Monday, March 1, 2010

Shaken not Stirred

So Marc and I just got to the first computers we´ve been at for 5 days to a slough of emails from people hoping that we weren´t caught in the earthquake in Chile. Earthquake? That´s what we felt while we were sleeping the other night. So yes, we are all safe and sound.

So Marc and I arrived in Bariloche after hiking our 4 days route through the mountains near Bariloche. We spent that afternoon running like mad fools to find a car rental company, load up on groceries, get laundry done, etc..etc.. we did it all through. And after a good nights rest in a well deserved kinda fancy hotel, we had our car delivered at 10 am and we were off in the wild blue yonder by noon. Our goal was to drive north up to San Martin de los Andes through the spectacular landscape of ´la routa de siete lagos´. Up we headed through mountain passes, on gravel roads past pritine lakes and steep drops down! We decided to spend the evening at a small lake called Laguna espejo chico (meaning little mirror lake). We parked the car, set up our tent, then spent the rest of the plutzing around in the water. Trout fishing in the area is suppose to be spectacular and we got to watch several people fly fish in the lake and its stream. Such a relaxing afternoon and evening after a busy morning and some dusty driving. To top it all off, the camp site had a cat, who we named Franco Fiore, we also fed him lots of scraps. He loved us very much and begged to come into our tent at night. We were tempted.

Day 2 of the car rental!
Off we went from our beautiful little lake onwards to a small village (Villa Traful)We poked around there for a while, soaking up the beautiful scenery before heading back up the dusty road. After an hour or so we finally hit pavement!!! The windy roads were so much more scenic without all of the dust flying around. We picked another lake to camp by (Lago Falkner). The camp sites here are for the most part clean, well serviced with bathrooms, hot showers and bbq area. All of that, a place to pitch your tent and beautiful waterfront views for about 15 canadian per couple. What a deal. That night I woke up for some reason and Marc said, do you feel that? Yea, what the heck. It felt like the whole tent was rocking back and forth. We were feeling the earthquake that left Santiago Chile in shambles. To us, over the mountains in Argentina, it felt like our tent was resting on a giant hammock that was swaying back and forth. Dogs started barking at each tremmor and the lake that had been so still suddenly had waves lapping up at the shore. We of course didn´t realize that Chile had had an earthquake, we assumed that it was just a small localized tremmor.

Day 3 of the car rental.
Up we drove to San Martin de los Andes. A very pretty little town with similar beautiful surroundings as Bariloche but without the huge hordes of people and tourists. We hopped on a boat that took us across the lake to National Park Lanin where we had a very nice lunch on the shore, looking out over the water at the mountains that surround the area. I had a raspberry dacquari. It was very nice.
Back to town via boat a few hours later and we continued up the road, passing views of volcano Lanin in the distance. The big mountains slowly turned into foothills, and ranch land. We spent the night in a beautiful campground in Junin de los Andes. Fabulous little place on an island between 2 rivers, just in the middle of town. There Marc spotted a campervan with BC plates. We chatted with the occupants, a Swiss couple who had purchased the van in Canada, drove it down to Panama, shipped it over the Darien gap to Columbia, and made their way down to Argentina where we ran into them. So far they have been on the road for 2 years and 7 months. Eviable!

Day 4 of the Car rental
Up and off early as we wanted to cover over 300k today. Roads here are in good condition, but very windy and mountainous. To top that off, there are some drivers who fluctuate between 40 km per hour and 85 km per hour, making passing or keeping a constant speed difficult. It´s not a race though. Once again we passed through ranch land that looked like arizona, then the hills got greener, then steeper, back into foothills, then again into huge mountain ranges. Past Bariloche where we had origionally started and on to El Bolson, a small town 100k or so south of Bariloche. We found our campsite, visited the local fair that was going on. Bought raspberries, blackberries and blueberries before setting up camp. We desided to have a real argentinian grill, so we heated up some charcoal and set some lamb to grill. We had just finished our nice relaxing meal when some very loud music started. Our campground was right across the road from a huge temporary stadium. Unbeknownst to us, it was the annual hops festival. Clearly Marc had to try some of the local beers so over we headed to savour the local delicasies and watch traditional dance. All very fun.

This morning we headed out for a short hike into the surrounding mountains to the bosque tallado. (the carved forest). After a small forest fire, local artists carved the fallen trees, so now tourists can hike on up to check it out. All very cool.

so today we head back to Bariloche, where we once again have lots of sorting out of stuff to do. Tomorrow morning we fly out to el Calafate in the south. Once there, we´ll be taking a bus to El Chalten and hiking for 3 days in the Fitz Roy range. This time if we feel the ground shake, we´ll be sure to head to an email cafe as soon as we can.

Big hugs to all

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