Matt & Erica Chua: Dreams Come True: Route 40

I have been testing a life theory.  I state what I want to as many people as possible until someone says, “you know what, I’d be happy to _______ for/to you.”  It started as a joke that if someone won the lottery, I’d make myself the easiest friend to shop for.

When a friend suddenly find himself with too much money and want to show their generosity, with who do they start?  It’d be hard, I mean, what do you, newly rich, gift to your still proletariat friends?  If this happens to any of my friends as soon as they start thinking of what to give whom they’ll realize: “Chua wants a Bentley!  I can do that!” In their post lottery winning exuberance they’ll get me one, then start working down the list of other friends.

As days pass the realizations of not being as rich as imagined will settle in, the tax bill becomes real, and with each friend the gifts will become less and less glamorous until the newly minted friend is handing out Mentos, individually, not even whole packs, saving the rest of his winnings for himself.  Of course, I’ll be rolling like Kobe Bryant in my Bentley while other friends’ fresh breath is wearing thin.

A Bentley she is not, but she made the impossible happen.

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever get a Bentley, but say you have one sitting in your garage, not sure what to do with it, and you read this…you consider how much joy it would bring me and give it to me, after all you’re clearly rich enough to gift a Bentley if you just have it sitting around…(I’m also looking for a Rolex, another thing I’d never buy myself, but would bring a smile to my face every time I get to answer, “do you have the time?”). In testing this theory over the past few years I’ve gotten many things and opportunities I never really expected.

For example, we had one of our best experiences in South America, road-tripping Argentina’s Route 40, because I saw two Brits with a car and “suggested” they take us along.  We had five unforgettable days, made lifelong friends, and laughed all the way up Route 40.  It was a perfect example of how, if you just say what you want, people that can provide it often just say, “if it makes you happy, why not?”

For those less interested in legendary road trips, the Route 40 also is a trail of some of the world’s best gelato, micro-brews, and barbecues.

Our first evening in Bariloche, Argentina I was sitting in our hostel’s common area and saw two guys come in from a car. As they unloaded I day dreamed of how nice it must be to have a car, to travel the expanses of Argentina on my own time, my own schedule, instead of the 20+ hours on buses I had ahead of me. As I cooked dinner later, I met one of them as he explained to a local that he was roadtripping Route 40 with his friend.  I worked my way into the conversation and talked about where they had been and where they were going.

The wife and I then headed out to have some beers at the locally famous breweries and returned to find the car’s drivers enjoying a few boxes of wine.  The rest of the details allude me now, but we joined them for boxed wine drinking and I eventually brought up their roadtrip, how awesome it was, then followed with, “so when do we leave?”Oftentimes such an indirect comment isn’t caught, but these two immediately understood what I was saying and proposed leaving in a day or two.

The Route 40 is known for empty, expansive, scenery that puts the scale of the earth in perspective.

Waking up with that “too much boxed wine” feeling the next day, I thought the conversation may have signified jovial banter rather than commitment.  Then I ran into Matt in the hallway and he mentioned they may need another day in Bariloche before leaving.  I realized then and there that it was on. We were going to get to road trip part of Argentina’s famous Route 40, one of the world’s longest roads which passes some unparalleled scenery.

Let’s pause for a moment.  See the connection between stating what you want and it coming true?  It has worked for me more often than not, just not to the scale of a Bentley or Rolex…yet…

The Route 40 is just a few years from being turned from a rural road to a highway, where ageless scenes like this may go extinct.  We knew if we were to do any part of it, now would be better than later.

After several days in Bariloche we headed north with an eventual destination of Mendoza, Argentina’s wine capital.  Along the way we’d stop to enjoy and take in the scenery.  Best of all, we got to know our travel companions, Matt and James, wonderful guys from the UK.  I think we shared and learned more about each other in those few days than any of us expected.

Progress in progress.  One of many places that the Route 40 is being modernized, losing the unpredictable nature which attracted previous generations of travelers and vagabonds such as Che Guevara.

I think my parents were supposed to teach me not to get in the car with strangers.  Clearly they never taught me this or I just didn’t listen.  Traveling I have gotten in the car with more strangers than people I know. The reality I won’t tell your children is the getting into the car with strangers is fun, in fact, it’s among the most fun and interesting things I do.  This was no exception.  The four of us spent our days in the car talking, learning and sharing.  Not only did we make superficial friends, but we got to know them, joining two best friends and hearing about their lives while sharing our own.

Gorge+boys+rocks=rock throwing competition!

In all our days on the road, these stand out as some of the best.  We had the opportunity to do something we couldn’t have on our own.  We got to see sights we wanted.  Most importantly though, we got to make friends by sharing in someone else’s experience. All because I learned to state what I am interested in and see what happens…more often than not, I’ve found that I get more than I ever hoped for.


NOTE: It’s not Bentley or bust for me, I’ll be the happiest person you ever met if you were to give me a Ferrari, Lamborghini, 911 RS or Turbo, or Aston Martin.  Got one of those lying around you don’t know what to do with?  Send it my way!


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