Dimitri changing the tire
Fortunately the car had all the necessary tools and within 45 minutes we were back on the road. About 12 cars passed by us and two of them stopped to help (but Dimitri said he didn’t need it).
After the flat, Dimitri started driving and we limped into La Rioja using the spare tire, doing no more than 80 km/50 miles an hour. Along the way we saw small memorials on the side of the road, presumably to commemorate the death of a loved one in a road accident. We’ve seen these in many countries, most memorably in Greece. The difference in Argentina is that around the tiny, dollhouse-sized memorials are hung red flags. To us, that makes the memorial look Tibetan. In Chile (and maybe also in Argentina) thes little houses are called animitas. In Teri McLachlan's Excursions for Expats, Chile & Neighboring Countries, she says "Many believe that because blood was spilled and death followed, a small part of the spirit or soul of that person is still at the site. People will pray to these spirits and many believe that miracles occur as a result."
The hotel that Dimitri had identified in La Rioja, Naindo Park Hotel (San Nicolás de Bari (o) 475, (5300), La Rioja, fono: 03822-470-700, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, web: www.naidoparkhotel.com) turned out to be fine. We took an Executive Suite: a bedroom, a living room with a sofa, 1 ½ baths and cable Internet at approximately AP$193/US $63 per night. (They had a stay 3 nights, pay for 2 so we decided to stay through Sunday.) We arrived during siesta and used the hotel’s sauna and pool while waiting for the town to wake up so we could find a new Michelin tire. Fortunately the town has a Michelin dealer and we replaced the two rear tires with the new model Michelin. That night we ate at the hotel and it was good.