In addition to repairing my windshield, changing the oil on both vans,
and recharging my air conditioner in Buenos Aires, Tyler and I wanted
to refill our propane tanks. I had been warned that the fitting for
our tanks would not be available in South America so I bought the parts
I thought I needed in the US. I was still a little unclear on the concept,
though. In the US, to refill the propane tank, we drive the van to a
big tank, commonly available, a hose is attached, and the tank is refilled.
In South America, nobody goes to the big tanks; people just replace
their empty tanks with a full tank. So the only way to fill our tanks
is to use a small tank and connect our tank to that tank with a hose.
So while I had the right parts, I didn't have a hose to connect the
Westy tank to another propane tank. So we started searching for the
hose and another fitting to attach to the end of the hose. It took a
whole morning and at least 5 different stores. One for the hose and,
after going to 4 places that sent us to other places, one for the fitting.
Finally we had what we needed to refill the tanks! Eduardo offered to
help us get the tanks filled. It turns out that it's against the law
to fill tanks in Buenos Aires so we drove at least half an hour to get
to the city limits of Bs As to a propane yard where we got the tanks
filled. And we need to do this every 2 weeks! Outside of major cities,
though, stacks of propane tanks are a common sight and we hope that
this becomes more of a routine for us.
We were very confused about our friends in Buenos Aires. We thought
that all of our Amigos were members of the same club. Not so. Neither
Eduardo nor Guillermo were members of the VW Club and neither of them
had met the others.
However, finally, we all managed to get together when the Volkswagen
Club of Argentina invited us to dinner at their club. And what a clubhouse!
Their monthly meetings are held in an old mansion in a very beautiful
part of Buenos Aires, on the same street as several embassies. As I've
mentioned before, I really like wine, and we never managed, in Venezuela
and Brazil, to find good wine undamaged by the brutal heat. When we
arrived at the clubhouse for dinner, a table was set up with wonderful
hors d'oeuvres and a chilled bottle of champagne. I immediately said
"Umm. Some of that for me!" It was a very nice champagne (Chandon,
I think) which I enjoyed too much of. We had a really wonderful dinner
and really enjoyed being with other Volkswagen fans. Last year a group
of 50 VW Beatles did the trek to Ushuaia. Having driven that road now,
I must say I'm really amazed that they did this. All of these VWs are
very old - at least 30 years old! They really make our Vanagons seem
like new cars. But, I have never seen old vehicles so clearly loved,
so beautifully cared for and preserved! The dinner was the best we've
had in South America.
I knew that I had a bad CV boot but I thought it was a front outer.
Eduardo had crawled under to have a look and discovered that it was
a front inner, not the outer. He went with me to a shop that specializes
in CV boots (Really! Just CV boots!). He then offered to take me to
Jorge's shop the next day. Jorge is Polish/Argentinian and the best
VW mechanic I've ever seen and a member of the VW club, so I'd met him
the night before at the dinner. He actually had experience with Syncros!
And, in his spare time, he should be a standup comedian. I was elated.
He took a look at my brake pads and discovered them to be nearly non-existent.
The spares, of course, were back at the hotel in Tyler's van. Another
member of the club was with us in the shop. He immediately went a block
or 2 away to look for brake pads. Amazing! The vendor had the original
German pads! Jorge not only replaced my CV boot, and changed the brake
pads but they took me out to lunch and to a warehouse store (like Sam's
or Costco in the US) to shop for wine for the holidays! All in all,
a wonderful day with our wonderful Argentinian friends.