I arrived in Buenos Aires on Monday morning and we had the afternoon to explore the city. We visited Evita’s grave and enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Las Nazarenas. We ended the day with an over the top Italian dinner at Sottovoce. On Tuesday morning we piled into a King Air 200 and flew two hours west to the province of La Pampa. Our six-day adventure includes hunting pigeon, dove, parakeet, giant perdiz, and even wild boar. We landed at a small rural airstrip and were whisked to a beautiful estancia in old Toyota Land Cruisers.
In particular, one of the Land Cruisers deserves special attention. This vehicle did not get the cushy street life of most Land Cruisers sold in North America—This car was not used to drop the kids off at a soccer game in Greenwich. This is a Land Cruiser with character and a life story of abuse and hard labor! The photos speak for themselves, but this 1999 Land Cruiser has a certain wonderful patina and character. Despite the dirt, mud, and general wear and tear, the old Land Cruiser has held up very well given its age. The roads down here are brutal—rough and tough. They are mostly unpaved with heavy sand and deep ruts. They are full of bumps that punish suspension systems. This eighteen-year-old car is a testament to Toyota quality and durability. It has not had an easy life down here in Uruguay and Argentina. I can’t imagine a Range Rover from a similar vintage holding up to the pounding that this Land Cruiser has been enduring its entire life. In fact, I can’t imagine a modern Range Rover holding up to the beating the Land Cruiser received from us this week!
The seats are soft leather and now have the look and feel of a well used Hermes saddle. We drove the Land Cruiser at high speeds across rutted muddy roads and there was hardly a squeak or rattle. With just over 150,000 brutal miles, the Land Cruiser still feels tight. The outside has serious paint damage from years of off roading. This week alone we have hit over a dozen tumbleweeds at fifty miles per hour. The tumbleweeds scrape along the side of the car like nails on a chalkboard! The Land Cruiser just keeps going and doesn’t blink an eye. Part of its identifiable character is that only half driver’s side mirror is intact and the front turn indicator has long been missing.
Over the course of a week, I have gained an enormous amount of respect for this special car. Last night I found myself searching eBay to see if I can find one in the States. Maybe there is one in Fairfield County with 100,000 easy “soccer mom” miles? I’d be happy to put one of these in the Turtle….