Week 12; Bariloche, Villa La Angostura & San Martin De Los Andes, Argentina

Bariloche is a beautiful town surrounded by lakes that has skiiing in the winter and lots of water sports/trekking in the summer. It’s famous for its local chocolate shops and abundance of breweries. It’s like most of the tourist destinations in Argentina pricey. Camping is great but mostly camping sites are a couple of km out-of-town which is a pain with the backpack, fine if you have a motor bike…Anyway Lourenso hit the jackpot when he found our sleeping station for the night. An abandoned building! It looked as dodgy as they come. During the night we heard voices and people running around our tents but didn’t think much of it. After a while a squad car rocks up at our door step with flash lights ordering us out of the tent. It soon transpired they thought we were 2 criminals who were on the run. They were looking for 2 guys who just robbed a shop. Anyway they said we’d be safe for the night because they would be patrolling the area. A fab introduction to Bariloche!

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Our stunning location for our first night in Bariloche

As much as we liked our new home we wanted to find somewhere a little nicer with no graffiti , broken glass and or criminals. Our plan for the day was to take it handy and go explore Bariloche on motor bike (perfect for my fairly shit energy levels). I went off to try to find a cycling helmet to rent and Lourenso went off to find a new home.So we ended up finding on an old man who said we could camp on his front lawn. Perfect! He was an absolute gent called Amilka (like the choccie). The neighbors thought we were a bit weird and that would be a fair assumption. Our backpacks were safe in his garage so all was good. We spent the afternoon getting to know Amilka which essentially was us all screaming at each other in terrible Spanish/English.

Bariloche is beautiful but it’s a bit too touristy for my liking some of the lakes were crowded with people we still managed to go for a lovely dip in the fresh lake. We ended up going up to one of the view points to watch the sunset this was really impressive with the whole sky turning red. And a bonus there was no one else there. The day concluded with me getting a motor bike lesson on top of a mountain. The lesson was cut short as I needed no more instruction I was pro you could even say rothemotorbikepro!

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Bariloche evening sky
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Lorenso trying to take a photo
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Seriously impressive skys in Bariloche
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Bariloche

The next day we decided to do the Circuit De Chico a famous 60km route around Bariloche with stunning views of the surrounding lakes. Lots of people do it on bicycle but I was still feeling ropey so the motorbike was perfect. En route we ended up stopping by one of Argentina’s most famous hotels. We both looked extremely rough to put it mildly and not exactly the hotel’s typical clientele. They tried to refuse us entry when I said we would like to buy a drink they let us pass. They then tried to charge for visiting the hotel. We pretended to be considering our drink options in the many cafebars the hotel had. I made a dash for the toilets to stock up on some quality toilet roll and we had a mooch around the luxury hotel. I can confirm the toilet paper was like silk and even smelt like roses! My bum didn’t know what hit it. Cheapest room is €500 a night. I got chatting to a gal who worked in the chocolate shop in the hotel and wiped the choccie samples clean. I eventually found Lourenso lurking around and we made a quick exit and continued on our way to one of the stunning nearby lakes.

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View of Argentina’s  luxury Llao Llao Hotel, Bariloche

We found a really quiet area where we went swimming and had a siesta. We even managed to shower in the lakes and clean are overdue dirty hair. Perfect!

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Views en route the Circuit De Chico
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Me on top of hill ( I can’t remember the name) Bariloche

En route home we got pulled over my the police mainly because Lorenso’s bad driving skills and secondly because of my  cycling helmet. Blessed we didn’t get a fine I ended up hitch hiking ‘home’ and Lorenso followed me as I obviously had no idea where ‘home’ was. The new home is really growing on me one of the neighbors even delivered hot coffees to our tent!

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Kitchen for the past 3 days!

I decided to stay one more night in Bariloche to try to sort myself out and get fully better. So Lourenso is headed off to Buenos Aires, Brazil and then Panama where he sets of on a 9 month trip on yacht to Australia lucky duck.

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Good luck to this messer on his travels!

I  picked up a new mattress in Bariloche now it’s not inflatable but it’s a tinfoil thing that’ll do the job nicely. Goofy a random dog I adopted was all over my tent the following morning trying to eat everything in sight. I was shouting at goofy to go away  trying to get a bit more shut-eye. It transpired it was actually the police and not goofy. I was still half asleep  when the police man was talking to me he was basically saying I needed to leave asap. 10 minutes later a different police man arrived with an angry woman saying I had to leave. I subsequently found a note attached to my tent from the previous day telling me to leave the private property. For once it was actually handy not speaking any Spanish and I  played v dumb. Myself and poor aul Goofy hadn’t a breeze what was going on. Once the 2 policemen and grumpy old woman left I started packing up. Goofy made this an almost impossible task. He took a shining to my new mattress and took a few chunks out of it.  Myself and goofy departed on bad terms as a result.

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Leaving Bariloche

I hitchhiked to the nearest town Villa La Angostura which is a base to go explore the famous 7 lakes road. This was a really nice town and a lot more chilled out than Bariloche. I found  a really cool campsite in the woods and planned on renting a bike the following day to go explore.

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I amazingly managed to sleep in this! Tent is officially fecked….

Obviously the cheapest bike was the cheapest for a reason it was shit. This famous route is notoriously hilly. The lakes were absolutely spectacular but the steep uphills were complete torture especially considering how unfit I am at the moment. I ended up getting really sick on the cycle (again) and barely made it home. At this stage I’m fairly sick of not being able to eat and getting sick all of the time. After a sleepless night of getting sick I decided to go straight to a hospital in the nearest town in San Martin De Los Andes 90km north. I am now an expert of the hospitals in the lake district! The Doc this time took me seriously and started me on antibiotics so fingers crossed it works!

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I ended up stumbling across this private property at the start of cycling the 7 Lakes Road
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One of the many stunning Lakes, 7 Lakes Road
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Taking a dip in the middle of the cycle!

I’ve decided to stay put in San Martin De Los Andes to try to properly get better and work for a few weeks. As amazing as it is seeing so many things it can be exhausting particularly in a country this big. I’ve just expected now that everywhere I want to go is a about 2000km away. I think one of the reason’s I’ve been sick for almost a month now is because I haven’t stopped…

So the job hunting commenced I tried to write a CV in Spanish but abandoned ship early on and decided I would have to rely on my personality to do all the work. I started with all the hostels as I desperately needed somewhere to sleep and wanted to meet young people.  I went to 5 different hostels and they all said no!  The second plan was to volunteer in a restaurant in exchange for somewhere to pitch my tent. Again it was a no because they all said my Spanish wasn’t good enough. What a surprise!

The third option was to give coach surfing a go until I figured out a plan. I’ve met lots of people who really recommend this but it’s something I’d never tried. It’s basically a site where people let you stay in their house for free. Generally it’s people who love to travel and meet new people. It’s a bit like air b and b where the hosts have profiles and reviews so it’s quite safe. I was v lucky when Ali replied instantly to my request saying I could stay the night in his place and we would meet me at 11pm after work.

Ali turned out to be lovely. We arrived at his place and it turned out he only had one leg. This obviously wasn’t a problem but I was caught off guard as I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t know whether to mention the leg situation.  He had a prosthetic leg with a sandal on it so in the dark it looked like he had two legs until he just removed it. Ali’s house wasn’t really a house but just one room. I initially thought we would have to share his bed  which I was a little freaked about. But thankfully he had a spare mattress. As I was trying to sort out the mattress I ended up knocking over his prosthetic leg . Feeling absolutely horrific he then started to explain he brother only had one leg too. I wasn’t sure was he joking or not. Then I presumed they were twins and asked at birth did they loose their legs. Then he told me that he sleep walks all the time in case I got a fright. Not exactly au fay with Spanish sarcasm I tried to change the subject….

To add to the bizarre situation he ended bringing home this cardboard box from work which I just presumed was leftover food. Turns out it was a bird who was being attacked by a cat and Ali wanted to save it. Again caught off guard by this one. In the middle of the night the bird escaped from the box and was flying all over the room. Freaked out doesn’t even cover this one. Overall my first coach surfing experience was a bit unusual but great at the same time. People are great the way they just welcome you into their homes and expect nothing in return. All I brought to the table was a slab of melted chocolate which I ended up eating as Ali doesn’t like dark chocolate.

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San Martin De Los Andes

So between all of this I managed to kind of find a job. Workaway.info is a sight where you can basically volunteer in exchange for somewhere to stay. It covers the most random of jobs. It’s a great way of saving some money, meeting people and getting to know an area. Some of the jobs sound really cool and vary from working in hostels, cafes, on the beech, vegetable gardens, child minding, painting, gardening etc etc. I managed to secure a job with a chap called Yuan in some nearby mountains. I didn’t really read the job description ( as in I didn’t read it at all) but I was desperate so accepted the job straight away. I then read about the set up you would be expected to work for 5 hours a day and some of the jobs included help with the tourists, cooking , cleaning and some outdoor work.  It was a refugio for tourists. It actually sounded kind of cool. I couldn’t of been more wrong…..

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