The trek

Trip Start Jun 09, 2010
Trip End Jul 25, 2010

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Where I stayed
San Antonio Lodge

Flag of Argentina  ,
Saturday, July 3, 2010

We woke up on Thursday morning at 7am to the sounds of slamming doors and barking dogs. Not ready to leave our shared twin sized bed, we reluctantly got up and began packing for our night in the mountains. The morning was by no means flawless - the line to the atm took 45 minutes (which made us 35 minutes late for the pickup), Samantha's bag wasn't working so she had to use Mer's body bag to carry her stuff, and we were unsure of whether there would be meals available so we ran around trying to find emergency food. We finally made our way back to hostel and boarded the 4x4 that would take us to the lodge. It was at this point that we met Edwardo (our plump and cheerful driver) and Juan (our slightly awkward, but good intentioned guide). Our friend Ben, this guy from England who is staying at our hostel, decided to come for the overnight stay as well.

2 hours later, the three of us arrived at our lodge (San Antonio). The lodge was a quintessential wood cabin in the middle of the mountains - there was no heat and no hot water, but there was a beautiful fire place that had our names written all over it. We got ourselves situated in the cabin, waited for Juan to prepare lunch, and before long, we were on our way to the summit of Areneles. The trek was in and out of valleys on a snow covered path, and the final ascent was on a winding, rocky path to the top. The day was a lot of fun (mainly because we set our own pace and were able to take as many aqua breaks as we needed), and it was well worth the extra bit of traveling. Afterall, standing on top of a snow covered peak in the middle of the Andes ... with no other people in sight ... with condors flying over our heads ... is really not something that one gets to experience everyday. We also found the trek to be especially difficult - this may have been due to the fact that we were trekking through about a foot of snow at a higher altitude than we were used to, but it also may be a reflection of the lack of intense physical activity that we have done within the last few weeks. Either way - we made it to the top and have great pictures to prove it!

When we got back to the lodge after our 6 hour hike, we all sat in front of the fire to soak up the heat and we each took a much needed nap. We then sat down to dinner around 7 (chicken and vegetables) and spent the rest of the night relaxing around the fire. It was a bit of a struggle to keep the fire from going out, but our constant attempts at keeping the fire going did keep us mildly entertained.  Overall though, the night was oneof the more enjoyable evenings we have had thusfar.  Ben turned out to be great company (despite his heavy British accent), and it was nice to be huddled around a fire with some good friends and chocolate.

The next morning we woke up to another nearly perfect day in the mountains. Although we were scheduled to do another hike, we both agreed that we'd rather have a cozy day at the lodge. As old lady - ish as this may sound (yes, the lodge felt a bit like our retirement home), we spent the morning playing cards with Ben and Juan, we prepared our own lunch (melted cheese on bread with some spices, topped with chicken and veggies...), went for an hour walk, did some yoga and stretching outside, and really just spent some time taking in the scenery and crisp mountain air. It was both eery and exciting to be practically the only people in the mountains - when else will we be dropped in the middle of a valley surrounded by cows and snow covered mountains, given a key to a gorgeous lodge, and be told by our guide... "See you girls later!" Wow.

Anyway, we came back to the hostel last night and took an easy night in. We spent the day today watching the Argentina vs. Germany soccer game (the streets were deserted!), doing laundry, and searching for an American bookstore which unfortunately was closed by the time we found it. We should have known that the bookstore would be closed... Afterall, it was 115 by the time we got there! (Mendoza pretty much closes down everyday between 1 and 430...even grocery stores close down!)

It definitely is good to be back (this hostel is so great...good people, good energy, good tortas (these delicious bread like patties that they have all over the place), good free wine every night!, good vibes...) but we are really excited to make our way to Salta. We leave tomorrow night at 8:30pm and we arrive there at 1:45pm the next day. Will update the blog as our adventure continues!

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