Picnics, Waterfalls and Viewpoints

Trip Start May 20, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2011

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Where I stayed
Lago Gutierrez Lodge

Flag of Argentina  , Río Negro,
Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Day: 243
Temperature: 26 degrees
Weather : Sunny and windy

Yesterday we were on a mission to do the following jobs.
1.       Successfully locate the nearest bus stop and take the bus into Bariloche
2.       Buy a local SIM card so that we can phone various hostels to enquire about availability
3.       Go to the bus station and buy some bus tickets for Friday to somewhere in the south
4.       Find some ATMs, hope that they actually contain money and withdraw enough so that we can pay our hostel
5.       Find a supermarket and stock up on fruit and vegetables.

Catching the bus was easy enough. When we saw a queue of people standing on the road we figured that this was where the bus stop was. Getting off at the appropriate place in Bariloche however, was a different matter. We missed our stop and then got lost. No surprise there then. Fortunately there happened to be a mobile phone shop on the corner from where we left the bus so at least that saved us from having to find one. In my best Spanglish I managed to communicate what we were looking for (don't be so impressed….SIM is the same in Spanish as it is in English!) and 20 minutes later we had successfully bought 2 SIM cards! Apparently we need two different networks because the reception is so iffy. At least, I think that’s what he said………..

We then walked half an hour to the bus stop and queued at the Andesmar desk. I asked for some tickets to Esquel on Friday. On the monitor behind the desk I could see that there were two buses leaving for Esquel that day, but the Andesmar man started talking so quickly that I had absolutely no idea what he was saying. I asked him to speak a little slower but he obviously couldn’t be bothered and in a bored tone of voice repeated what he had said, just as fast. I said I didn’t understand, and pointed to one of the bus times on the computer monitor, at which point he then told me abruptly to please not touch the screen. More rapid Spanish was thrown at me, but luckily I managed to catch just one or two words and suddenly understood that for some bizarre reason we could not book these tickets today, but we had to return on Friday. I think not! We left the Andesmar desk and went to the Via Barriloche desk and I once again asked for tickets on Friday to Esquel. Fortunately the man behind this desk was far more pleasant and spoke in a manner in which I could understand. Five minutes later we had successfully purchased two tickets. Job done.

We walked back into town and found a Carrefour Supermarket and after buying our groceries I asked where the nearest ATM was. From what I could gather there was one on the corner of the street, although I couldn’t quite understand what street the security man was referring to. We left the supermarket and walked a couple of blocks roughly in the direction that we were pointed, but there was no sign of an ATM.  I asked a shop attendant in some random shop. She pointed us back in the direction that we’d come from which was odd…until we arrived back at Carrefour and realised that the ATM was actually in the wall of the Carrefour shop, in the corner! Flip! I really need to improve my Spanish. We got in the queue and then when we reached the front, the man who was using the ATM came out and declared that it had ran out of money! Now this ATM thing is getting a little bit annoying. The thing is, you don’t want to carry great wads of cash around with you, especially when travelling on buses. But it seems that you almost need to carry loads of spare cash because you never really know when you are going to be able to get more. Just because a city has ATMs doesn’t actually mean that they will have money!

We eventually found another ATM but it only let you withdraw AR $300 in any one transaction….that’s 50 UK. Not a lot. So, you find yourself having to make several transactions to withdraw the amount that you need, which is infuriating when you consider the charges to withdraw money overseas. But what are the options?!

Anyway, having completed all our jobs, we were ready to get the bus back to our hostel. We’d been told to catch either the number 40 or 50 bus. We found the correct stop and waited.  I asked a woman who was also waiting what time the number 40 came. She said in about 20 minutes. The number 40 eventually came but when I stepped on the bus and asked for Arelauquen I was told that this bus didn’t go there. We had to take the number 41. I asked what time the number 41 came and was told that it would be another hour! We’d already stood there for 45 minutes. Not wanting to stand there another hour we wandered off to find the stop for the number 50. Amazingly a number 50 was just arriving as we approached, but once again, when I asked for Arelauquen I was told that this bus didn’t go there! Completely confused we got off the bus again, and with no other option we headed back to the bus stop for the number 41. Eventually after another hour and 10 minutes a number 41 arrived, and thankfully when I asked for Arelauquen I was told that this was the correct bus. I still have absolutely no idea why we were told that the number 50 and 40 don’t go to Arelauquen as we have seen dozens of them trundling past when we go for walks around the village. This is another example of why the Spanish needs to improve…fast!  Anyway, what should have taken us a few hours turned out to be a whole day, but at least we had done everything we needed to do.

Today, the sun was shining once again, although it has been much windier and the lake looked like the sea with loads of white horses in the middle and waves hitting the beaches. We went for a hike around the lake for about 12 km or so. We had a picnic in the forest before visiting a small waterfall  (La Cascada) and from there we walked up to a viewpoint (El Mirador….see! my Spanish vocabulary is improving every day!!) which gave us views over the lake. The climb up to the top took about half an hour, and as we reached the top the trees gave way and the sky looked the most incredible deep blue colour. I don't think I've ever seen the sky so blue. It was beautiful. Interestingly, the forest here is covered in bamboo, which is weird because I always associated bamboo with Asian countries, tropical countries even, not South America. But here everything is so dry. In fact the soil is so dusty here that walking uphill and downhill is pretty treacherous because it’s so slippy.  Moreover, when the wind gets up it whips up the dust which makes it difficult to breath and impossible to see, making manoeuvring downhill even more tricky. What it did make us realise however, is that we really need to get some more walking under our belts as we are hoping to do the W trek in Torres del Paine in a couple of weeks time…and I’m sure that will be no walk in the park!

Tomorrow we are planning on visiting the Cerro Cathedral which stands at over 2,000m altitude. I had better admit at this point that we are not actually planning on ascending the Cerro Cathedral by means of our own particularly impressive mountaineering skills (not!)..... there is in fact a cable car to the top! Sorry!
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Holly on

Hello, greetings from rainy Eastcourt. Scenery looks amazing and sounds like you're doing brilliantly with the Spanish, good work.
Tony & I are off to the school now, doing some work on cooking, health and hygiene with ages 5-8 ........... phone soon. Holx

Eileen on

ok you need to think out of the box with your spanish .....

like when I was trying my best portuguese in a small village where no one spoke English ,to order a Cheese and Tomato pizza .. no one understood me ...until Ben piped up "margarita" beside me and everyone smiled and whooped at the lovely intelligent little boy with his incredibally stupid mother !

LOL speak soon xxxxxxx

Fi mc on

I hate to say this but perhaps the people telling u the busesdidnt go where u wanted was a result of a slight mispronunciation?!!!! hehehe....hmmmm.
nevertheless I love hearing about my beloved Argentina! all the well known bus companies, shops, rushed, incomprehensible speech of the locals.....
I hope ur loving it now!
if it's that dusty it's because all the rain has fallen over here in Australia! la Nina will do that....
and I'm off into the middle of it tomorrow.

nomadic-brands on

Sis - yeah, maybe I should just try in english, or even better, get yourself out here and give us a hand!! lol :-)
Fi - I don't doubt that it was my mispronounciation....I can't slur my speech enough to make myself understood....maybe a bottle of wine would help?!!

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