Tranquility with 240 Argentine school chidren

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mountain Climbing with 240 Argentinian School Children and other amazing feats
10 out of 10 to the 15 teachers who chaperoned 240 Argentinian pubescent school children on the 2 hour climb up to the natural window in Provincial Park Sierra de la Ventana!
How did we arrive here at this B-list Argentinian natural wonder? Many Argentinian school teachers also wondered the same as we weaved our way through lines of shouting kids, gaining 600 metres over the space of 2 hours. Where are you from? How did you find out about this place? etc. Of course, it was the healthy looking phys-ed teacher who reached the top of the mountain first (leaving the chubby, pale physics teacher drinking mate half-way up), and as I explained to her, it was thanks to an inspiring, but unhelpful entry in Footprint that we found ourselves peering through a natural rock window at the glorious Argentinian pampas stretching to the horizon. Only negative was the gale-force winds blowing your feet from under you, almost rivalling those in the Larig Ghru (Cairngorms, Scotland) on a bad day.
Another event of note included the discovery of a rare type of fungus (mostly red with white spots - photo enclosed).
When quizzed as to the scientific name of this plant, the park guardīs urgent response was "You didnīt touch it did you?"
Me, a little worried now because I had moved some leaf litter to get the perfect photo. He finished, "Because 2 people died from eating it last month.", he finished.
My response: " I donīt make a habit of ingesting red things that I donīt know the name of."
However, I did spare a thought for the couple (of hippies?) that died in pursuit of the ultimate high.
The hike must have been tough, because one of my trusty leather boots, veterans of Australia, Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, France, Slovakia, Morocco, the US and many other hikes, blew out at the side (see photo!).
One night we camped beneath gum trees, with the site all to ourselves assured the owner. I almost felt as if I was back in Australia, except for the 3 blood-thirsty foxes that circled our tent, eyes shining in the dark, hoping to taste a piece of Annaīs leg, or some left-over tuna-pasta from our dinner.
Back in town the next night Annaīs bad luck continued when she found a dead cucuracha (cockroach) in the bottom of her wine glass. The owners were very apologetic, but insisted it could not have been in the glass, but must have come out of the bottle.

In summary, Parque Provincial Sierra Ventana was worth a visit if you have extra time. Not only are the views spectacular from the window, but you also get to see a place where locals go on holiday. Itīs difficult to find deailed information on this area outside the park and is definitely set up for inexperienced hikers and not for "off-piste" campers!
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