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Published: April 5th 2013
31 hours is a long time, especially when it is comprised of 4 different buses (including one that caught fire), 3 passport checkpoints, and some very boring scenery. But that is what we endured to get from El Chalten to Puerto Madryn.
The night before we left, we splurged and went to La Vineria, a wine bar / artesinal beer house in El Chalten. Dinner comprised of a cured meat plate, cheese plate and vegetable plate. The cheeses were nothing new for us, but on the meat plate we had things like boar procsiutto and wild venison pate, amongst many other delectable salamis etc... Instead of wine, we worked our way through 5 bottles of patagonian microbrewery dark ales. All were very good, a couple outstanding. They played great tunes, and the owner looked after us, as we aked him to recommend most of our beer selection. Mojo has acquired the taste of a good dark beer now, which is great as i get to try two beers at once! We left wishing that we had been to this place earlier in our stay, as there was many many more beers to try and a bunch of wine. And, it was still a fair bit cheaper then the shitty meal we had the night before.
The next morning, our first bus leg involved getting on a bus at 8am at El Chalten, while it was still dusk. The 3 hour drive to El Calafate was pretty, with the sun rising and casting a nice pinky orange glow on the mountain ranges. We killed the hour layover in El Calafate by visiting our favourite panaderia for a coffee.
The next leg was a 4.5 hour bus ride down to Rio Gallegos, some of which was passed watching a movie with JLo and Jason Statham, the rest was spent sleeping. Both involved a bit of drool escaping the mouth as the brain went numb. We also got pulled over for two passport/document controls. Arriving in Rio Gallegos, we were happy that we had a bus ride that night. No offence to the place, but it looked very much like an industrial city, and transport hub to get north.
For our final leg, our bus left at 7pm for a supposed 18 hour ride to Puerto Madryn. We had paid the extra bit of cash to get cama seats, which are wider and recline more then the standard seats. The seats were comfortable, but i was still not able to fully extend my legs. We were under the impression that we got a basic dinner and breakfast on the ride, but a few hours in we realised that there was no dinner coming. Thank god for the packet of oreo's i bought at Rio Gallegos. Around 11pm we pulled into a bus terminal, and we got some ham and cheese baguettes. After whoofing them down, we tried sleeping until around 2am, when mojo woke up and smelt smoke. Shortly after, the bus pulled over and she saw the bus driver grab the fire extinguisher and walk round to the back of the bus. After 30 minutes or so, we were off again, but the bus stopped numerous times during the night to check on what caused the problems...
Waking in the morning, the scenery is i guess Argentina's equivalent to the Nullabor plain in Australia. It is dead flat, no trees just some grass and cactus-like ground cover and the road is completely straight. We are fed with a chocolate biscuit and some ingredients to make tea or coffee from a supposed hot water dispenser behind us that looks like it was last serviced when Diego Maradona was still playing for the national side.
The bus gets to Trelew, around an hour south of our final destination, when everyone is told to get off the bus and collect our luggage. After a confusing 20 minutes, we find out that we have to get on another bus, which will turn up soon... It does, and we finish off the rest of our journey, getting into Puerto Madryn jut before 4pm weary after our first big bus trip.
We have found a nice hostel, La Tosca, and have got a room for 2 nights. Puerto Madryn is where at the right time of year, you can see whales,seals, elephant seals, penguins and orcaas. This is the place that you see on David Attenborough's doco's where the orcaas beach themselves to snatch baby seals.
It is the end of the season, and the tours are still expensive, so we have decided to push on, and tomorrow we have a 20hr bus ride to Cordoba, where we intend to stay for a week or two, taking a spanish course and chilling out after 5 weeks of Patagonia.
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