Two nights ago, a couple folks from England told me that there were some flamingos in the reserve close to the hostel, so I knew I had to try to shoot them before leaving. So, yesterday morning, I hiked down to the reserve, hopped over the closed gate, and shot some birds, despite the fact that my four-legged friend who had followed me from the hostel kept trying to chase them off.
I got back around noon and that gave me a late start getting out of town. I stuck my thumb out at 1:00 P.M., but it was 2:00 before I got a ride. Moreover, my ride—Daniel—could take me only to the place where highway 40 heads north to El Chalten. He kept going East to Río Gallegos. It didn't take long for me to realize I had made a potentially significant judgement in error. It was now mid-afternoon—the sun goes down by 6:00—it was really windy, it was really cold, there were hardly any cars going by, and I was in the middle of nowhere.
I soon decided that I would catch the first ride that would take me to either El Chalten or back to El Calafate. Before long, Carlos, traveling around Patagonia for about a month on business for his company in Buenos Aires, picked me up and we headed back to El Calafate. My feet had to share the floor with three gas cans that he carries because of the sparseness of gas stations in these here parts. He gave me some cookies and we talked about the weather, both here and in other parts of Argentina, and about our travels. He agreed that things could've gotten nasty for me.
I was a bit sheepish walking back into the hostel after leaving only hours before, but they graciously took me back in. Carlos ended up staying here, too. He agreed with what I had told him—it's a wonderful hostel for a great price.
This morning, I got an earlier start. I figured more folks would be leaving a bit earlier in the day. Between 10:00 A.M. and 1:30 P.M., three cars pulled over. None of them was going to El Chalten. Being a wimp and not terribly dedicated to my cause, I headed back to the hostel. I was cold, hungry, and had to pee. If I were really a hard-core hitchhiker, I would've just peed at the side of the road. Granted, this isn't Rio de Janeiro, but I don't think anyone around here would've been terribly concerned.
A little while later, it started snowing.
I decided that I would rather feel like a failure temporarily than to keep standing next to the road freezing. I don't think here to El Chalten is a particularly high-probability route for hitchhikers. In the summer, my chances might have been better. As my good friend Brian T. would have advised me, I have given myself permission not to hitchhike this segment—I'm still not particularly happy about it, though. From El Chalten, I'll see how it looks.