Week 11: El Chaiten, Esquel, Argentina

So week 11 wasn’t the most exciting of weeks. Mainly because I got progressively sicker. I won’t elaborate on the details but things got so bad I couldn’t move from the tent, couldn’t drink much and eating extended to dry crackers and the occasional bite of chicken. Myself Lorenso and Tatoo moved from the homeless shelter into a proper campsite with bathrooms so that was amazing. Toilet paper has become a thing of luxury in these neck of the woods so I have been forced to use leaves on more occasions that I would like to mention (if you will pardon the pun). It’s been rough but despite being violently sick I tried to make the most of being in amazing El Chaiten.

The view of El Chaiten from the mountains

One of the worst things about being sick was not feeling hungry this is the worst as in Argentina the day evolves around the BBQ and they are such generous people that refusing food/wine kills me. I had a lovely group of Bolivians/Argentinians buying me 7-up and making me hot lemons. They even got delivered to the tent. Spoilt rotten!

The new stomping ground with bathrooms!!!

We went to visit one of the nearby waterfalls Chorillo de Salta. I was exempt from hitchhiking and got to ride on Tatoo’s motor bike absolutely delira! We made the gorgeous drive (35km) to Lago Del Desierto  which was stunning. Tatoo had to rush back for work so myself and Lorenso hitch hiked home  and made dinner (which I ended up pucking up later that night). Amazingly Lorenso had singstreet on his laptop so we had movie night in the tent. One of my fav films! God only knows how he understood the accent!

Stunning ride to Lago Del Desierto (photo Lorenso)
El Chaiten (photo Lorenso)
Chorillo de Salta  (photo Lorenso)
Drinking the infamous mate (photo Lorenso)
Lorenso, Me, Eileen and Tatoo at Lago Del Desierto
Getting sleep wherever possible, Lago Del Desierto (photo Lorenso)
The hat getting some serious airtime!(photo Lorenso)

It was Lorenso’s last day in El Chaiten, himself  and Tatoo have been travelling for 1 month on motorbikes.  Saying goodbye is always the hardest about travelling. I am hoping to meet Lorenso in Bariloche in 4 days (if I make it).  The following morning Lorenso said his goodbyes to go get his motorbike in Chile. Obviously he got a hitchhike after 5 minutes (I’m usually waiting 5 hours! jammy bastard)

Lorenso and Tatoo pushing the battered bike for the last time!

The next 2 days I could barely move and even struggled to buy food. The Bolivian’s had me convinced I had a parasite so decided a trip to the ‘hospital’ was compulsory. Anyway the Doc said I had managed to get a 2 week virus and that all I could do was wait it out he said I was severely dehydrated and to avoid needing IV fluids I’d need to drink 6 litres of water! The hospital didn’t accept card and all of the banks in El Chaiten had run out of money so embarrassed I couldn’t pay.  I offered him my coat as a form of compensation (becuase I literally had nothing else ). He looked at me in disgust afraid of catching my horrific virus. Straight to the bus station to try to get out of El Chaiten the bus man told me the 20 hour bus to Bariloche was booked out for the next 3 days (It’s high season at the moment). I had vowed I wasn’t hitch hiking in my state and just couldn’t face it but with no other choice I decided to give it another go.

El Chaiten was beautiful. It’s definitely a place that’s going to change in the next few years. At the moment camping and park entrance is free but I can see this changing and it becoming similar to Torres Del Paine in Chile so go now! I wish I hadn’t been so sick there as there were lots more treks I wanted to do but I was lucky enough to have gotten there so no complaints!

Leaving El Chaiten (photo Lorenso)

Hitchhiking is an interesting one and I think I have a love hate relationship with it. To date I’ve hitch hiked with 14 different  people between Chile and Argentina. It has been an amazing way to learn about the country, speak spanish and of course save some money (the buses here are almost as expensive as flights). That being said it is very testing and does take a certain person to do it. It can be really difficult waiting for hours on end. Getting rejected constantly isn’t amazing for morlae but getting a lift makes it all so worthwhile. It can be difficult when it’s getting late and dark and your afraid you won’t get to where you need to be but luckily this hasn’t happened. The quickest ride was after 1 minute and my longest wait was 5 hours.

Not the worst hitch hiking view (photo Lorenso)

Luckily Tatoo dropped me outside the town and  I waited an hour when a lovely couple from Spain picked me up. They are travelling the world for 2 years in this van. At this stage I was extremely sick and had to concentrate so hard not to get sick. As most of you know I get car sick on the best of days. I felt so rude because I could barely speak I attempted to eat  a cracker worried I hadn’t eaten anything In 2 days. Luckily they picked up a Brazilian lad and Israeli girl which took the focus off me and I just lay there for the horrible 10 hours. We were blessed the couple brought us as far as Perito Moreno. The three of us checked into a nearby camping site. Pitching the tent in the blackness of the night with the constant urge to puck was awful. The other couple went to cook dinner and I just attempted to sleep. It was definitely the worst day of the sickness all I could manage to eat were a few starbusts!

The next morning I got up early to try and have a better chance at hitch hiking the additional 800km to Bariloche. I walked for a while and once again was standing on the wrong road for an 1 hour when a man told me there was no hope of getting a life here and I would be better off going back to get a bus. I went to a garage trying to find out where the route 40 was (Argentina’s famous motor way, most people can’t miss it but i’m not most people). I couldn’t have been luckier a driver recognised me from El Chaiten as the girl in the big coat drinking lemons. He told me he was going to Esquel 600km away which was en route. They were 4 lads travelling for the holidays and couldn’t have been sounder. They gave me some bread and I started to feel a little human again and the journey actually went fast. I was so grateful to them.

Myself and the legend Daria in Esquel

We arrived in Daria’s hometown Esquel at 4pm. I was so destroyed from all the driving so coudn’t face any more cars. Daria offered me accomodation for the night and promised to drive me half the way to Bariloche the following morning an offer I couldn’t refuse.  I actually felt hunger for the first time since getting sick so he brought me shopping and I played it safe with bread and eggs terrified of pucking in the kind strangers house. I was mid way through my meal and actually enjoying it when Manila the cute dog robbed the rest and ate it! (probably a blessing in disguise). The next morning I had a fab shower and even got to use conditioner ( another thing of the past) and felt like a new person. Daria even washed all my clothes luxury doesn’t even come close.

Myself, Flor (Daria’s friend) and Daria set off towards El Borson. It was a stunning drive we stopped en route to do some walks around the lakes. It was glorious! The initial plan was to drop me to El Borson  and I would hitch hike the rest but Daria felt so sorry for me he  drove an additional 150km and dropped me the full way. I’m blown away by how much the people have done for me. They expect absolutely nothing in return. All he would let me pay for was him ham and cheese sambo!


Beautiful tour of Esquel’s lakes (colour of the water is amazing)
A view of a glacier en route to Bariloche
Beutiful Esquel

It was about 11pm  by the time we reached Bariloche.  I managed to track down Lorenso. We caught up in Mac Donalds (I went wild and ate my crackers).  As predicted I knew we wouldn’t be forking out the 22 dollars for a hostel so Lorenso was on the case to find somewhere to camp….

Fingers crossed next week is better!!!





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