been a whyle, so i figured i´d shoot a quick email from my transient residence in bariloche. it´s a pretty rediculous set up that i´ve got here... a swiss chalet style house with 5 bedrooms, a full kitchen, and indescribable views from various bay windows. my bedroom window overlooks the enormous lago naguel huapi, which branches into a few fjord-like arms complete with fjord-like islands and inlets scattered here and there... i´ve attached a photo that i took from my bedroom window... pretty rediculous.
anyhow, the people i´m living with are too good to be true. a very latin local argentine, two swiss germans on a multiple year bicycle trip through south america, and two french canadians. from the first minute i was in the house, it felt like we were reunited family... everybody in the house is a major smart ass, which works out perfectly for me.
bariloche itself is quite like a mountain town in north america. climbing bums, fishing bums, river rats, posh resorts for wealthy holiday-goers, etc. but it also has a great feel to it. you can´t walk downtown without seeing several travelers with backpacks bopping around the streets. travelers from every corner of the world... pretty amazing community of similar personalities converging on such a small town in northern patagonia.
the surrounding area is about as rediculous as anywhere i´ve seen. some of the most jagged peaks, bright cobalt and torquoise lakes, waterfalls, bamboo forests, temperate rainforests, glaciers, and on and on. this past week, i went into the andes for a few days to bounce from refugio to refugio. refugios are somewhat like alpine hostels, generally complete with one bedroom, 30 or so beds, a kitchen, and a dining room. for dinner, a bed, and breakfast, a refugio might cost about $30. i chose to sleep under the stars to save a bit of cash, but the meals were outstanding. and the community and respect in these refugios is indescribable. smiles and laughter all around. handshakes, cultures converging, glasses of beer, all in the most unbelievable locations in the patagonian andes. typically on the shore of a remote glacial lake framed by the most steep and jagged glacier covered mountains i could describe. í don´t think i could imagine anything better than my experiences in these refugios... the friendliest people, the tastiest home cooked dinners and breakfast eaten by candlelight or in the morning sun nosing its way through the 70 year old windows, delicious andean coffee, great music pumped through battery powered boom boxes... bob dylan, mozart, and jethro tull for breakfast yesterday (and no casey, i am not fabricating the jethro tull bit). there´s a photo in this email taken from atop a high alpine pass looking down on refugio san martin, lake jakob, and a typical patagonian mountain landscape. the refugio is near the bottom right of the lake, and a very sweet french girl near the bottom of the photo to add a bit of scale....
anyhow, i walked out of the mountains back to the ´highway,´ which was a very narrow dirt road, with my two swiss german pals. we still had about 20 kilometers between us and home, so we stuck our thumbs out as we walked. we didn´t have much hope considering the fact that i see beautiful argentine women trying to hitch hike in bariloche every day without much success. but we got a ride on the second vehicle. an old cowboy with three horse saddles in the bed of his truck. there were five hikers walking along the road, and he picked all of us up. a nice fellow. i attached another photo of the ride from the back of the truck.
time to cut this one short... i´m off to eat a bit of argentine cuisine. i´ll keep updating as the time continues onward.