= a frustrated Adam
22.10.2009 - 24.10.2009
The wet weather that Fillippe had predicted arrived but it didn't ease at all as we headed towards Argentina, if anything it seemed to get worse. Still there wasn't a lot we could do about it now and we passed through immigration without a hitch and were soon winding our way through the Andes. Unfortunately due to the bad weather we could not see much, I'm guessing it would have been a very attractive journey. Although we did see the first snow of our journey which was pretty.
Again we had booked our hostel so all we had to do when we arrived at the bus station in Bariloche was get there. We had no Argentinian Pesos and there was no cashpoint at the terminal so Adam managed to communicate to the taxi driver that we would need to stop at an ATM on route. Like Puerto Varas, Bariloche is like a ski resort, well actually it is one, in fact it is one of the main resorts in South America. It is up in the mountains, with lots of the cosy looking wooden buildings that have a warm, rustic appeal.
We pulled up outside the hostel, paid the cabby and rung the doorbell. No answer. We rang it again, and again. Then knocked, and knocked again. We could hear a dog barking inside but aside from that, nothing. It was bucketing down and there was no protection so we were getting soaked. Just as we were considering looking for somewhere else, another couple pulled up in a taxi. They started speaking to us in Spanish, to which we repsonded “no hablas Espanol” and then the lady swapped to English with a London accent. After all searching the outside for some alternative entrance for a few more minutes the front door swung open and a slightly surprised guy stood in the doorway. It turned out he was a guest and he had no idea where the owner was. We hurried in to the kitchen and now out of the rain we all introduced ourselves. The couple were Emily and Jordi. Emily was originally from London but had been living in Barcelona for five years which I'm guessing is where she met Jordi who described himself as Catalan rather than Spanish. The guy who let us in was from Colombia and he was staying in a little outhouse, so it was quite lucky that he'd come in to the main building and heard us knocking.
As the place was pretty much deserted and we didn't know which rooms we were staying in we set about making a cup of tea. Then the phone rang and it was the owner Augustina. She spoke to Jordi first, then to me and explained she'd had a family emergency and had to leave town. There was going to be a girl called Lucia arriving soon but in the meantime she told us which room was ours. It was a sweet little room, in the eves once more with a mountain lodge feel. Soon after Lucia arrived and introduced herself. She gave us a map and pointed out the main things in the town and were would be good to eat. By now it was about 8pm and we were both hungry so we ventured down the hill in search of food.
Bearing in mind the standard of the restaurant, dinner was really good value, although perhaps a little more than we should have been spending. The restaurant wasn't really fancy but it would have been considered a nice place at home and they gave us bread to start, I don't think we've had that since we've been away. Afterwards I felt a little guilty because it was more my idea but then it had been very tasty, there was no denying that. It was freezing cold outside as we walked back up the hill and we were both pleased Lucia had given us an electric radiator.
When we woke up the following morning Adam walked over to the window and said 'it's snowing!' I went over to have a look and sure enough everything was dusted white.
It hadn't stuck to the roads so it hadn't been too heavy a downfall, but all the roofs and gardens had been covered with a pristine blanket of pure, glistening snow. After breakfast we wrapped up as much as we could, which wasn't a lot really because most of our clothes were purchased with hotter climates in mind. Then we wandered down in to town to have a look around and also to try and get some information about where to go next.
Our next move was proving to be a complicated business. Emily and Jordi had flown up from El Calafate the previous day and they advised that this would be the most efficient way of getting there. This is because there is no direct road, well there is, the Ruta 40 but it would not be open for another month. It is closed over the winter as it is unsealed so conditions can become very unfavourable. Having looked on the net it seemed like it would be cheaper to fly from Buenos Aires and so we were considering catching a bus there and booking a return flight. In town though we were told the price of the bus to the capital and soon ruled this out as an idea.
The snow was still coming down and we walked down to the lake to have a look at the mountains and their freshly covered peaks. However as we were no closer to knowing what we should do next we walked back up to the hostel, via the supermarket and spent a good portion of the day trawling the internet for information. This is always a frustrating way to spend a day but unfortunately it is often necessary, especially when you're watching the pennies. In the end it became clear that the only viable option was for us to take three buses back to back which would total about thirty hours. The first from Bariloche to Commodoro, then on to Rio Gallegos and finally to El Calafate. The first connection would be really tight and if we were delayed we could end up sitting around for about seven hours. It was a pretty unappealing prospect but having read all that we had about Patagonia, with the glaciers, lakes and mountains it really sounded like a now or never situation. We both knew if we didn't make the effort we would really regret it later. It wasn't going to be cheap either but we had to push the budget from our minds and concentrate on the experiences we would have.
Having come to a decision we caught a local bus to the terminal and booked our ticket for the following day at 5:15pm. Then went back to hostel, ate our supermarket bought dinner and hit the hay.
It was still snowing the following day but luckily Lucia didn't kick us out at 12pm.
Instead we sat around in the lounge area and tried to find a cheap place to stay in El Calafate. Emily and Jordi were booking themselves a bus north, they had another six weeks in Argentina and wanted to find the sun again. I could see their point, although we were both enjoying the full on winter weather. It seemed a bit of a novelty after all the sun we had had in Asia, and we both enjoy the cold as long as it isn't accompanied by rain. Although for Adam it was a little frustrating as it was a bit of glimpse into what it would be like in the middle of winter and he hankered for a snowboard and the steep slopes that would have been available a few weeks earlier.
The day soon sped by and it was time to catch the bus to the bus station. We both crossed our fingers and hoped the next thirty hours would go by without a hitch.
Laura & Adam