted on TV for thousands of people. And that happened. When the Book´s Fair Press Chief knew the story, he sent cameramen to the streets to wait for Richard´s arrival...
I had met Richard in Chitral, Northern Pakistan. At the moment his bike´s electronic starter was broken, and Chitrali mechanics, in the absence of owner´s manual, were looking for solutions in the Holy Coran...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Buenos Aires, meeting point for travel writers...

I have spent a few weeks in Buenos Aires, where I have been quite busy both getting the new printed Spanish version of my book (Vagabundeando en el Eje del Mal) and selling the old one in the cafés at Palermo area. Being in the big city also allowed me to meet in real life fellow travel writers, mostly in -or just back from- long term traveling.
In the picture, you can see me with Herman and Candelaria Zapp, whose journey from Argentina to Alaska in a 1928 Graham Paige has inspired hundreds to hit the road. The weird biike in the picture is an oniricycle. And it will be my vehicle in the next leg of my round the world trip, from Argentina to Alaska, from Feb 09. I hope tthe meeting with the Zapp family brings luck to my humble vehicle.... Herman and Candelaria website: www.argentinaalaska.com

I also met Katja and Augustas, who have been on the road for two years, on a journey they started in México and completed southwards by thumb. Katjia (Germany) and Augustas (Lithuania) report their journey in www.followtheroad.com Katjia is now prepearing a book they hope to sell as they continue traveling....

I attended an informal meeting organized by Pablo and Ana Rey (www.viajeros4x4x4.wordpress.com) They have been 8 years on the road, in a Mitsubishi van. Their journey through Africa has been really impressive, and they have put it down in a book they offer through their website, though it may be difficult to find where to clic!

Ezequiel Fernandez traveled from Argentina to Mexico on a 1979 Renault 6... as he likes to say "looking for my way" . He is now about to publish a book titled "Con la nave" (With the ship) that will soon offer online (Spanish version only) at www.viajeenrenoleta.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Road tatoo

When the road penetrates your skin, your soul does not belong you anymore...
Model: Nicolás, from Buenos Aires. Five years traveling South America.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

On the dry, hot and thirsty roads of La Rioja

On the way from Jachal, San Juan to the hitch-hiker`s meeting in Cerro Colorado, Córdoba, we had to cross deserted La Rioja Province… In the beginning we thought we had made a bad move when accepting a ride to Talampaya NP...
Not so many cars on the road, as you can see. We even had time to invent possible "Quilmes" adds targeting hitch-hikers...

Tipic landscape in Argentinean Norhwest.

Thumbing shadows...

... but then we got on the wave. hitch-hiking is like surfing, you have to catch the wave...Let´s call it "roadsurfing" on the pic, the truck that took us to Chamical, La Rioja.

Near Talampaya National Park, La Rioja.

Camping under a bridge in Cruz del Eje, already in Córdoba Province.

Time to clean the backpack!

A neccesary laundry session for "La Maga", my backpack. La Maga is named after a character of Julio Cortázar´s novel "Hopscocht".

Mogna, stoic and isolated...

It is clear to me that towns in San Juan province, Argentina, should be independent kingdoms. Each is proud of its kind and lineage, and without thinking too much of itself would prefer not be included under confusing and labels… Mogna is an example of it…
On the way to Jachal we had been shocked at the sight of a road sign pointing 6o km inside the desert to a town called Mogna. Once in Jachal we got to know that the town was celebrating its 255 anniversary and managed to get a ride in a pick up from the town hall. I offered to set up a Photo exhibition of Afghanistan as contribution to the event.

The idea, show pictures of Afghanistan to the people of Mogna, and take pictures of them to show elsewhere. Doña Raquel Carrizo (70 years old) was very happy to be photographed while preparing mate. She carefully adds yerba and ajenjo, a local plant. She always sits under the same tree, that was already an old tree when she settled there 50 years ago. Her family lives from livestock herding, specially goats.

Hands at work... Doña Raquel knows how to prepare the best mates...

More than a hundred people had "goat" barbacue on the anniversary lunch. Even the governor was there talking all sorts of bullshit. He arrived in helicopter to a town with no paved roads.

I got permission to set up the Photo exhibition in a classroom at the primary school. I am intending, from now on, to set up photo exhibitions in each town I drop by on my way from Argentina to Alaska (starting Feb 2009). An interesting fact is that you receive very different feedbacks depending in each place you go. And these feedbacks become raw material for analysis themselves. People in Mogna regarded the landscapes of Afghanistan shown in my pictures as familiar to them! Also, some people at Mogna, were happy to buy my book.

Sunset on the way back to Jachal.

Weath nostalgia

The Molino Sardinia is guarded by his last carer, Don Chicho, who is 80 years old and talks soflty about the times in which the nearby road was full of trucks waiting to load the essential grain.

Houses around Pampa del Chañar, San Juan, Argentina.

There was a time when Jachal was a prosperous wealth producing region. Evidences from this period are not immediately obvious nowadays. Driving in the direction of Pampas del Chañar, houses that look suspectufuly large and sturdy start to emerge in the dusty landscape. Before the Pampas region positioned as the main exporting region, Jachal sent its loads of grains to Chile and Bolivia. In the 1900s, when the railway connected the Pampas to rest of the country, the region became logistically isolated and decline. Still, the mills used to process wealth can be seen.

After 50 years working....still there. i think I couldn´t possibly work in the same place for more than five months, and would definetly not stay for fun in my workplace for ten or twenty years, I guess he is making some overtime...

All the machinery inside the mill had been imported from Germany.

Children´s day in Tres Esquinas, San Juan, Argentina.

Radio Antena 1 from San Juan city sponsored a party for the children at Tres Esquinas, a rural district near Jachal, San Juan, Argentina. There was chocolate for everyone and of course many games. Differently from expected, the organizers suggested old traditional games, as trying to bit a hanging apple with your hands tied....!

Car dumpsites: waiting hall for the karma.

Where some people only see old cars rusting away I see a request, a humble patience of old parts to reincarnate. At some point, somebody will enter Pedro’s place and ask for parts for restoration…

In this picture you can see Steven struggling to unscrew a part of a 1960s Bergantin. Somebody had just walked in and asked for the speedometer as well.

1960s Auto Union

Inside the Auto Union.

1960s F-100 Ford pick up.

1940 Ford pick up and a constellation of tyres.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


On arrival to Jachal, our local contact, Pedro Robledos, quickly gave us a tour of the place. Not the kind of tours where you tick off monuments and sights, but a revolutionary one. He was involved in all local issues in the way you would advice anybody to be, and exlpained us the whole conflict with Barrick Mining Company, among the different foreign companies that have established mines to extract gold. In exchange for a few jobs, the mines polute the rivers which are vital for agriculture in the region. And of course they have teamed up sociologists and pasicologists to convince the population they the commit a sustainable and harmless activity...

But you can see what people actually thinks...

A painting exhibition in town. If you get close you can see the hopeless faces of this family.

Steven discussing different issues with the artist.

Pedro and his friends, from jachal, San Juan Province, Argentina. He was a great host!


After a couple of hours waiting, we managed to stop thi fabolous vehicle. It was my first ride in such big machines... The driver had been driving similar cranes in remote locations as Turkmenistan... Average speed: 40 km/h

Our driver prepearing some mates.


We arrived to this lonely crossroad on Road 40... and hitched for two hours with non results...so just decided to stay overnight in the old station.

Road 40. San Juan, Argentina.

Our tent, inside the station.