Saturday, May 3, 2008

Catching our breath

Sorry we've gone so long without updating; we've been on the move so frequently that there hasn't been time. And we haven't had much internet access either.

Right now we're in Puerto Iguazu, a little town built around the tourist attraction of Iguazu Falls. We just arrived this morning; tomorrow we'll check out the falls (which are supposed to be bigger than Niagara).

Quick recap of what we've been up to: After El Chaltan, we took two consecutive 12-hour day buses to El Bolson. We spent a few days there, then just one night in Bariloche. From there we went to Mendoza and spent a week. After that, one night in Salta, then we rented a car and drove a 1200km loop over the course of 4 days. Obviously, we have a lot to catch up on.

Starting with El Bolson. Most people heading north from El Chaltan opt to go directly to Bariloche, a town that's famous for its chocolate and its supposed similarity to a Swiss village. But we'd read and heard good things about El Bolson (supposedly a laid-back hippie town with good trekking), so we got off the bus a few hours earlier than most of the rest of the passengers.

The town lived up to the hippie hype, and the weather was great to boot.

It wasn't quite as otherworldly as El Chaltan, but Bolson was plenty scenic in its own right.

We did one short-medium hike while we were in town, up to the "indian head." See if you can spot it.

View from the way down.

This was one of our favorite hostels so far. It's not unlike the Inn at Crippen Creek Farm, with a big great room on the main floor and much better kitchen facilities than you usually find.

El Bolson is part of Argentina's Lake District, so on our second day in town we rented mountain bikes and rode up to one of the lakes with Angela (pictured foreground), a woman we befriended at the hostel.

I'd like to say that we sat down to this after the ride, but it was some time later. Hot chocolate and Churros Rellenos (with dulce de leche, of course).

Awwww, poor Ash! Wait a minute....

The town reminded us a bit of Eugene... people relaxing in the park, a little market with lots of arts and crafts, plenty of Argentine hippies...

The things I try just so I can post about it here... this is a damn waffle with salami and cheese on it. It actually wasn't too bad.

Finally, onto Bariloche. When we arrived it was incredibly windy. The first thing we did (after booking a room) was walk down to the lake and check it out. We were surprised to find ocean-sized waves and whitecaps.

That thur's a real big tree hurrrrrrrrr? Seriously I have no idea why I'm posting this.

On our only full day in Bariloche, we hiked up to the refugio at Cerro Lopez. It was really steep, and the weather wasn't that great, but we were prepared. I'm pictured here with my cougar-smashing rock.

We still got some nice views along the way, even though it was cloudy.

Nothing hits the spot after a difficult hike like 8 beers. The sampler at Antares brewpub.

Liz basks in the afterglow of a downed pint and a bowl of peanuts.

When the mannequins don't have dog or tiger heads, they have this.

We finally broke down and went to a Mexican restaurant in Bariloche that had gotten good reviews. It was great; they even had homemade salsa and heaps of guacamole. But no chips.

The town mascot... one of those dogs with a bottle of booze around its neck. This one had a puppy sleeping on its back, but the owner was charging for pictures. This was the best we could get gratis.

There we go.

Finally, on our way to Mendoza.

On the bus we played Spanish bingo for a bottle of wine. So close!

Mendoza. Here's the park bench where Liz narrowly averted a scam designed to steal one of our bags.

More later! We have a billion pictures to catch up on, but we should have some down time in Buenos Aires.

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