Los Angeles/Pucon, Chile -
After waking up early we walked to the bus station and caught the next bus to Los Angeles with our sights set on going to Salto del Laja (which we saw right from our bus window as we drove passed it the first time - not knowing we could have stopped on the way in and just hopped the next bus we saw the rest of the way to town.) So, upon arrival we had no idea where to go and with no mapa we agreed that it wasn´t going to be cheap or reasonable to stay for long so we got back on the same bus we just came in on and rode back out to the salto - which made the bus attendants day. El Salto was practically deserted except for a few perservering vendors and some street dogs. In about 15 minutos we saw all there was to see and waited a total of 15 minutos to wave down the next bus that came screeching to a halt to take our money - I mean, pick us up. Once back in L.A. we got billetas to our next destination - Pucon, Chile whose bus was leaving from la ultra terminal so they threw us on one bus to crawl across the city to la ultra terminal where they threw us on our bus as it was literally pulling out of the station. After a long day of traveling we crashed at the closest hostel where we finally got to take long, hot showers - a luxury taken for granted in Estados Unidos.
Valdivia, Chile -
When we arrived in Valdivia the sun finally broke through the clouds and the weather was beautiful. We found a hostel near the bus stop that I thought was shit but surprised me when we found out there was Ingles cable. The town is situated on an old port and the highlight of the whole time was at the market on the water´s edge where fishmongers would throw leftover bits of their catch to HUGE awaiting seals (we think.) A gate seperated them from climbing right up into the market so we were able to get up really close as they barked or moaned or whatever they were doing as they fought each other for a spot up front. In the morning we watched Wally World, had a good breakfast of hot rolls w/butter, cheese, ham, salami & te and caught the next bus to Osorno.
Osorno, Chile / Bariloche, Argentina! -
I really cannot say enough about how utterly beautiful this 5hr bus ride was - begining in Chile with green, green pastures & volcanos coming in and out of view and morphing into dramatic Argentinian mountains with blue, blue waters at their feet and then yellow fields that extend forever into the horizon. Every turn we were amazed and finally had to stop taking crappy through the bus ventana pictures and commit what we were seeing to memory. Next time around we´re going in the summer and in a car so we can stop and camp everywhere. It was a very memorable and joyous experience. Argentina is simply amazing.
Nestled between snow capped mountains and a lake, Bariloche, is a pricey little winter destination for residents with unfortunate streets filled with dumb, overpriced stores all selling the same exact things. We stayed (for 2 nights) at this neat little hostel up in the penthouse of an apartment building with views of the lake. We did a lot of napping because I´m sick and need to get better so I appear healthy when crossing the border.
El Bolson, Argentina -
Once the sun broke through the clouds the 2hr bus ride from pricey Bariloche to the laid-back hippie town of El Bolson was full of beauty as well. Most of the ride was along the edge of lakes with water the colors of nothing you´ve seen before - greens, deep blues & caribbean ocean blues all swirled within the currents together. Once off the bus we discovered how cold it was there and as our feet crunched the earth and breath left our bodies we hastened to get to the hostel (which was toasty warm upon entering.) I had to break out my winter jacket walking around town in effort to get better. We had lunch and again opted for a nap in the room. When we woke up we set out in search of tea for my sore throat and food for Nate´s belly and found both at this cute cafe right around the corner where we read guidebooks for a few hours by the fire. That night we tossed and turned beside each other in a twin bed. When I woke up for the 1,000 time that night and checked the clock on my ipod I was thrilled to see it was 8:45 en la manana and time to get up - although you would never know it as the sun doesn´t hit the valley until around 10. And either ´cause Nate went to the bathroom or ´cause I stopped for dos media lunas or ´cause the lady cut in front of us in line we just missed the bus to Esquel and had hours to kill ´til the tres de la tarde one. So back to the cafe we went and sat around all morning ordering te after te to justify the fact that we were still there. Around noon Nate noticed they were finally setting up the artisan market which I had totally forgotten about so we went out to browse and kill more time. About 100 hippies with dirty, dirty hands were setting up their tables and we walked up and down the market so I could scope everything out before making my purchases. One of the hippes who spoke a little English offer to sell us weed which I would have bought if not for fear of getting ¨locked up abroad.¨ Though I´m usually good at talking my way in & out of things my Spanish isn´t THAT great. Back at the station our bus to Esquel was an hour late but when it arrived it was a double decker bus (which we´ve been dying to ride on) and we got to sit in the best seats in the front of the 2nd level with huge windows right in front of us (or a front row seat to our death as I like to think as this thing speeds around corners and we tip over the edge of the cliff.) As I write we are waiting at the Esquel bus station for our executive cama overnight bus to the east coast to Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina and I better find where Nate wandered off too...