In "Daddy's Car." As in the children's classic of Pipo Pescador, the Peugeot 404 that Pablo Delonghi (53) bought towards the end of 2019 is synonymous with rides, and with it he has already toured more than 110 towns in the province of Buenos Aires.
For more than ten years, Delonghi searched for a car just like the one his dad had when he was a boy. Until he found it: "It's the same color: half bluish, half greenish, and it changes according to the time and how the sun shines. And besides, it's almost the same model because my dad's was a '66 and this one is '67."
While the letters of the patent were like a kind of sign (VIP 319), the 404 of '67 does not have glass lifts, hydraulic steering or air conditioning. "That's the beautiful thing: you have to handle it," he says optimistically. And he says he has an old-school mechanic who gets spare parts and keeps it "always spotless."
On Route 7, the town of Cortínez, Luján. Photo Pablo Delonghi
But how did you go from buying a car that reminded you of childhood to becoming an influencer?
"I live in Los Cardales, in the party of Exaltación de la Cruz, and the idea was to go for a walk or go to classic car meetings," says Delongui, who has worked at the Mitre Railway for 28 years.
Then, he began to take pictures of nearby towns -such as Capilla del Señor or Luján-, uploaded them to his Instagram (@viajandoenel404) andeveryone began to tell him that they looked like historical photos, with the car in front of old facades.
Delongui says: "One day, near Luján, in an abandoned gas station on Route 7 I took a picture of 404, I made a half-vintage filter, I uploaded it to the IG and the photo exploded... They even debated whether the image was current or not (they realized it from the patent)."
The 404 and, in the background, the Epecuén Slaughterhouse. Photo Pablo Delonghi
From that moment, with the addition of followers (currently has 59,900), he began to expand the horizon: "Within a radius of 80 or 100 km there are many villages, so I went back and forth in the day. And because people liked it, I started going a little further, looking for almost abandoned routes and villages."
Villages without train
As is the case of Patricios, in 9 de Julio, where "almost everyone used to work on the railroad. There were workshops, a hotel opposite the station, goods were transported... And suddenly they were left with nothing. Now there are only older people because young people go to study in the cities and do not return."
Being a railwayman, Delongui lived closely the years of privatization: "I remember the time when the branches were closed, the villages were left without a train ... I wanted to go a little further and see what happened to those towns where the train stopped passing, see how those people survived without transportation or good roads in the province of Buenos Aires."
Pandemic and rebirth
With the arrival of the pandemic, isolation and the need to go out with the car to make a getaway outdoors, Delonghi witnessed the renaissance of rural tourism: "Many inhabitants of the Province began to embark on small tourism ventures, from reopening general stores to setting up country restaurants. Because as you could not travel further, domestic rural tourism became fashionable."
Visiting Saavedra. Photo Pablo Delonghi
For example, in a town called Las Marianas, near Navarro, the owner of a country restaurant kneads ravioli on Sundays and gets crowded.
In many places you have to book in advance because they do not have infrastructure and the whole family works.
"The food is homemade and has the taste of what the grandmothers cooked. They serve you like at home, they get excited when they see you arrive, they handle other slower times and that's what people are looking for: relax in the countryside and rest from the city, "explains Pablo Delonghi.
Visiting the cemetery of Laprida. Photo Pablo Delonghi
How do you organize your trips?
As he relates, he is taking vacations little by little, like the last longest trip he made recently, in which he visited the southwest of the Province, visiting Coronel Pringles, San Jorge, Las Martinetas, Laprida.
"All these places have monumental sculptures, the heritage of Salamone's work in cemeteries, in the municipality ... Suddenly you see a cross 35 meters high in the middle of the field, "he says, after having traveled 2600 km in a week.
With the 404 visiting Hinojo, Olavarría. Photo Pablo Delonghi
"Traveling alone on the road is my therapy"
Although Pablo is married and has grown children, he always travels alone in the 404: "It's my therapy, I go along the road and I clear my head, I come back very renewed and it does me very well. And my wife doesn't really like to travel this way, so everyone is happy."
Generally, it stays in inns or hotels in the cities where it is based and moving. But in Urdampilleta, near Epecuén, he was invited.
Because with more than 59 thousand followers on Instagram, many offer him to stay or eat in exchange for a photo on their social networks. Sometimes he comes to a place and they make notes on the village radio.
Pablo Delonghi in his father's Peugeot 404. Photo Pablo Delonghi
The car leads to the talk: "uh, I had one just like it." When people see it, they approach it because the car is a magnet and many bring back memories. It has also happened to him to walk on the road and have them honk at him, take pictures and then send them to him.
It was the first car I got in (he has IG photos as a kid, sticking his head out of the sunroof), and they are the first memories of trips to the grandparents' house and vacations in San Clemente," he recalls.
Moonroof? Yes, except for the taxis – which were diesel – the Peugeot 404 had sunroofs.
A current photo on his 404, touring the province of Buenos Aires. Photo Pablo Delonghi
As the car does not have air conditioning, in the last summer – which was so hot – he traveled much less because "the car also suffers, which raises temperature."
He has already visited more than 110 villages and the idea is to start traveling to other provinces.