We have now passed from Chile into Argentina. The border crossing went quite smoothly, 25 people and a truck were through in around one hour. Apparently sometimes this can take as long as 4 hours depending on what sort of day the border officials are having!
We will no doubt discover this as we zig zag our way south between the two countries over the next few weeks.
We made it to San Carlos de Bariloche after a 10 hour drive through incredible scenery. The journey passed quickly chatting and getting to know the other passengers as well as doing a bit of dozing. It’s also a good time to make some notes for this blog so that when we do get some of the intermittent internet or WiFi we can put it online.
Bariloche is the main town in the Argentinean lake district and it is lovely. It has a strong Swiss influence not only in the architecture but also in the numerous chocolate shops dotted around town. One of the larger shops is also a cafe and we stopped for a coffee and a brownie one morning. When the brownies came we both looked at them with open mouths. Not only did they contain several forms of chocolate but they were also topped with a layer of chocolate sauce and meringue, and were the size of small alpine cottage!! We were completely beaten by them, but the waitress put them in a bag for us to take out and we have now finished them 2 days later.
We hired mountain bikes for a couple of days while we were there and cycled 90 km around the area. The scenery was great and we spent most of the time on the roads which weren’t too busy at all. We did venture off road through the forest for about 15 km at one point and it was tough going but well worth it. On one day we did a 50 km route which was quite hilly so we took it nice and easy, stopping for drinks and photos. Steve’s injury seemed to hold up pretty well and the next morning he got up early and did the route again on his own. He came back with a smile on his face, after almost a month off the bike he was getting twitchy, so a hard bike in beautiful surroundings on a glorious sunny morning was just what he needed. The legs felt fine so he’s back on the bike and hopefully in another couple of weeks he’ll be back running.
We stayed in Bariloche for 3 nights of camping. We got there early in the evening and while we put up the tents, Nikki, the tour leader, went off to get some supplies. She came back with sausages and steaks and the barbecue was fired up. It was also the 18th birthday of our youngest member, Dylan, who is making the trip with his father Terry (Australian). The beers came out and the drinking games started. Steve, Andrin (Swiss) and Inkuu (Finnish) became the unbeaten champions of ‘beer ping-pong’ which meant Steve didn’t have to drink too much beer. This is very lucky, as anyone who knows him will know bad things can happen when he gets drunk!! Green pants, a very large bookcase and severe memory loss spring to mind….. but that’s another story! We escaped to bed at around midnight while some were stilling going until 3am.
Also while in Bariloche it was our first time to cook. We are in a cook group of five with Jan (Australian), Sophie (from New Zealand) and Andrin. We will probably have to cook for the group about once a week. We decided to cook bolognese pasta and we set off with Jan to the local supermarket. Nikki, the tour leader, had given us 2200 Argentinean pesos to buy food for dinner and breakfast. “Great”, Steve thought, “we will be eating like kings tonight” until Sarah reminded him that we were not in Chile and that we had to buy dinner and breakfast for 25 people with £45…ouch! Steve was put in charge of keeping track of the spending while Sarah and Jan decided on the ingredients as we made our way around the averagely stocked shelves. Three kilos of mince, four dozen eggs etc etc etc. We passed it through the till at the end to a grand total of 2215 pesos, an over-spend of 20 pence….bingo! We took the food back and were joined for the cooking by Andrin and after a discussion involving many words like “sauteed” and “reducing” we deceided to throw everything into two big pots, add a selection of herbs and spices, turn up the burners and hope for the best:-) At 7pm people started filtering back from their day out and we served up the meal with a bit of parmesan on top. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, many went back for seconds, and there was no waste for the camp bin. The following morning Sophie got up early and cooked scrambled eggs on toast for everyone! We then loaded up the truck and headed off for our next adventure!