South of Comodoro Rivadavia, there’s heavy truck traffic and plenty of reckless drivers on winding RN 3 before arriving at the oil port of Caleta Olivia. Its forlorn appearance gradually improving, Caleta (pop. 36,323), south of Comodoro 79 kilometers, is a crossroads for westbound traffic to Lago Buenos Aires and the Chilean border.
The only conspicuous sight, dominating a rotary that marks the town center, is the Monumento al Obrero Petrolero (1969), popularly known as “El Gorosito.” Facing north, Pablo Daniel Sánchez’s 10-meter sculpture of a muscular shirtless worker turning an oil valve symbolizes thinly peopled Patagonia’s contribution to (or exploitation by) the populous heartland.
It’s also an oblique reference to authoritarian president Juan Domingo Perón, whose most devoted followers were working-class descamisados (“shirtless ones”).
Accommodations and Food
Hotel Capri (José Hernández 1145, tel. 0297/485-1132, US$19–27 s, US$27–35 d) has rooms with shared bath or private bath; breakfast is extra. Hospedaje Rodas (Matheu 12, tel. 0297/485-1880, US$22 s, US$31 d) offers good value with private baths. Posada Don David (Hipólito Yrigoyen 2385, tel. 0297/485-7661, posadadondavid [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$33 s, US$38 d) has similar offerings.
Expanding Hotel Robert (Avenida San Martín 2151, tel. 0297/485-1452, www.hotelrobert.com.ar, US$45–54 s, US$50–59 d, with small discounts for cash payment) is the top hotel here; its restaurant, La Rosa, comes recommended.
Buonna Pizza (Independencia 52, tel. 0297/485-2653, lunch and dinner daily) also has a variety of takeaway empanadas. Down the block, El Puerto (Avenida Independencia 1060, tel. 0297/485-1313, lunch and dinner daily) is best for seafood and parrillada.
Heladería Centro (Independencia 1175, tel. 0297/485-3721) has fine ice cream.
Getting to Caleta Olivia
From the Terminal de Ómnibus (Avenida Tierra del Fuego 850), 15 blocks northwest of the Gorosito sculpture, there are northbound and southbound services along RN 3, plus westbound connections to Los Antiguos and Chile Chico via paved RP 43.
Typical destinations, times, and fares include Comodoro Rivadavia (1 hour, US$3), Puerto Deseado (3.5 hours, US$12), Río Gallegos (10 hours, US$32–48), Los Antiguos (5 hours, US$27), and Buenos Aires (26 hours, US$75–110).
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition