Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Clean Clothes at Last!

      Of the many firsts on this trip, one of the big ones so far was not being able to clean my clothes for over a week (last time I had them washed was when we got back from our 3-day trek in Bariloche). I am fortunately writing to you know with fresh, clean, warm and folded clothing by my side, it is a wonderful feeling.

    Anyway, the day after the glacier Carl and I were preparing to take a 24 hour bus drive (!) back up to the lake district in the afternoon. It was the only reasonable way we could get out of this uber-touristy area without waiting another week. We managed to get a ragtag group to come with us to the bird sanctuary, where we were lucky enough to see some chilean flamingos in the wild (I´ll post a picture, but they were very far off, we had binoculars though which made the view great in person). We had a lot of fun wandering around with our fellow travellers and even had a few stray dogs join us for the party (although they kept scaring away the birds, which was annoying).

     I was a little worried about being on that bus for so long, I had never taken a bus for even 12 hours and I´ve never particularly enjoyed riding them. However the ´cama´ buses in Argentina were like nothing I´ve seen. I´m talking real luxury seats with expansive leg room and almost fully reclining backs! I had no trouble falling asleep, although Carl was still too tall for the buses (he can only stand up straight on the stairs to the second level). Before I knew it a day had passed and we arrived in Esquel to see the Alerce trees.

    Unfortunately we had run into our first bit of bad luck. We could only find one hostel that would room us, but because the Little League Patagonia Region Field Hockey Championships were happening in town (?!) we could only stay for one night. We hashed out a plan to see part of Parque Nacional Los Alerces and be back in time for a bus to  El Bolson before tomorrow night. We tried to call it an early night, but the entire family of two field hockey players (sisters) demanded that we entertain them by speaking to them in English. It was the first night I had to use earplugs... and they somehow got up before us too!

     When we got to the park, we learned that we wouldn´t be able to see the part with the Alerce trees in the few hours we had. While the area we saw was nice (a beautiful lake, and a roaring waterfall) we wondered why we had tried to so hard to get to this park. Clearly the fates wanted us to get to El Bolson and fast. We hopped on a bus and a few hours were there.

     I´ve had a lot of firsts on this trip, but a truly unique one was having to take showers in our hostel in El Bolson in a bathroom with no curtain and no lock on the door (definitely had to reach a level of comfort with my hostel-mates). Now imagine that below this scene, a Wiccan ceremony is taking place, run by one of the locals in town, complete with cheesy spiritual music and everyone clad in black dresses, and you might have an idea of what El Bolson is like.  Overall, I really enjoyed this town, the self-proclaimed hippie mecca of Argentina (Apparently we had missed internaltional weed day with a full parade and small children running around with marijuana flags... oh why did we even stop in Esquel?!) This place has excellent organic food which made all the produce in town, as well as the food in the restaurants, especially delicious. There were so many farms nearby, Carl and I were almost set on looking into WOOFing here (if he didn´t have to get to Santiago in a few weeks, we probably would have).

     While our first day here was rainy, we had beautiful weather the other day, and got to take a nice bike ride up a mountain. We biked past amazing views of valleys and mountains (almost competing with the beauty of Bariloche) and biked through cool forests that had farms scattered around it. We both wished we hadn´t over-hiked ourselves, as this was an excellent  place for more trekking. We still had an excellent time and had many of the artesanal beers the town is famous for. We knew it was time for a change in scenery and so are heading back to Bariloche and then across the border to Chile (but not before we both try our hand a hang-gliding.... stay tuned!)

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