After Pucón I stayed 4 more nights in the lake district. Two of them in Puerto Varas, a 5 hour bus ride southbound. The weather turned bad and it rained a lot – time for me to relax, hang out in the hostels and cafés and book some more flights.
I also checked out the town’s German heritage. The region has a bit German community based on settlers that came down ages ago (I think lots of them after WWII). So you can find German looking houses, German music and food, especially “Kuchen” (yes, they adapted the German word for cake). I basically spent a day walking around in the drizzle, looking at historical buildings, went to the “Club Aleman” to get some food and stuffed myself with cake.
The day after I took a bus into Argentina. We crossed the Andes, got some nice views. The bus stopped at the Chilean border, everyone got out to receive the leaving stamp. Then we drove another 30 minutes, officially not being in any country until we reached the Argentinean border. All in all a quite annoying process. After 7 hours I made it to Bariloche and it was super windy. I immediately booked my bus further south (you can only do that at the terminal which is out of town), took a taxi to my place and went downtown to get cash and a phone card. That took me like 2 hours to sort out in Spanish since it’s more complicated that in other countries. Pretty stressful first day in Argentina so I got myself some Pizza, went to my place and watched movies.
The next day it rained again all day long. Really fine drizzle and the sky was divided. One side was blue and sunny, the other side grey and rainy and I was in the middle and got it all. Never seen so many rainbows before. I booked a small trip to do the circuito chico, that takes you around some lakes and stops and picturesque sites so you can take “fotitas” (pictures). We also got to take the cable chair up a hill to get some nice views. Unfortunately all that was located at the side where the skies were grey so it rained a lot. Imagine myself with a big yellow raincoat riding up a hill in an open chair lift in the pouring down rain – you got to do what you got to do I guess and it can’t always be nice.
If you are wondering how I get along with my Spanish… It’s not always easy but I can always express myself so people know what I want and I do understand what they say to an extend, however I am always unsure if I understand them right. People here tend to involve my into conversations and I HAVE to speak. For example I had a 10 minute talk with an elderly taxi driver about how awesome German meat is. I have no idea how I managed to get what he said (at least like 40 or 50 percent) and you can always guess. But he seemed pleased enough with what I said back (I didn’t tell him I’m a vegetarian and just pretended to love meat a lot).
Another funny situation was when I went from shop to shop (you can buy phone credit in kiosks here) to ask how I know how much megabytes I actually have left on my phone (apparently that’s a hard one). Some random elderly man saw my Tom Tom watch and started to ask me questions about it and also talked about hiking and mountains. The conversation went like this:
HOMBRE: “Cool, a TOM TOM.” – Plus something about hiking, hills, running around, sounding like a question
ME: “Oh, I am leaving for El Chaltén today”
HOMBRE: looking confused. “Oh I mean how does it connect to your phone and does it get the signals through satellites?” (and maybe more stuff I didn’t get)
ME: realizing he didn’t want to sell me a hike.. Telling him it connects with Bluetooth..
Sometimes I do understand a lot, like whole sentences, other times not so much. Also Argentinians are harder to understand then Chileans I think.. Anyways, Spanish skills are a good thing to have in South America.
Right now I am on a 24 hour bus ride really far down south (I know, lots of bus rides so far). We’re driving down the RUTA 40, which is pretty scenic so I just sit on my seat, that is more comfy then any bus seat in Europe, Australia, New Zealand or the US, looking out of the window and just enjoy the views. Stunning grassland with mountains in the horizon, really cool clouds and the occasional cow. The Argentinean pampa…… The whole trip ended up taking 26 hours. Sounds worse than it was, plus the views never got boring.