Comodoro Rivadavía

Argentina's answer to Houston, Comodoro Rivadavía is the town that oil built. Unlike Houston, however, there's not much here apart from oil drilling. Argentina's first oil discovery was made here in 1907, during a desperate search for water because of a serious drought. It was an event that led to the formation of Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF), among the world's first vertically integrated oil companies. After YPF's privatization in 1995, however, thousands were laid off, bringing hard times to Comodoro's 130,000 residents.

Surrounded by barren hills and sheer cliffs off the Golfo San Jorge, Comodoro looks dramatic from a distance. Up close, it's frayed around the edges. The charmless main commercial streets, where you'll find most restaurants and bars, are San Martín and Comodoro Rivadavía.

Because visiting oil workers occupy rooms for long periods of time, there is a nearly constant shortage of hotel rooms, so never show up here without an advance reservation.

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