Location: El Chalten - Buenas Aires, Argentina
100 hours on buses. In two and a half weeks. A hansome tale. There has been a lot of walking too. Hikes on Glaciers, hikes in the Fitzroy range to waterfalls, lakes, to amazing viewpoints. One day I walked for nine hours. With photo and food stops of course. The Glacier was my fave, having never seen such a site before. I got to walk on it and wear special metal ice shoes. (A glacier is a large, slow moving river of ice, formed from compacted layers of snow, that slowly deforms and flows in response to gravity.) I can't remember what the shoes are called. Then at the end of the mini hike we got to drink some whiskey with 200 year old ice from the Glaciers. It tasted good. I was snapping away with my disposable camera. Comes with flash.
The next day we went to El Chalten and headed to our hostel. Turns out it was a hostel / living with a native family type accomodation and it wasn't quite finished. The family loved Antonella and me, the daughter gave me a manicure and a make over and it was pretty good. She's only six. The local truck drivers used to hang out there too so the house was always busy. They told us that twenty years ago there was absolutely nothing there, El Chalten did not exist. Now you can just see how quickly it's expanding, lots of construction of new accomodation. I loved it there, it's very remote. I spent four days there. Just walking. Before the bus marathon. 42 hours on a bus in one go. Sure you get the odd 15 minutes at bus terminals but it was pretty much 42 hours straight. I should never be left alone that long. I basicly didn't say more than a few words for 42 hours. So when I finally got back to my friends apartment in BA I made up for it. It was just Ally and Diana there the boys had headed off to a music festival twelve hours away by bus. I laugh in the face of twelve hours. The girls followed yesterday. Basicly they have left me on my own in the flat because they said they would prefer it if I just stayed and watered the plants. Well first they said 'oh you won't like the music, it's not your thing'. Then they said about the plant thing. I've watered the plants. I tried to call them but they're not answering the music must be really loud. It's funny how they all left soon as I arrived back from my trip. None of the last 5/6 lines is true. But they did leave me on my own. All by myself. Just me. de dum de dum de dumxxxxxxx
Location: El Calefate, Argentina
I left Bariloche the day before yesterday at 3.30pm and landed in El Calafate at 10.30pm last night. You do the Maths. I kept clicking my heels and shouting ´there´s no place like El Calafate´but I didn´t find myself there. Just on a bus. For hours on end. Of course back in the day people discovered land on foot, horses, long haul boats, so my book tells me. That must have been tough too. Air con bus please. Majority of the time anyway. A bus really isn´t that bad. I slept well and there were a couple of ok films on, and I read my In Patagonia book. It keeps banging on about all the welsh people that are here, I hope I don´t bump into any.
I finally met up with Joe the Fish and his pops on Friday night. We ended up in an...Irish bar. Honestly there was no-where else. There is nothing bar wise between restaurant time and clubbing time. But there was a brilliant Spanish band on in there with a dead glam Flamenco dancer who Joey the Fish fell for. She was fantastic on the ol maracas. I could hear Joeys heart break when after the performance she returned in a red puffa jacket and ankle swingers. I think she was from Harrow. I will be dusting my puffa jacket off soon as I get back home. Pulling out my hairstraighteners from under the bed. (What bed I don´t know) Checking my fake tan is still in date and finding once again an air of attitude as I make my way round London town. It´s in here somewhere. People in South America are just so friendly, even in the big cities. I wish I could bring that home.
After the Irish bar the Fish and I were told there were no less than six clubs near by so we tried to hit them all. We only found four but everyone was at least five (that´s over ten for Joey) years younger than me. If I´m honest I´d say more like at least seven years. Ouch. But I still know a few moves.
The next day we did a tour of the lakes and Big Al drove. It was my first Lake District, stunning of course. Blue waters surrounded by greenery with snow capped mountains in the back ground. I don´t have a camera so couldn´t take pics but I made Joey take loads of me. I know he wanted to anyway.
That night I landed in yet another hostel. Got to practice my Spanish before meeting my friend Carla who I met in La Paz, and the Fish again. Much wine was consumed.
The next day I just hung out round town until it was time to get my bus. Have I mentioned I was on a long bus journey. Sometimes I could hear a little voice in the distance saying ´ do you want to play some cards cards cards...can I teach you to play chess chess chess...would you like some valium valium valium...´ That´s when I missed Ally and Aaron the most. Although it is also great travelling on your own. You meet lots of people you can do whatever you want. Although Ally and I do always want to do the same. Who am I kidding where are you Juanita!
Today I hung out with my Italian/Leamington Spa friend and we went to the Laguna which was very windy but felt very wholesome. Tomorrow I am going hiking on the Glaciers. I really can´t wait I already know it will be one of the most spectacular things I will ever see but I don´t want to build it up too much. After that I have another day here before I head to El Chalten where there are lots of free walks you can do around the Fitz Roy range. Or something like that. I will def be there for a few days. Toodleloo. xxx
Location: Bariloche, Argentina
Just before I left Buenos Aires Ally and I learnt the words to hit the road Jack. It was Ally´s idea. But my oh my did I have no idea how many, roads, hostels, locutorio´s (shops for phonecalls), internet shops I really would be hitting in search of accomodation. Finally I am sorted for the next five days and can relax. I have managed with my limited Spanish and it turns out it´s actually not that limited. Although it has limits. I just regurgitate the same 20 words all the time.
Two days ago I went white water rafting through a canyon in the Nahuel Huapi National Park. The day had started a little hung over after a night with some new friends and some red wine. It had also started with changing hostel rooms. Again. The rafting was excellent. I was put in the English boat after they realised I wasn´t a mute, I just didn´t have much Spanish. And I got changed in the mens without realising. Until the men came in. I told them in Spanish it didn´t matter because I had a swimming costume on.
I was definietly a natural at the ol rafting. And I couldn´t imagine doing it anywhere more beautiful. Towards the end, after we had passed all the rapids they told us to get out of the boat and we just floated along with the current. It was really relaxing. We then had a big parilla (barby). When I got back to the hostel I had to wait around for a room for ages. I then headed into town with a Uraguayan guy I met on the trip and I practiced my twenty words. Then another four Argentinian lads turned up and I practiced with them too. Practiced/struggled. Then I went to bed. But not before realising I had lost my locker key and would have to ask someone to break into it in the morning. Of course I dreamt I had found it. Things like that are far less annoying when Ally is here. Come here Ally.
So yesterday I went cycling along the chico circuito, which is a circuit around one of the major lakes with amazing views. It was pretty tough at points. I was always the first off my bike when we got to a hill. I blamed the gears I always do. After a tiring day and sore booty I headed back to the hostel to find out I did not have a bed. What to do. I booked a hostel outside of town but didn´t realise how ridiculosly far out it was until the driver of the taxi insisted on finding me somewhere closer. We went to about ten hostels. Finally I found a bed. He was such a nice driver, I don´t imagine Fleetline taxi´s in Harrow would bother. I was then supposed to meet Joey The Fish , a friend from BA, and his pops but it got too late and I couldn´t get through to his mobile so I chatted to my roomies and went to bed. WIthout dinner boo. I´m looking forward to meeting the fish a bit later. Then tomorrow we are getting a car and driving around the seven lakes. I heart lakes xxx
Location: Bariloche, Argentina
After 23 hours on the bus I arrived in Bariloche yesterday evening at 5.40. I actually slept alot of the way. They had some awful films on which was fine because I just wanted to listen to the Spanish on my ipod after realising I left my Spanish for Dummies book in Buenos Aires. I forgot a book for dummies. What does that make me.
For some reason I didn´t prebook a hostel at the most busiest time of the year in Bariloche. January is holiday time in Argentina and so backpackers have to think outside the pack, which I didn´t. After trudging round town I found a bed in a dorm. For a while I thought I would either have to book into a hotel or sleep outside with the St Bernards. They have them here. You can pay to have a picture taken with one. Pictures. I remember them, I used to take loads before my camera broke. I only noticed the funny sound and blurry screen today, as I was walking towards Cerro Campaniario, a mountain which has fantastic views of the Lake District. Not having a camera means I will have to simply enjoy the views without worrying about taking tons of pics. But I like pics. And what about the Ultimate Picture Show I have planned for everyone I know back home on my return. It´s a shame.
Last night I got an early night and was subjected to the worst snoring I have ever heard in my life. This morning I tried to make some decisions about the rest of my trip before taking a bus to Cerro Campaniario. I got the ski lift up, wondered around the top and then started to make my way down along a dirt path. I actually stumbled down the mountain in flip flops for a bit, which is really not practical, before realising I might go head first so sat down. But it was a tranquil spot so I stayed there for a bit and had a read. Then I got the ski lift down to save injury. Tomorrow I am going white water rafting, hopefully I will make some friends. I hope they are curly haired and smaller than average.
I still have not covered Christmas properly which I feel bad about because it was fantastic. But I have to write about my current trip first because I don´t have a camera to help me recollect. xxx
Location: Palermo to Bariloche, Argentina
Happy New Year everyone! I can´t believe it´s 2008 already. I can´t believe Barny is now drinking in moons, I can´t believe I am leaving Ally tonight for Patagonia, I can´t believe I will be home in a month! A month.
Christmas was brilliant on the beach. Xmas morning everyone got up and headed down to the beach to have a festive dip! I stayed in bed because I was ill but it sounded like fun. Yes ill all over Xmas and New Year. No drinking, less eating. That´s not what xmas is about no way. I still had a fab time of course. I still got presents. Mum had sent a Christmas box, my secret santa Huw bought me a lovely hat, Diana bought us all some matching bombachas and the boys brought us matching hotpants which are very us.
The week leading up to our vacation (goodness I needed a holiday) involved a lot of belly dancing, some sight seeing, the worst club with the best shiny disco ball in Buenos Aires and planning our trip. The night Huw Williams, Francis cousin arrived, we all went out for...Steak then headed on over to the worst club I mentioned which was a lot of fun. Over the weekend I continued with the ol Proof reading I had been doing for Diana and then on the Sunday we went to the Ecological park for a wonder. During the week I mainly concentrated on belly dancing and proof reading. My lessons were an hour long and it´s harder than it looks. For regular folk, I was fine. I´m pretty sure my teacher said I was one of the best students she had had. I was kind of hoping that one lesson my teacher would burst in with the awful news that one of the other dancers at the restaurant she danced at had fallen ill and they desperately needed another dancer to take her place. I would obviously then step up a little bit like Baby did in Dirty dancing. After my fantastic performance I would then get a permanent job to fund the rest of my time in Argentina. This only happend in my head (boo).
During the week Ally, Huw and Diana were all poorly. When Huw was recovered I dragged him to the Japones Jardins and then to the cemetary. That night Francis Huw and I went out to our mate Adrians folk restaurant to bust some Argentinian folk with the locals. I do love it. I can´t remember if I did anything amazing the rest of the week but on the Saturday we started our journey to the coast. We had decided to hitchhike. This involved alot of drama but it was a lot of fun. I have to go, I know this blog covers very little but I'm on my way to Bariloche!xxx