Saturday, April 3, 2010
The large size in Argentina, together with our small budgets, makes bus travel a necessity. We’re not talking 4 hours to NYC on the Chinatown express, but 20, 30, even 40 hours straight on the same bus. We have spent 2 and a half months in Argentina and Chile so far, and by our calculations, have spent about 160 hours total over 7 major trips, for an average of 23 hours a trip. That being said, the following is a collection of thoughts and stories from buses in Argentina.
-The biggest factor on a bus trip is not comfort, nor whether it smells, and not even who ends up taking the seat next to you. It comes down to movie selection. Will the bus driver chose a poorly dubbed Nic Cage or Steven Segal movie? (This will make the bus ride very long). Or, something good, like Dark Knight in English. One time Morgan revealed that she had to watch “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” twice in a row.
-Buses can break, a 20 hours ride can quickly become a 30 hour ride, with 10 hours spent at a bus company warehouse. Also, on one ride from Rio Gallegos to Bariloche, the AC broke at around 1 in the morning. For whatever reason, the bus driver decided to jack up the heat. By around 4 in the morning, everyone in the bus was sweating, and the bus had a locker room scent. Good times.
-The seats recline almost all the way, they occasionally play bingo games with the passengers, and you get meals….sometimes. The best part of bus rides is the view. The buses will take you along some of the most desolate stretches of highway in Argentina, moreover, the world. Patagonia is one of the most uninhabited places on earth, nowhere is that more evident than a 35 hour ride across the Patagonian steppe.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
First ascent out of our Lago Frey campsite, note the lack of trail. This was an I-pod on, no talking, everyone focused on their own route kind of hike. I may or may not have wrapped a bandana around my head at some point, early 80’s bad action movie style. I hope that photo never hits the internet.
Midway through this climb we hit another small lake, that was perched right above our route in a small glacial crater. We couldn’t really make out our next route, until another trekker pointed out some tracks in the snow, and we realized that we had to snow climb out of the crater.
After the snow climb we emerged in a barren rocky canyon, and finally the summit, and a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside.
After lunch, and a brief nap, we descended from the pass, which consisted mostly of sand sliding and avoiding large shin crushing boulders. This was exhausting, and time consuming. We rushed through the next valley, there was another pass between us and our destination and we were running out of daylight. Therefore, no photos were taken. This is after the valley quickstep, to give an idea of scale, the previous photo of the countryside was taken from the ridge in the background.
These next two photos are of our final climb, a 400-500m ascent through snow, attempting to use hand and foot holds made by previous trekkers, or making our own.
Our final destination, the final lake, and the surrounding mountains.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
-We didn’t have much time in BA, but the Recoleta cemetery isn’t a bad way to spend a few hours. Imagine a labyrinth or garden maze over several city blocks, but instead of hedges or hybrid bull monsters, think large above ground mausoleums. Sariemento is buried there, as is one María Eva Duarte de Perón, aka Evita.
This is Patas Blancas, or white paws. We were camping in Puerto Madryn, which is about a 25 hour bus ride down the coast, and this semi-feral wild dog just wandered up to our campsite. We gave him some food and played with him a little, figuring he would wander off in search of more food. He didn’t, but instead decided to domesticate himself and appointed himself our dog. This was great for a night, as he slept outside our tent door and barked at anyone who came close. In the morning, we packed up our stuff, and walked about a mile to the bus stop. Poor Patas followed us the whole way. We tried to tell him to leave, he wouldn’t. We got on the bus, and listened to him cry outside the bus door until we left. Hopefully his one night of domestication didn’t kill his street dog survival skills.
-Beach at Puerto Piramides, a small town in a peninsula off the coast. The peninsula is also famous for marine wildlife; penguins, seals, and the occasional orca, although we missed the season.
Currently we are in Bariloche and tomorrow we leave for a trek in the backcountry, I will be back sometime this weekend, expect more photos then.