Journeys in Latin America - January to June 2009

Monday, 2 February 2009

El Calafate - Argentina

I now find myself in Argentina, and in the sun! It has been highly pleasant wandering around in shorts and t-shirt with impunity...

Another interesting 6 hour bus journey brought me here a couple of days ago - a convoluted route which twisted and turned around to the SE of the Torres del Paine park. A couple of hours took us up to the Chilean Argentinian border, and two stops and a few stamps later I arrived in Argentina - in one of those weird co-incidences that occur now and then, the Canadian couple behind me in the passport-stamping queue knew one of the long serving BAS pilots, but had been out of contact with him for 25 years! I was therefore able to renew that acquaintance for them by providing the necessary e-mail address... Funny how things happen.

I´m afriad i slept through most of the rest of that journey, much to my disappointment, since the landscape is beautiful around that area - drier again than around Puerto Natales, and mostly consisting of low rolling hills with the odd tumbledown farm building here and there. Anyway, the bus got me to El Calafate, on the shore of Lago Argentino, a pretty little oasis. Most people come here to take launch a tour to El Chalten, in particular to see the nearby glacier calving - i however, am not too interested in taking such a bus tour, so i have been enjoying the more immediate and cheaper pleasures growing out of the ground or flying about. Cracking views from the little marshland waterfront a kilometre or two from my hostel, with flamingos, and geese of some kind, as well as other flying things. Plenty of horses to be seen too - a few of them being ridden by chaps that look (at least) like proper "gauchos" (cowboys).

The climate in itself is enough to please me, and it also allows the growth of pretty lush vegetation, and my particular favourite - lavender... I have been writing a lot, drawing quite a bit (i completely stopped doing this in the Antarctic), and working hard on the Spanish until my head hurts - although it hurts a lot more when you´re trying to book a multiple-leg bus trip and are struggling to keep up with the native speakers... Having said that the Argentinians are definately speaking Spanish! I wasn´t so sure in Chile sometimes... it almost had the blurred edges that i remember Hindi & Nepali having - each conversation just consisting of one very long word!

Last night i found out a bit of the less attractive side of staying in dorm rooms - at the moment i am in a small room with 2 bunks in it, and two of the other bunks were suddenly occupied last night by 2 of the noisiest Israelis i have ever come across - for some reason they were leaving early in the morning and therefore had to spend almost 3 hours in the middle of the night sorting out every single piece of their kit, which involved the light being on a much crumpling of plastic bags coupled with loud conversation... thankfully i can sleep through almost anything so it wasn´t too bad, but it´s an interesting thing to watch out for... as a lone traveller though, it is prohibitivey expensive to get a private room since they mostly contain 2 or 3 beds so you´re effectively paying twice or three times the amount just for the right to hear the noise though the walls instead of right near you, and to switch the light off when you want.... not much of a choice really!

It will be much easier i suppose when i meet up with my friend Vic in just over three weeks... This will be a very sweet moment, because she will be the first (and one of the best!) friends from home that i will see after 2 and a half years away from home. Very excited about that...!

So back to Calafate - I have pretty much tramped every street within miles, so it will be time to move on soon. I tried to book a bus ticket to Bariloche for tomorrow, but everything is booked up until Wednesday, so I will be heading North in a big leap during half of Wednesday and all of Thursday (its a 3 part journey of 25 - 30hrs) but which is really the quickest way to get north up the Andes. Bariloche has been recommended to me by quite a few people who have raved about the potential for mountain biking and walking and buenas vistas...

I have not (obviously!) worked out the photo uploading yet, but i will get some photos up soon...

More from Bariloche after that mammoth bus journey in a few days. Rob

1 comment:

-greenvolcanoman- said...

Thanks for the posts mate. All very interesting for those following your footsteps. Very interested to hear if you see any mountain bike potential. Cheers