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“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” - Lao Tzu

18 February 2010

Building muscles in Bariloche

After our lovely stop off in Puerto Madryn we headed to the spectacular mountain town of Bariloche, where we all fell in love. The hostel we stayed at Refuigo Patagonia has the most amazing set of owners that are so kind and caring. This little mountain town nestled in the the jagged mountains of the northern part of patagonia is just like a swiss mountain town. Although this pueblo is the largest in patagonia it still has that small mountain town feel. Despite being very touristy because of the skiing in the winter and the trekking in the summer it is still one of our most favorite places in patagonia. I love it so much I am considering living there, the problem of course is the work visa and finding a job.

Let me tell you though having desayuno everyday looking out at this view from the kitchen makes you want to stay in this tranquillo mountain town forever. It reminds me that the rockies have spoiled me and that I will never be able to get the mountains out of my blood.

The other amazing thing about Bariloche besides the swiss mountain town feel, the chocolate, the amazing views, and the hostel we stayed at is they have amazing trekking. Let me tell you our first trek of this trip was very epic. We went for three days two nights and did a total of 30km over two mountain passes. Since it was three days and there is so much to write about I will refer you to Doug's blog for the second day account http://dougsouthamerica.blogspot.com/ and Morgan's blog for the dinner fiasco of the second night and the third day account http://hokeblot.blogspot.com/

Our first day on this trek was amazing, beautiful stunning and fun for all of us. We had 8,5 km of uphill hiking to do and we were ready. Throughout the day we often felt the heaviness of our large packs but we expected that and rested when we needed too. The day was hot with lots of flys (yeah for me and my natural bug spray!) but these things were only small prices to pay for the beauty around us.

After 3-5 hours of hiking (I can't remember exactly how long it ended up taking us) up to the first refuigo we arrived tired, a little sore but ready to get our tents set up and eat some dinner.

The first challenge of this was choosing a camp spot. Although there were several spots already set up one had to be wise in their choice because the wind was whipping around the mountain top and was not stopping any time soon. We ran into one of our friends from the hostel who had set his tent up in the afternoon and by the time he came back from dinner it had blown into the valley and only pieces remained. So we choose our spots and began to set up our tents. Doug and Morgan ended up moving theirs, and I had a guest to help me set up mine. A cute little white cat that's home was in the refugio decided to come crawl under my foot print while I was trying to keep the rest of my things and my tent from being ripped out of my hands by the wind.

After a few hours of getting blown around we finally got our tents set up. When I finished mine I went and helped Doug and Morgan build a little rock wall near their tent in order to give them a little more protection. After heading back to my tent and putting even more rocks around my rain fly in order to keep the wind out I just sat there listening to the wind and enjoyed the beautiful sunset.

While trying to keep warm and debating on whether I was actually hungry enough to leave the little warmth that I had in my tent to head over to Morgan and Doug's tent for dinner they came over to my tent. I am not sure if it was the hunger or the exhaustion from the hike that made those sandwiches so amazingly good, but they were definitely amazing.

Here are some more photos from the first day of the trek and one from the second day that I had to put up just to make sure it made it to the internet for all to see!

So head over to Doug and Morgan's blog for the next days of our trekks. After the trekk we returned to Bariloche for a few days where we decided to make the long journey to the end of the world....

10 January 2010

What goes with Amorcitos, Acampar y Animales.... oh that's right All night drum circles!

Oh the joys of travelling. Now begins the real journey of discovery... Morgan, Doug and I took this plushy, cushy, lovely bus from BA to Puerto Madryn... 18 hours on a bus is nothing when you get to sleep for most of it... excited upon arrival we then began looking for the bus to get closer to the campsite... although I was already highly aware of how heavy my backpack was in BA and lost a kilo there, the point was drilled home when we walked a kilometer up hill to the camp site. The campsite was nice but we were surround by people, not exactly a relaxing get away but it did not matter, we were off to Puerto Piramides the next day... we began slowly to realize as travelled on buses, and looked up information about places to stay the prices in the guide book we had were a little out of date, so we decided to metaphorically throw out the guide book, talk to locals and only use it in desperation. The day after we arrived we awoke tired, but excited to get to see some animals at the Penninusla Valdez and for our move to Puerto Piramides...

Upon arrival to the campground at Puerto Piramides we soon discovered a shanty town of tents, campers, homemade tents out of tarps etc... the cost of course was overpriced for this overcrowded shantyville. After checking with other local vagabonds to make sure we were not being given the gringo price we wandered around and staked our tents in sandy squalor. After further inquiry of those in the actual pueblo we found out that the animals that we had come all the way to see were located between 55-75 km away... this presented a problem for our travelling ways since our means of travel usually entails, buses and our feet. We then discovered the only way to accomplish what was becoming a spectacular feat of trying to see some penguins, that not only would we have to be tourists and take a little van around that stops for you to take pictures but that we would also have to pay an arm and a leg for it. At this point I would like to mention my amorcitios... Doug and Morgan... I call them my amorcitios when maybe esposos is a more appropriate term... since we are pretty much married on this trip it seems... we have slowly been working out the dynamic of trying to meet the desires and needs of three different people, which as with anything always takes time... at this point in the journey, our disappointment, grunger (that is grumpy hungry) and exhaustion from travelling began to take hold (did I mention that I was already sleep deprived from the all night babble at the hostel the week before)... well needless to say we were about ready to cut our losses and run when instead we decided we needed to salvage this sector, just deal and spend the money to see some animals. After all they were the only reason we had come to the Atlantic side of Patagonia. Our tourist trap tickets in hand we then decided to lay on the beach, finally our tension and stress from the day began to release. Over a warm, cheap dinner of pizza we decided our crappy day merited us a reward which would be spending the next night in a hostel in Puerto Madryn, instead of camping (this was a whopping $3 splurge for us... we are really cheap down here, and I mean REALLY cheap) So we had it set, amorcitios working out our dynamics, acampar (camping) for that night and from the night before, and animales set for the next day... the day had been salvaged... what more could we ask for right? Well little did we know we also must have wanted ALL night drum circles and motorcycle rallies. After going to bed at a reasonable hour so we could get up early the wind began to howl furiously, this is when I learned that my tent is not sand proof when I do not pull my rain fly tight enough. No big deal, I can deal with a little sand in my tent, so back to sleep I went... well next I woke up to the thumping beat of drums a few meters away... OK getting a little frustrated at this point, but this is why I have technology, head phones on and I am back to sleep... ah.. finally sleep... then 3 am rolls around.. I had no idea that not only were we sleeping in a shanty town with all night drum circles but somewhere we missed the posting for the motorcycle rally that was supposed to come through at 3 am. As the rumbling sound and sand from the motorcycles hit our feet, I began to question, what the hell am I doing here... finally when I decided to give up around 6 am to sleep and just pack up my stuff in order to get ready to go for the day, the drum circle participants decided this was the appropriate time to finish their beats and head to sleep... they definitely got the fiercest groggy look of death I could manage at that hour. The next day went off with out a hitch... although I wanted to stab myself in the eye because of the fact that we were in a tour bus and at every stop there was massive amount of people,

I thoroughly enjoyed the seals, sea lions

and penguins...

especially those majestic Magellan penguins...

We got to our hostel that night and enjoyed some lovely showers and rest, along with more dynamics work and some logistics planning, we made some amazingly smart decisions. First we all realized our time in Patagonia is one of the most precious things to us for our trip, so we cancel our ticket back to BA in February and decided we are skipping out on Carnival in Brazil (probably better for our safety in the long run). The next morning was further logistics work and after scouting info and making phone calls we knew we had to get to Bariloche as soon as possible... forget the train in viedma, forget all the other stresses we would have to deal with going to another town, we were heading to beautiful Bariloche... Well the bus station thowarted our ambition to get to the mountains, a little. We found that one of us was leaving that night and two would follow on Saturday, no big deal a few days apart does us good. So Morgan and I stayed hanging out on the beach in Puerto MAdryn for a few days, Doug headed to Bariloche and made tons of friends in the hostel here and started planning our treks. As for now, I am sitting in Bariloche, in my hostel, overlooking the beautiful lake with the mountains in the background, while Doug and Morgan play chess. We are headed to a 3 day trek in the Patagonia mountains, and I can tell you that this is why I came here. I travel because I want to learn, learn to communicate better, learn to travel on my own and with my friends, learn to let go of expectations and planning, learn to just go with the flow. This is why I came here, to struggle, to enjoy my time with my amorcitos, to acampar, to enjoy the animales, and even the all night drum circles. I love the struggle, my friends, and the joy of exploration. Next I am off to trek for 3 days in the beautiful patagonia mountians and after that, who knows. Until next time... Chau Besos!


09 January 2010

From Ba to the Beyond

Well my final week in BA turned out to be totally different from the first two weeks. First I met a vegan from brazil named sara, she was really sweet and I geninuely enjoyed her company and spending time with her. The best part is that I have someone to visit when I get to Brazil. My final week at my quite little hostel in BA turned into a giant party. People, tons of people arrived for the holidays. The hostel became party centeral so sleep depervation became a consistent theme in my life, not because I was partying but instead because the room I stayed in was located between the common area and the patio. This ideal location meant that quite moments for sleep in my room were between the hours of 10 am to 4 pm everyday. One of the best parts about meeting sara was that she loves to read and we found this amazing gigantic bookstore in an old theatre... isn't it beautiful!

Additionally I enrolled in a spanish course for my last week. Although my spanish and confidence in conversation had been vastly improving from the constant talking I did with other guests in the hostel I was really hoping to imrpove my grammar. My classes turned out to be me paying to have conversation and get a little grammar on the side, needless to say I was not thrilled. I was geninuely enjoying my time by myself cooking, reading, knitting, meeting tons of new people and having lots of new conversations when suddenly the 31st arrived. This day brought with it two of my dearest friends to ring in the new year with me in Buenos Aires.

Doug and morgan, brought laughter, joy and excitment for the next step of adventure. While in BA we of course attempted planning (which in many ways was a success and in others was a failure... see next blog), some sight seeing (the cemetary in recoleta was eerily beautiful), general recovery of jetlag for them, and of course the beginning of the epic south america adventure!