Bariloche (Argentina) by Baz
We hope the bus to Bariloche has been the final overnight bus of our travels. There is nothing more uncomfortable than trying to sleep on a bus. The air conditioning drys out your skin, eyes and mouth, you wake up sweaty in your clothes, stumble to a toilet which is covered in urine and try not to soak yourself peeing in the dark as the bus bumps around the place.There is a constant smell of fart in the air, not a strong smell, as the fart absorbant seats seem to soak up the smell straight from its source and release it at a constant rate. The overnight bus in South America is not a pleasnt experience.
After our final overnighter we were delighted to arrive in the paradise called Bariloche - surely one of the most beautiful and tranquil places on the planet. The area is sorrounded by crystal clear glacier water lakes, crowned by lush green mountains, topped with snow which facilitates great skiing in the winter months. The climate is warm and, for the duration we were there, dry. Our hostel was up on a hill overlooking the main lake from the large living room window.
When we had recovered from our overnighter Seonaid and I took the bus to the national park and walked the 15 km trail. It was a beautiful day and we set off along a dusty path surrounded by green fields and mountains, singing Patsy Cline songs at the top or our voices..."I go out walkin, after midnight...". Having exhausted our knowledge of Patsys beautiful lyrics, and killed quite a few of her best known classics I noticed a sign that said Cemetra de Mountanias. We walked up a steep path about 10 minutes when we arrived at a secluded cemetary at the very foot of the mountain. It was a very tranquil place with the only sound coming from a waterfall in the distance. All the graves seemed to be quite recent.After a look round I was drawn to one grave in particular which had the 5 olympic rings above the name Otto Juung. Otto had died in the late 1990´s at a ripe old age. I was intrigued by the olympic rings.
We continued our walk and after a few hours stopped on a wooden jetty at the side of one of the smaller lakes for a bit of lunch (there is a photo of it in our photo section). We relaxed and ate for an hour and I lost all concept of time and could have stayed there all day.
When we returned to the hostel I used the remarkable power of Google to identify who Otto was. He aparantly represented Argentina at the Winter olympics in 1948 and 52, competing in 6 events with a best finish of 54th. Not a particularly distinguished olympic career, but if he spent the majority of his life in and around the mountains of Bariloche Im quite sure he had alot of joy in his life.
Alot of the pleasure of travelling has been meeting people, and in Bariloche we met some very nice people indeed. Pedro is a Dutch long-term traveller who sold his house for a life of travelling, looks like a throwback from the hippie 1970´s and could be any age from 40 - 60. He is a true gentleman. Michelle is a timid and charming lawyer from London who has gave up the rat race and is trying to live life to the full on the road. Chris is a tough lad from just outside Leeds with a passion for fly fishing - the reason why he is spending 4 months in South America.
Michelle, Seonaid and I took a bus to another town close to Bariloche and hired some bikes for the day. We had a great day climbing a steep mountain to a ski resourt, then down to a beach at the foot of a lake, and finally back to get the bus home. About 25 miles in total, and at the end Seonaid had me laughing as she summarised her predicament "My legs are so sore I wont be able to stand tomorrow, and my ass is so sore I wont be able to sit either" . I had visions of her in a state of limbo between sitting and standing. I must admit I am bewildered by bikes. They seem to make use of some of the most brilliant inventions in our history, the wheel, gears, but have so far failed to develop a seat that gives reasonable comfort.
On another day we went to El Bolson, which was populated by hippies in the 1970´s. They started an alternative society there.Now is had a popular hippy market where Seonaid and Michelle bought bracelets and I had a lovely sweet beer.
On our final day in Bariloche we went with Pedro to the foot of a mountain, looking over the lake where he was good enough to give Seonaid and I a very relaxing Thi Chi lesson.
Bariloche and the people we met there were a real pleasure and we were genuinely sorry to be moving on. But move on we did, and with the soundtrack of the popular 80´s TV show "The Littlest Hobo" in our heads, we set off for Chile..."There´s a voice, that keeps on calling me...down the road..thats where Ill always be...every stop I make I make a new friend...cant stay for long, just turn around, Im gone again".