Patagonia: Barriloche and El Bolson

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BARRILOCHE

We only lasted in Mendoza for two days and decided to take a bus to San Martin, a small village close to Mendoza to start hitchhiking again. When we arrived to the bus terminal all the buses were gone and we could either spend another expensive night in the unpleasant Mendoza or do something else.

The plan was to reach Barriloche in Patagonia and the tickets we $200 for a 22 hour bus ride. Sign… it was the only option. We got the tickets and head to the platform and guess who we saw? – Kelly again!

22 hours on the bus was exhausting but fun. Jana taught me how to play chests, we listen to all our music on ipod and saw a couple long movies. Upon arriving to Barriloche a CouchSurfer Rodrigo was expecting us. I called him and asked if this girl Kelly we met on the bus could come with us.

– Hm…. -I heard on the other side of the line. – Sure!

It was Rodrigo’s first CouchSurfing experience. I felt bad that he though I am just dragging a random girl along to his place. He didn’t know Kelly and I went long back.

The Barriloche experience was great. Rodrigo put us in charge of his entire apartment that he kept for rainy days with his girlfriend Mariana, he took us to beautiful lakes and trails, fed us delicious cheese and meet and even went out with us to a disco.

EL BOLSON

The disco pretty much killed my friend Jana. She was so destroyed that through out the whole hitchhike from Barriloche she was asleep. I am not sure if she even realized that we got three rides and got from one town to another in less then 2 hours. It was like carpooling. The next car would stop as the other would drop us off.

When we arrived to El Barriloche, my friend Martin that I met in Ecuador was waiting for at the market where he was making puppets, smoking pot and playing chest with his local hippi friends.

– Am I at a Saturday Market in Portland, Oregon? – I thought. It was exactly just like a Portlandia episode: hippies, young people who decided to retire, food carts, mountains, organic food and local vegetable growth.

Martin walked us to his must-be-60 y.o. dusty, falling-apart auto. We barely fit in with our bags and made it up the hill through the rocky dusty road to his hobbit hole.

He built the house himself and it was a size of a shoe-box with a little first floor living area and a second floor bedroom. You had to pee and poo outside. As soon as we settled the bags, Jana crashed from the total fatigue of fiesta and rumba in Bariloche.

– Can you help me clean a little, please? – asked me Martin

– Of course – I was so happy to help.

– The plants need to be watered – he said.

So, I watered the plants, we made delicious dinner with stake, wine and chocolate, played music. Martin smoked and even the smell was nice. Everything was piece-full, relaxed and calm.

The next day Jana and I went on a hike and Jana asked:

– Did you see all his baby marijuana?

-What marijuana? – I asked surprisingly.

-Did you see his plants? All of his plants were! – said Jana.

I had no idea I watered all the plants and had no idea.

El Bolson was a great relaxing point of the trip but we had to keep going South – Hasta El Fin.

It was hard to get a ride from El Bolson anywhere. Martin asked a friend who took us from the town and then we  stood in rain for overly 40 minutes with big smile and a sign until a rock-climber stopped and took us 3 hours south to a gas station.

 

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Hitchhiking in Argentina – “a dedo”

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We crossed the border, walked a few meters to the nearest gas station and said – LETS HITCHHIKE! Guess what? Not the best idea. Nobody stopped. People were laughing, passing us, and we were hot and miserable on the corner of unknown town with our sign.

We decided to take a bus to  Humahuaca and try again. Walking to the terminal of La Quiaca we got our breakfast empanadas where they had the best promotion I have seen: 1 empanada for 3 pesos or 3 empanadas for 10~! Them we bargained to get cheapest fare to La Quiaca  and settled in a comfy bus.

After an hour ride the bus was stopped and everyone had to get out to form two lines: men separately from women. Our bags were examined with strong hands of handsome draconian Argentinian officials and the bags of Argentinians and Bolivians were emptied, thrown on the dirty ground and kicked with worn black leather boots. My heart was all torn up.

When we finally got to Humahuaca everything was closed and as we learned later, Argentina went into a massive across-nation nap and rest between 1pm and 4pm.

We walked to the nearest highway, got the sign out and tried again. We read a few blogs about hitchhiking and it said your could be waiting long, be discouraged but have to be persistent.

So were and it only took us 15 minutes before a big truck rolled to the side of the road and picked us up. Jana didn’t speak too much Spanish and I had to do the job. The guy was super nice and took almost all the way to Salta where our nice CouchSurfing host Rosa was waiting for us to take us to her house.