Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Off to Argentina

Toby at the bus station in Pucon and us playing Uno waiting at customs between Argentina and Chile.

We are very behind in our postings so I am writing retroactively about our trip over to Bariloche. We took a 6 hr bus ride over the Andes from Pucon to San Martin de Los Andes in Argentina. The trip over was amazing, narrow dirt roads winding up thru the mountains in a huge bus with other huge buses passing wherever they could! There were some amazing volcano views from the crest too then after a relatively painless trip through both Chilean and Argentian customs offices we headed down into the dry steppes of Argentina. Toby and Cass thought customs unnecessarily long and got pretty crabby for the first time on a bus ride. The biggest problem was the heat on the bus and by the time we arrived in San Martin we were forceably keeping them apart! We hadnt been able to get reservations in San Martin which was a bit stressful but fortunately found space at a very nice place right on the lake and only 2 blocks from the bus stop. San Martin reminded us a lot of Aspen, they had strict zoning restrictions so it has kept its small town character with really cute houses and beautiful public buildings of wood and white adobe. But it was also very pricey compared to other places in the area, fancy shops, restaruants and finally - the famous Argentinian chocolate, mmmmm!!! The next morning we caught a bus Bariloche via the scenic 7 lakes route (also mostly dirt) which is stunningly beautiful. It might have been nice to explore more of San Martin or Villa Angostura but we were very ready to find a home. We arrived in Bariloche around 2:30 and by 4:30 I was looking at houses with a realtor. We lucked out and found a fabulous spot about 10 km outside of Bariloche in a village called Los Coihues (means Big Trees in Mapuche). We chose this area because it is where the spanish school we hoped to attend was and it is rural while still being accessible to the city. We have a cute townhouse with no neighbors and the sweetest landlords, Lilliana and Ricardo who welcomed us with open arms (literally, the Argentinians kiss everyone all the time!). We are 1 minute from a grocery store, on a public bus route but across the street from a huge open space area and 5 minutes from the lake, Lago Guiterrez. There is a beach right in the village that is nice but rocky, and a sandy beach about a half hour walk (for the kids) down the lake in the national park. The other big perk is that we are only a 2 hour walk from ¨the Frey¨a famous rock climbing area that Dave is hoping to explore. The village has about 50 houses and probably about the same number of stray dogs. Unlike in Central America, the strays here are big, lots of german shephard types. Talk about immersion therapy, Toby is getting over his dog issues pretty fast. Toby and Cassidy were very happy to settle into a new house and love the cuisine here - lots of chocolate and pasta (big Italian influence) and for steak! (and for us, $1 bottles of wine that are tasty!!!).

Four days after our arrival, Shannon´s parents came for a visit. They had flown into Santiago then took a route over the Andes from Puerto Montt that goes from bus to boat to bus to boat (7 times I think). After a lot of confusion about the time and location of their arrival, we were united in Puerto Panuelo outside of Bariloche. We were all VERY happy to see some family. They stayed for 7 days and we had a great mix of touristy things and hanging out by the lake. We took a trip up the Gondola to Cerro Otto which overlooks Nahuel Huapi the huge lake on which Bariloche sits and did a hike from the top where we could look down over the back side and see our lake. The high point for the kids was a revolving restaraunt at the top with delicious cakes , I think most of our posts from Argentina are going to mention food. Another day we rented a car and drove down to El Bolson on a day they have their big artesan fair. We had heard that El Bolson was a hippie enclave and they werent kidding, lots of dread locks and patchuli oil there. We also did a hike WAY up above town, sorry rental car, to a Sculpture Forest, of literaly, carved tree stumps and then above to a beautiful refugio with really cute kittens and an amazing view of the valley and surrounding peaks. We didnt get back to our house until 12:30 and still motivated to go out on a boat tour of the big lake the next day. This tour took us to a famous Arrayanes forest, myrtle trees, in the only place myrtles grow as trees instead of bushes.

1 comment:

stefan said...

It looks so beautiful there! Sounds like you are all having a great time and will continue to have plenty to explore and experience in the next few weeks. So, are you glad not to be LIVING in El Bolson?