After being stuck at the border for almot 2 hours we finally make it to Hostel El Poncho in Bariloche late evening. Now Bariloche is kinda like a cross between the lake district back home and switzerland but on a much larger scale, instead of hills you have mountains/volcanoes and the lakes are like mini oceans. Anyway after looking round the ample amount of chocolate and clothes shops we decided to spend the next day hiking in the national park area. So knowing we had a 8am start so we stayed in and cooked the rest of our pasta for dinner. We shared some conversation, wine and raspberries with a Dutch guy called Thomas, who bizarrely had been to Harrogate 3 times!
The bus collected us at 8am and we set off towards the national park. Our guide Alejandra was lovely, she had a seemingly never-ending supply of Mate (a type of tea they drink here) and herb tea which she shared with everyone. After 2 hours of a bumpy drive, during which time we passed the lake of 7 colours (truly beautiful, we saw greens, blues and greys, unfortunately we weren’t able to take photos!) we
arrived at the black glacier. Alejandra took us up a hill to a good viewpoint and we took a few photos whilst being buffeted with wind and rain. We then had some lunch and set off on our walk to the other glacier. We chatted with a few people and after 3 hours walking reached the 2nd glacier. The end of 7km glacier hung precariously at the edge of a sheer rock face, and on the walk to and form the glacier we heard what sounded like thunder, which was large chunks of ice falling away (unfortunately we didn;t see this sight. We found wild strawberries and ate them (after eating quite a few Em had a momentary panic that they weren’t strawberries and that we would be poisoned – but Alejandra reassured her that they were ok).
That night we treated ourselves to a meat fest that is Parilla. We ordered the mixed meat and got some steak (3 cuts of beef), chicken, sausage and then of course the offal... kidney, intestine and black pudding. We tried everything except the intestine (Em – my stomach did a flip-flop just looking at it). I was quite keen on the
black pudding and polished it off spread on some bread like pate.
The next day was rainy day and we were bored... walked round, felt a bit moody but sorted out skype (with Madonna-style headphones!)
Off south to the hippy town of El Bolson which has a micro climate and is famous for beer and fruit. As we arrived the clouds cleared, perfect weather ensued and the smiles returned to our faces. We stayed at Hostel Peuheunia, which was an amazing hostel, and our host Valeria was so helpful, she booked for us to do horse-riding and recommended places to eat and drink. We tried out one of her recommendations (El Bolson cervezaria) and ended up going back 3 times during our stay and trying every beer on the menu!.
Over breakfast we met Adrian and Stephanie – who we got on with well (chatting for 2 hours). We agreed to meet them in Mendoza for the wine festival, which as luck would have it coincides with Em’s birthday! We then headed off to the local market to browse and get some lunch. The market was amazing and had lots of hand crafted goods
(jewellery, clothes, furniture, toys) and home-made foods (pastrys, juices, jams, cheeses and local fruit).
In the afternoon we went horseriding. Both the owner and one of the horses were called Simon (unfortunately Simon the horse was too fast for beginners!). As the only English speaking guide set off with the Spanish group, we were left with a 16 year called Pablo, who spoke no English. We quickly searched the dictionary to ask how to ask the horses to go slower (say shhhh and pull the reins) and stop(the same as go slow but a bit harder)! I wanted to know how to go faster (click, click and tap on the bum with a branch), . Let’s say that the ride was muy tranquillo (tranquil) partly because after asking ‘de donde eres’(where are you from) and ‘cuantos anos tiene’ (how old are you) we pretty much ran out of our Spanish.
It was funny that the personality of horses reflected their riders – my horse kept braking into a trot and despite Em saying she had complete control of her horse, it kept veering off into the bushes to eat thistle flowers, leaves, grass etc (it was the horse
equivalent of Em’s family dog Louis). All in all it was a great introduction to horse-riding – Pablo was very kind and didn’t laugh even as Em struggled to get back on her horse (Em – my horse was quite a lot bigger than Simon’s and so harder to get on!) Highlights were the beautiful scenery, Cascade Escondida (waterfall) and the Cabeza del Indio (which is a man’s face in the rock). I wasn’t quite as good at riding as I had imagined (think Gandalf on Shadowfax or Chevez in Young Guns) but I think I was getting there... Feeling slightly saddle sore after 3 and a half hours riding, I decided to make us walk the 6km back to El Bolson (much to Em’s dismay). We were covered from head to foot in dust (from riding and also from walking along a long dusty road) and had much needed showers.
The evening was spent sampling more local beers (completing the menu) and chatting with Adrian and Stefani at our favourite bar!
We loved El Bolson and were sorry we had to leave so soon, especially as the next night (Sunday) was the legendary BBQ at the hostel
– but perhaps another time!
Next stop back over the border to Chile and on to the island Chiloe where apparently it rains all year round!
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