Published: October 30th 2008October 30th 2008
I did a update in english a few weeks ago but in less than one second, I lost everything so i hope this won t happen again otherwise I ll just give up on writing this blog, so frustrating!!
Anyway, I left the cheapest country in South America to arrive to the most expensive one, Chile, quite a shock!! I was also quite surprises to leave a country where we had been on sand roads for days and as soon as we crossed the border, I feel like I m in Europe, very good roads, signalization everywhere, despite I m in the middle of a desert!!
Together with Fabien and Elise, we had arrived in the desert of Atacama. Again, we were quite shocked when we arrived in the touristic village. So close to Bolivia but so different!! It took me a very long time to get used to the idea that I would not see markets like in Bolivia anymore, it made me sad… Everything was so expensive in Chile, I could not accept that, therefore, Fabien and Elise were very kind to share their tent with me and the 3 of us camped but I did not have
the equipment for it, no mattress, no good sleeping bag… I slept with all my clothes and my hot water bottle but I was still cold! We had met other people in the campsite, they were traveling by motorbike. Altogether we had a barbecue, it made me smile when everyone brought their knife and fork and the Japanese couple brought their stick! It took me a while to make up my mind to go and see the geyser because it was very expensive; Fabien and Elise were not going. I was meant to leave at 4am I did not sleep the whole night because I was cold and I was afraid of not waking up but unfortunately, my phone did not have the right time, so I waited for the bus to pick me up 2 hours late!! Generally people pay and go or people don t pay and don t go but in my case, it was different, I paid and did not go!! I was so gutted!! Of course, the company would not give me back my money but they were not too bad, they let me go on a tour in the afternoon to see the sunset
on the Moon Valley (which cost 3 times less but at least I did not lose the whole thing!). But I was angrier with myself than anything else… The following day, it was time for Fabien, Elise and I to split, they were going to Santiago and I was going to the north of Argentina. In the bus to Salta, I met a Belgium couple.
When we got there, we looked for a hostel together, then they offered me to share the car they were going to rent to visit around Salta. Of course I accepted and we left the following morning to explore the North of Salta, Jujuy and the Humahuac Valley. It was beautiful; it is still very similar to the south of Bolivia and the North of Chile in terms of landscape, desertic, red rocks and giant cactus. It gives you such a feeling of freedom to have your own car, and I was quite lucky, Patrick and Melanie were good fun. We spent 3 days exploring the North and then we went to the south of Salta, in Cashi and then Cafayate. The landscape is always slightly different than anything we had seen before with
more plains and then whiter rocks but always beautiful. We took 3 local and old-ish women hitchhiking in the middle of nowhere, it was very interesting to have a conversation with them, I ve realized then than here people can not accept that they don t know so they tell you something else, it s not a proper lie, it s just than they can accept defeat. It made me smile. In Cafayate, we went to wine tasting and we visited vineyard as well. I did not expect to see such a place in such a dry place. We went walking in the Canyon too, it was vey pleasant. We satyed, by chance in a place recommended by the French guide book, therefore, only French people were there, we did a big Asado (equivalent of Barbecue but pieces of meat are way bigger and way nicer!!!). I met some people like Julien, Fanny and Jerome that were traveling south as well so it was very likely that I would meet them again. On the way back to Salta, we crossed the Quebrada de Cafayate, it was splendid (more red rocks)!! In Salta, I had decided to change the mean of
traveling, Fabien and Elise had told me about Couch Surfing, therefore I was about to try it. Believe it or not but the principle of Couch Surfing is to offer a couch for people to stay for free! It s a website where you subscribe and you get reference as you get to know people, therefore it s quite secure because if there is anything wrong with someone, other travelers would warn you. Starting to do that changed completely my travel now, I have my eyes opened on a different world that I did not know before, you see things from the inside. In Salta, I was quite lucky, I stayed with a Canadian guy, Fred, who had a splendid flat, I felt a bit more at home. Moreover, there was a sauna, a Jacuzzi and a gym there but unfortunately I had caught a cold therefore I could not use any of those. We went on a picnic in the river where only locals go, I met other people there who were host or surfer, I had a really good time. Then I decided to leave to go to Mendoza, I thought of going to Cordoba but I had
been told it was good for partying but I felt weak for partying therefore I gave it a miss, but as we say in French “Chase the natural and it will come back faster” which means what is meant to happen happens anyway!!
There as well I did couch surfing, I was staying with the ambassadors, apparently the best people in town, Diego and German, 2 Argentinean guys. At first, when I got in their little flat, there was only one bedroom so I thought they were gay, but not at all!! They welcomed me, after I waited an hour because they were working but they had to go and work again, therefore I went to meet Fanny and Julien in a tango class. I had just received an email in which they were telling me they were in Mendoza, in this bar, at this time, that was quite a good coincidence. I joined them there, we had a good laugh, Then their friend drove me back “home” around 2am, both the guys were still working, I did not go to bed until 5am, had stuffs to sort out. I woke up the following day at 1pm when German
was coming back from work, he works for TV production, therefore he s got weird hours. I visited Salta in the rest of the afternoon and in the evening when it was time for me to go home, iu ve realized that I did not have the key and I tried to 2 hours to call them but they would not answer. I was in fromnt of the door, starting to feel desperate, it was 10pm and I did not know what to do. I went to a bar next door, tried to call them again, explain the situation to the bar tender, who was so kind and tried to help me. But not long after, he answered and told me he ll be there in a hour or so, so the bar tender put some French TV for me and I could wait there for an hour. When we got to the flat, it was around 12.30pm, German was with a friend and they invited me to go to one of their friend for a drink, when we got there, we drunk amazing wine, since the host was a sommelier. Then they wanted to go to a bar, an
Irish Bar!! I could not say much so I went with them but soon after, it was 2.30am and they wanted to go clubbing!! I followed!! But around 5pm I was so tired, I wanted to go home but German had left with chicas and therefore I went to his friends house with other people to eat a bit, they drop me at “home” around 7am. I did not go to bed until 8am as there were people at home. I could not believe the whole night. I was so desperate, thought I would sleep in a hostel and then I ended up staying up the whole night partying! Was very good fun though! Of course, I could not do much the following day. We got woken up by the work done in the building next door which was very loud! Then together with German and Diego we went for a pizza picnic in the park with his 4x4. Then I walked around Salta, met Jerome (I met him in Cafayate) very briefly and went back home to rest. Indeed it was Friday night and Diego was celebrating his birthday so the night was about to be bigger than the
one before! They both made fun of me when I got out of the shower, apparently it s not only in England that French people have the reputation of not washing themselves!! But I have to say, it is NOT the truth!!! We began the night going to a bar. We sat outside and the table was getting bigger and bigger every 5min! Although Mendoza is the best town for wine, everyone was drinking beer and I was the only one to drink wine as I hate beer! Later we went to a club, I can t explain how crazy this night was, I had a really good laugh! We left around 5pm, together with German we walked back home as Diego was driving everyone home in his pick up. The following day again, I could not do much as I woke up around midday. Together with Diego, we went to get some stuff to do some cooking. Mendoza is the only place so far where I felt so at home. I was living with cool people, It s the only place where I met people I had met before, therefore it gave me the feelings that I knew people
and I had friends. I was meant to stay 2 nights and I ended up staying a week as I did not want to leave as long as I hadn t visited the bodegas (vineyard). It was a great surprise when Fabien and Elise told me they were coming to Mendoza, I ve tried to see them but we missed each other a few times. There was an Asado at some guy´s place on the Saturday night, but the guys said it to me only at 8.30pm, like 2 hours before!! When I got there, there was a big community of couch surfers but also of French people who are studying in Mendoza. Again, it was a crazy night and it reminded me a lot of the student party we used to have when I was an Erasmus student, good fun! The problem is that, all that was not helping me to visit around Mendoza. On Sunday, it was Mother´s Day here in Argentina, and Diego invited me to come in his family for the day. It was absolutely incredible, another Asado, of course as it is sacred here!! We ate the whole day, very good food! It was great
to get to know this people, the exchange that I had was fascinating, for once I could give, they were very interested in how things are done in Europe, so we had a really good exchange. I don t know if everyone is like that here or not but every Argentinean that I have met so far are so kind and so giving. Thank you! Finally on Monday morning, I met Elise and Fabien and we went to visit the bodegas by bike, doing some wine tasting. In the evening, we had another Asado at Fabien and Elise hostel with other people from couch surfing. The day after, Diego took a day off and drove us (with Elise and Fabien) to Puenta del Inca, next to the Aconcagua (highest mountain in South America 6962m) This time I did not climb it, it s closed anyway and too expensive! We had another amazing day driving around. I don t know what we were all thinking abour when we went to see the Aconcagua at 3100m high. We were not ready for the cold at all! Elise was wearing a summer dress and they were in flip flops in the snow!! Diego
tried to make a windproof dress for her out of his tent that he had in his pick up. We can lough about it now but there it was quite painful. I was meant to leave the same evening but I missed the bus. Then for the first time, we had a quiet night watching TV, that was great too… I took it very easy on my last day in Mendoza, but still, I was about to miss my bus, I arrived just in time before the bus left to Bariloche.
It was another 18hours bus journey; I was crossing France once more, just to change cities. Luckily, buses here are really great and therefore I slept all the way. I was surprised to see the landscape when we got there. I had definitely left desertic places and I was now in a forested place, green and with lakes everywhere. Some people said it looks like the Alps but I have no idea, never been there, I just liked it for what it is. I had found a guy for couch surfing but he got back to me a bit late therefore I went to a hostel instead. It
was full so I had to share the room of one of the employee, Joe, an American guy, doing the night shift in the hostel. I was a bit shocked to arrive in a place with so many travelers and where everyone speaks English when I had been used to only speak Spanish for a while. Therefore I cooked and then hide in my room the first night. In the afternoon, I had been to Cerro Otto, which is a mount close to the city where you have a splendid view. I got there just before it closed, enjoyed the view, and had a media luna in the most expensive confiteria, since it rotates so you can enjoy the view. But once again, I witnessed how kind Argentineans are and actually the bar tender offered the media luna to me! The following day, I had decided to do some walking, I took a bus for a hour to go to Villa de Angostora, once there I realized to get to the beginning of the trail there was another 3km and the bus had just left. Therefore I started to walk, tried to do some hitchhiking but it would not work,
the only car which stops was a taxi!! I started the trek on the peninsula but I had no information before therefore I was surprised when they told me it was 12km one way!! I could take the boat on the way back but it was so expensive. So I started walking, I was absolutely alone, I ve got to say I felt a bit weird to walk like that on my own but after a while I really enjoyed it in fact. I got worried when I realized it took me 45min to do 1km! I was stopping all the time to take pictures! So for the 11km left, I walked normally and in less then 2 hours I arrived at the other end of the peninsula to visit a forest of orange trees, Arrayanes. It was so quiet there, I did not meet anyone on the path, it s only when I was going back that I met some people coming this way. I briefly met a Canadian couple and when I finished the walk, they had just arrived by boat so they give me a lift until the bus station. They were traveling around Argentina with their
camper van. I find it always very interesting to meet people other than the normal traveler who stays in hostel and follow the beaten track. In the evening, I was a bit more in a sociable mood. I cooked at the hostel, where everyone was doing the same, it was quite funny to see what/how everyone eat. I met a couple, Martin is german and Christina is from Moldavie, I had never heard of this country before, part of Europe; always interesting to learn something new. I was meeting Patrick, Melanie and Julien in a week time to do the circuit W in Torres del Paines together in Chile. And Martin and Christina were very keen to join us too. I was worried that I would not get there on time, as there were other things I wanted to do before crossing to Chile. The following day, I went for a walk with Joe, my room mate, he insisted to come with me, even though he had not sleep the whole night as he was working. He made us miss the bus to the place I wanted to go therefore we ended up doing something different but it was meant
to be very short, like 9km. But we ended up walking very slowly as he was trying to teach me photography. We were supposed to get the bus on the other side, to get back but once again we missed the bus! But this time we were there, waiting for it but not at the right place!! We ended up hitchhiking, and an old man was kind enough to drive us back. I had to rush to get my bag, go to the bus terminal and I made it just on time to go to Puerto Madryn to see the whales.
It was another 15hours bus journey. I arrived in Madryn just after 7am on a Sunday morning and did not exactly know what I would do. There was a tour going for the whole day on Peninsula Valdes but it was expensive and I could not make up my mind on what I should do. I waited so long that the tour left without me. I was not feeling very well, In Bariloche, Joe had waken me up very early the first day to watch the sun rise and I think I caught a cold at that
time. I was then feeling pretty bad on the bus, with fever. I was a bit better when I got in Puerto Madryn but not 100%. I finally decided to go to the peninsula directly and see once there what I would do; the problem was that there was only on bus a day to go there and one bus a day to come back, which arrived to late for me to go to catch my bus to Chile. Therefore I took the bus and decided I would see once there. I went to a hostel I found quite expensive but I was too tired to look for another one. But I was pretty lucky in fact, in the evening, there was a big Asado there. There were not many clients at all in the hostel but around 20 friends (living in this little town of 400 inhabitants) came to the Asado that night, giving it a dimension completely different. They were all working there, on the boat or in the office or the hostel or restaurant… There were 2 other foreigners too who were working there, I could have stayed there and work too. I met Romina, whose family
owns most of the business there and she was actually a couch surfer too! I could not believe it, I did not try in this little town because it was too small but I bumped into her randomly! It is like a hidden society! In the afternoon, I had walked around 6km along the cost to see the whales, it was incredible who close they were, how many there were and how acrobatic they were too! I spent hours to look at them. There were sea lions too but I was fascinated by the whales. At one point, there was a couple turning back but obviously they had not seen the whales so I pointed it to them and they were so pleased to see it. We started to talk a bit and that s how I met the most amazing couple Nathalia and Horacio. The following day there were going on the boat, like me and they offered me to join them to watch the penguins 150km south of Puerto Madryn, in Punta Tumbo. They give me a lift back at my hostel and we would see each other in the morning. The following day, I was ready to
go on the boat with the staff that I had met the night before, but I was also waiting for Nati and Horacio who arrived just on time, since I had asked the staff to wait a bit more for them. It was a weird feeling, I felt like I was there with friends I ve known for a long time… Whale watching was absolutely amazing, they are so huge, they come so close, I felt like I was in discovery channel, very impressive! In the afternoon we drove 1h30 to see the penguins, it was funny to see them, but nothing like I expected. There was plenty of them but they were all in their hole, watching their eggs and not all on the beach as I would have thought. The way they walk made me laugh a lot though! Nati and Horacio were going back 5hours South to the town they live, in Comodoro. They offered me a lift as I was going in the same direction. But in the car, I started to feel really really bad, fever, no voice, could not hear much. When we got in Comodoro, they asked me to stay with them, they
called a doctor for me, they used their insurance so I would not have to pay, Horacio slept on the floor to leave me his bed, they went to the pharmacy to get me medicine, they cooked for me…I could not believe what was happening! Those people did not know me at all but receive me in their home like I was part of the family, they are my angels; they have a golden heart! The following day, they both went to work and I stayed in bed the whole day to rest and watch TV as the doctor told me I should rest for at least 48hours. But I was not getting better, my ear was hurting me so much, my body and my head too, I was coughing so badly. Nati and Horacio were so sweet, I felt really bad, they were preoccupied for me as I was going further south and further cold. Of course I missed the date to go walking in Chile so It has been 3 days that I am at Nati and Horacio´s flat now. I m waiting to get better to leave, they would not let me go without getting better anyway!
Yesterday, Nati´s boss, Mini came to meet me, everyone is so curious about this situation but at the same time so nice, caring and giving. She took me for a tour in her car to see a bit around Comodoro, which is an industrial city for petrol in fact. Then she took me to see the shop where they both work with Nati. She was so nice to me too. Even though I hate the fact that I m sick, I do really enjoy being with those people, I m improving my Spanish so much, I m having so great discussion about everything, history, culture, economy but also about life in general. They are so interesting people, honestly, they are my angels. Nati is looking after me like a mum, giving me my medicines every 8 hours, pressing fresh orange juice for me in the morning… I m looking forward to get better but I ll be very sad to leave them. I went to see the doctor again yesterday who gave me antibiotics this time, so I hope that I ll feel better very soon…
That s it for now! In a word, I m still enjoying my trip
a lot and meeting fabulous people on the way, it s getting better and better. I only have one month left in South America but I don t want to leave this place!
There are more photos below