Key Man Award

We were in the small town of Villa Union (about 200km North of Mendoza, Argentina). On the street I came across Miguel a key cutter, working out of the back of an old combi van, sounds pretty normal until you look at the setup. He was also living in the van, and when you opened the side doors there was all his kitchen goods and possessions, that was a teapot a couple of glasses and a cooker. He had a couple of seats on the pavement and offered a cuppa to us. Inside was a droopy very single bed and a couple more boxes of assorted tools. A local arrived and got a key cut for a few Pesos.
Meanwhile we explored the mechanicals of this vehicle that looked pretty “mad max”. There was an huge external mounted radiator on the front, yes I know VWs don’t have them but this had been modified, and the motor in the rear under Miguel’s work bench was a marvel. It was an old ford, 1200cc type, with loose wires hanging. Don’t touch it if it ain’t broke type. His socks hung over the radiator drying or just freshening up in the breeze.
Later when I was walking home from the Carnival parade he was sitting out with a couple of mates having a cuppa and chatting, and they like most Argentinians I passed said “good evening”.
What a perfect existence, low carbon footprint, simple food, worthy work and the look of a contented man. One of my travel companions remarked that his stress free look could be due to his apparent woman free life, travelling with cynics is hard for the idealist in me.
Miguel should be a contender for man of the year.

Later that night the big shake happened. I bet the VW felt more secure than the hotel we were sleeping in.

2 Responses to Key Man Award

  1. Neal Meachen March 1, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    Brings back memories of our 2006 motorcycle trip. In terms of Chile you could take the old road to Santiago (not sure about customs on that road), which avoids the tunnels. It’s over a pass road of around 3,800 metres. You’ll need to double back to Uspallata.

    Otherwise if Chile is off the agenda , plenty more to see on the Argentina side of the Andes. Would sugest down to San Rafael (wine country) , Chos Mala , Chaviahe and near by thermal resort Copahue (stunning scenery).From there carry on down through Argentina Patagoina (see our 2008 trip for route )

  2. John Grace March 2, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

    Sigh, Key Man’s van brings back memories of a certain bus!

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