San Martin de los Andes & San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina — October, 2014
Desperate to wash the taste of Pucón out of our mouths, a friend and I couchsurf through southern Argentina and I have the best two days of my South American adventure.
After having a pretty miserable time in Pucón, we ended up leaving early. The family we were staying with seemed to understand and didn’t hold it against us. In fact, they were upset that we made too much noise that last night when we were doing our laundry. After a short walk to the bus station we were finally on our way out of Pucón.
My friend had an open schedule and I didn’t have any work arranged for another week so we decided to cross the border into Argentina. He wanted to explore much of the area, while I had less time and wanted to see Patagonia before I left. We settled on two towns at the north end of Patagonia: San Martin de los Andes and San Carlos de Bariloche. Like Pucón, they were picturesque locales that tourists flock to, but our hosts seemed good and we were excited.
The bus ride was moderately short considering we were going over the Andes and crossing an international border, though the border control checkpoints for Chile and Argentina were arbitrarily separated by several miles, requiring two extended stops ten minutes apart. This gave us more time to see the Andes at the border, a trade I was happy to take. The views of the snowcapped mountains around the border were often majestic and are not something I’ll soon forget.
When we arrived at the bus station in San Martin, we began to look for the girl we had arranged to stay with via couchsurfing. This was interesting, as she was holding a coffee cup in front of her face in her couchsurfing profile picture and you couldn’t see anything below her eyes. (Free Advice: You have wonderful and mysterious eyes darling, and you’ll save everyone a lot of trouble if you show your face) We didn’t see her so we went outside to see the lake for a bit. Beautiful.
After returning, we met Seba, a big and jovial Argentine who would be one of our hosts. We also ran into a French couple who would be staying with us in his apartment (and we had seen twice in the previous two days already), as well as a lone Frenchman with no previous coordination who just showed up and ended up staying there too… after asking nicely.
Seba then drove us all to the grocery store to buy supplies for pizza. We grabbed a ton of ingredients to make the crusts and sauce from scratch. Plus some beer. A lot of beer. It was at this point that we figured out how many people would be there that night: 11. In a two bedroom apartment. The first time that I looked at our ridiculous pyramid of beer bottles, I thought “There’s no f–king way we drink all this,” even though there were 11 of us and it was a party night. On the other hand, it really didn’t look like we bought all that much dough.
After shopping, we went on a tour of the city. More specifically, Seba’s roommate took us to the top of the steepest, highest mountain in town, where we enjoyed a view of the lake and the city below. It was fairly tiring but a great way to see the area and stretch our legs after spending the morning on a cramped bus. We probably walked for a total of three hours before heading to the apartment, tired and hungry.
We then ate, and drank, and had conversations in horribly broken Spanish and English for several hours. Most of us were complete strangers, but the night still had the nostalgic feeling of seeing old friends. It was magical.
After party full of great food and great people, we retired to bed for the night. With new pajamas! Seba & friends gave us custom t-shirts when we arrived.
Two renters stayed in one bedroom, with a third renter sleeping on the floor in the living room next to the couch shared by a French couple. There was another French dame there who slept on the floor in either in the kitchen or living room. I was in the second bedroom, sharing a small bed with the Spanish dude I was traveling with, with a Frenchman on the floor next to us. Sharing the bed was good and fine, but we didn’t have a blanket and he liked the window open so I ended up fighting for the sheet by cuddling up a bit more than I had planned on. Whatevs. Numbers 10 and 11 went to an apartment across town after the party ended.
The next morning, we woke up to a breakfast of unused pizza dough. The pyramid of beer was completely gone somehow (I don’t drink and another had work, leading to nine people drinking a Friday-night-frat-house worth of beer), but we used maybe two-thirds of the dough we bought.
After this breakfast, myself and my Spanish friend set out for the second part of our couchsurfing adventure. But that is another story and shall be told another time.