Right, let me get a few things straight.
Firstly, yes, Mary, you are getting old (a big South Anerican Feliz Cumpleaños to ya! Sorry that Craigs´ culinary skills led to a cupcake with candle at 7.30 - hope the rest of the day improved! xxx) it was the blog for the beginning of Feb, I am very far behing because:
1 We havr been very busy having an absolutely fantastic time in Patagonia (yes Dave, it is all its cracked up to be and more)
2 Remoteness has led to internet failure which is why I think some phots have not uploaded or are late
3 Kim refuses to help with doing the blogs as `Its like homework and I´m on my holidays!´
Secondly, the destination for this blog is misleading as the Kim and Dee travelling saga continues to even greater depths of catastrophe...
So, we have left the big fat party animal and Bariloche behind (due to Mary´s observations I am updating several blogs in quick succession - plus, I cant wait to tell you all about Patagonia!). We have arrived in El Bolson, planning to stay a night, have more steak, leave and get down south. That WAS the plan.
After trying two hostels we checked into a dorm and went to get a bus, but after trawling several companies our choice was clear - stay three days in the sleepy hollow that was El Bolson, or get the flock outta there that evening. We plumped for the latter and without the blink of an eye, or a receipt! we handed over 150 pounds for our bus.
On the way back to the hostel we had another `discussion´about the lack of planning and organising for this trip I was taking great umbridge with (once a project manager etc etc), but the hostal were cool and never charged us a penny. We killed time in a pizza place and had a horrible chocolate cake with the Argentinian staple diet of Dulce de Leche. This is basically caramelised milk with 3 tonne of sugar and ruins the taste of everything for 3sq mile. But they put it on everything.
10.30 and our 36hr bus journey starts like we should expect for me and Kim. Badly. We were told bus journeys in Argentina were great - really comfy, good food and they even served you wine! Instead, our bus was as old as Kim´s Micra, with only reclinning seats there was no way you could sleep, and no sign of food except stuff that was closer to cardboard and plastic. The cup of water was a nice touch tho.
Anyway, we are short so were better off than most. And tho not the best route, we were gonna be travelling the famous Route 40 through the wilds of Patagonia!
That was until midnight when the bus decided not to work anymore. Now, most people were asleep or oblivious, but I have raced enough to know the smell of when a clutch has had enough, and ours had taken its ball and gone home for dinner.
3hrs and on 4 gears later it had cooled down enough for us to trundle to the backwater of what is known as Rio Mayo. The best thing there was an old Ford Escort that reminded me of Uncle Henry´s. Our Neilly took me out in it once to play golf and when `I can see clearly now the rain has gone´ is played I always remember him hurtling thru Lisburn! Anywho, we were stuck. The Operations Manager for the bus company is either a gimp or was on permanent siesta, as it took them another 8hrs to send another bus.
In the meantime we met another couple, from just outside Blackrock in South Dublin. OK, they were from the South Side, but it was nice to hear familiar accents. We did what the Irish do best in a crisis, found the nearest carryout shop, sat outside the gas station and leeched off their wifi to get regular updates on the Scotland v Wales 6Nations game. Unfortunately Scotland played as well as our bus drove. Still, the craic was good.
Eventually one minibus came to take us to the next town, but only enough for 12 of the 30 so they went and waited in another town, while the Irish drank. We had some decorum though when 3hrs later the bus came back. We were 2hrs down the rd for the next town, when one big bus passed and flashed his lights. And you know what happens next. The first group to the next town got picked up by the bug bus, made its way to Rio Mayo, picked us up on the road, while the minibus went to get the last lot. Safe to say Briege, the lack of organisation got to me so I lost the bap at this stage and went mad at the driver. Obviously not knowing the fluent French I was speaking he went about his business.
As we were transferring bags from minibus to big bus, though, some (insert expletive) Irsreali girl barged in. When I explained to her what I thought of that she merely replied `Well, I´m a girl and cant hold my bag (something something I didnt hear for anger)´. Hows that for womens´lib and her probably straight from her years´army service!?! Even Vicky (one half of Irish pair we met, Adam being the other) said `yeah, some use it when it suits them then give ya s*** when you dont allow it´.
I had to move on quickly tho as many bags needed transferred, and the bus driver was too old to get all of them in. And he was making a hash of it with the level of ignorance people were throwing theirs bags at him with.
Without hesitation I jumped into the cargo hold and started sorting the bags and putting them in. Adam was helping but some people, from a certain part of the world, just threw their bags at me without regard and sauntered on into the bus. No thought for the favour I was doing. That made me mad. My typical Irish emotional-ness helped me vent such frustrations to them quite adequately tho. By the time I got on after the bag-loading the crowd were in a less arrogant mode.
We sat on this road in the middle of nowhere for another three hours while we waited for the minibus to return with the last lot. The reason it took so long...inevitably the minibus blew a tyre! ANyway, we got them back. But 6 Americans/Europeans and one bottle of wine dont mix - they were smashed!!! It was funny tho.
We probably got some crappy film that I cant remember now, but what I do remember is the next super decision. Rather than sticking to the original and famous Route 40 (the reason a lot of people chose this bus) they cut across country to the better, and faster, Route 3 along the coast! Right then I was ready to string up the said Ops Manager.
After a crappy 30hr journey that ended up more like 44 (only cut short by the Route 3 detour) we ended up in El Calafate. A place we would use as the hub of our Patagonian expidition and where we would come to consider home for the half of Feb.