The adventure begins...

The adventure begins...

“Inedito” in Spanish translates to “unheard of”. I didn’t know the translation of this word when I first heard it. I didn’t know how much I would later understand the meaning of the word.

The father of my son’s classmate, introduced me to the group. Initially Raphael had explained that he had a couple of friends who took off-road trips a couple of times a year to different locations throughout Argentina. These friends turned out to be a small “club”. A few guys taking autonomous trips over the years had become a group of over 10 enthusiasts and Inedito 4×4 was now getting one more “member”.

Raphael and I have a shared interest, which is not fly-fishing, but rather that we each own a Land Rover. The only similarity in our vehicles is the name and some aesthetic resemblance in the lines. He has owned a few “landies” over the years, and I have owned one for a little over a year.

His is a couple years old…

207 Defender Tdi

2007 Defender Tdi

…and mine just turned 52 years old.

1957 Land Rover Series 1 SW - 107

1957 Series 1 SW - 107

The first time I met the group of friends, was two weeks prior to the trip, at a dinner convened at the home of Christian, a tall, friendly dentist of German decent. I came alone and was afraid that was too early, since I was sure that my only connection to the group, Raphael, hadn’t arrived. I was dreading that awkwardness that goes with making conversation while sharing a friend, but not yet sharing a friendship.

But, the thing about the Argentine people is that they almost always try to make outsiders feel welcome by finding a connection or a common interest. It could be a city you’ve both traveled in, or favorite movie. And once you’re in, you’re in… for better and for worse, just like a really close family. They get under your skin. Fortunately, in my family, playful teasing is one way of showing affection. I guess these guys grew up the same way. Before long we were trading jabs over parrilla style pizza and very cold beer. [some of my favorite things…]

Eventually we got down to business and the purpose of the get-together. Anibal came prepared with topographical maps and had done some research with a guide [Gustavo Bruni] who would be joining us on the trip. He began explaining and sharing details with the group. Several maps, in fact, appeared as everyone gathered around the circular table, more interested in the logistics than the ice cream being served.

At this point I started to notice something familiar about these guys. There was a sudden change in their attitudes. The joking and hazing quickly evaporated and was replaced with the kind of enthusiasm that I often get when reviewing a river’s characteristics and course, checking my line weights, assortment of flies, hooks, weights, etc. before a fishing trip. I began to realize that these guys were more than just motor-heads. They had a passion too.

This is also when I noticed that once we left Highway 222, the area we would be traveling in was nothing but mountains…

(Thank you Google Maps)

A voice in my head, like Chief Brody and the most famous quote from the movie Jaws, said “You’re gonna need a bigger boat warmer sleeping bag.”

As we began to gaze over the topographical map, I quickly focused in on the squiggly lines trying to memorize the names of the rivers and streams as quickly as possible. Having grown up speaking English, it’s sometimes hard to remember Spanish names. Thank goodness I though to take a photograph of the map with my cell phone camera.

[Later I was able to cross reference the names of the rivers and lagoons with my friends and other guides. My friend Claudio had heard of the Rio del Cobre and Eduardo from Mendoza Fly Fishing also gave me some great tips.]

During the two weeks between the dinner at Christian’s and the first day of the trip, we were all rushing around getting prepared. Since there were several of us divided up between 6 vehicles, we decided to meet up in Los Molles, Mendoza at a hotel called Lahuencó [home to hot springs and a shrine to the late Victor Garcia; a auto-sportsman from Mendoza of Juan Fangio caliber] which, at a minimum, was a 10 hour drive for most of the group.

Lahuancó - Los Molles

Lahuancó - Los Molles

We all came in at different times. Most of us hadn’t slept much. I’d just returned from a trip to Central America, and had slept only one hour the night before. We were all so tired that few words were spoken around dinner, and we quickly ate and turned in, flopping into our bunks. The mattresses were thin, “aromatic”, and my pillow had seen more oily heads than Carroll Shelby, but I slept like a baby ’til dawn.

Breakfast was at 8am with delicious, strong coffee that put the wind back into everyone’s sails in addition to the adrenaline associated with a trip, long awaited and finally, about to begin.

At Las Leñas we topped off our reserve fuel-tanks, left 222 and started overland for five days of serious off-road exploration, the intensity of which I had hardly imagined.

“But wait, isn’t this a fishing blog?”

“Of course it is. I was only trying to build the anticipation add some suspense bring the reader, or anyone who might hope to fish this region in the future, to the edge of civilization and the point of departure for reaching the rivers and lagoons we later encountered.”

To be continued in Valle Hermoso, Part 2: Unfinished Business