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Next Steps and Wet Feet

Bariloche, ArgentinaThud…Thud…Thud. The rain clouds have yet to finish dumping rain in La Junta and a pool of collected rain water continues to drip against the corrugated metal roof above me. The consistency of the drip keeps me awake and in the sleepless midnight hour thoughts of my next steps begin to clutter my mind. [...]

Bariloche, Argentina


The rain clouds have yet to finish dumping rain in La Junta and a pool of collected rain water continues to drip against the corrugated metal roof above me. The consistency of the drip keeps me awake and in the sleepless midnight hour thoughts of my next steps begin to clutter my mind. Not my next steps in Chile or Argentina or further north in Bolivia or Peru but my next steps. Where will I be after South America? What will I be doing? Money will eventually run out and as much as I dread the thought of it; work is an inevitability.

After seven months of travel I have yet to have any great desire to return to the states. Instead, alternative work options fill my head. Should I teach English? Possibly in South Korea? Should I get my dive master and get paid to dive? Should I stay in Central or South America and find something here?

While not in the near future I can now see my current travels ending and my brain needs to start percolating some possible future plans that I will need to act upon.

As the hour begins to pass so do my thoughts as they slowly become muddled as new downpour of rain begins and I am consumed by unconsciousness…

…At 5:00 am I’m awoken by the same deluge of rain that I fell asleep to four hours ago. Alan is up and has a fresh pot of coffee waiting. Neither of us take any sadistic pleasure out of awaking so early but if we want out of Chile the first step is the Monday, 6:00 am bus out of the backwoods town of La Junta, Chile.

At quarter till six we were out the door once again being pelted by rain. The two days I spent trying to dry my shoes was in vain. From La Junta to Villa Santa Lucia to the six hours spent in a restaurant waiting for a bus to Futaleufu to the Argentine border and finally to Esquel my feet were in the state that they had become all too familiar with recently; wet, cold and prune-y.

My Five Finger Treks have finally threw up the white flag. They have sloshed through mud, rivers, oceans, wet sand, caves, dog crap, cow manure and who knows what other foul organic excretions. They have been there with me on chicken buses, airport security clearances, volcano rocks, mountain tops, city streets but in the end they’re giving me swampy feet. The foot bed is torn to pieces, the leather is brittle, the tread is gone, there is a large hole in the top of the left shoe (tried drying them on a rock that was just a little too hot in Cerro Castillo) and worst of all they soak up water worse than saltine crackers and have a smell that makes the spray of skunks seem like perfume. As much as I don’t want to admit it…I need new shoes.

My shoes aside, fifteen hours after departing La Junta I was in Esquel trying to get one final bus of the day to Bariloche at 9:00 pm but was out of luck. No buses left until the next morning. The hostels nearby were full and the only place with a free bed was seven blocks away. Neither Alan or I felt the seven block walk in the rain was worth the bed and opted instead to stay in the bus station until it closed and then park ourselves next to the building until it opened again the next morning.

Joining us in the bus station and potentially in a night outside were six Israeli’s and two vagabonding Argentinians and their dog. Good fortune shined down upon us as what could have been a potentially cold night was averted by the generous night guard who let the group of us crash in the terminal for the night after it had closed.

1:15 am – Lights out
5:30 am – Rise and shine
8:30 am – Our bus north to hopefully warmer weather.
1:00 pm – Arrival in Bariloche. It’s further north. It’s sunny. But it’s not much warmer.

From Bariloche to Mendoza 2011-03
Bedding down in the Esquel bus station for the night.

My Need for New Shoes Continued

Now in Bariloche my number one priority is to suck it up and buy a pair of shoes. My criteria is fairly simple; they needed to be able to stand up to constant abuse and be waterproof or highly water resistant. Luckily, Bariloche is a regional hub for all things outdoors and if a store isn’t selling chocolates or knitted goods they are trying to sell you outdoor apparel. I spent the afternoon searching through the shops and found a reasonably priced pair of shoes that met my criteria.

Today was the first time I’ve put on a normal pair of shoes for seven months and they felt incredibly awkward. My feet feel constricted and I can’t feel the ground. I’ve temporarily forgotten how to walk in shoes and it looks (and feels) like I have two boards strapped to my feet. I hate them already. The only thing I hate more are wet, cold feet and clearing a room when I take off my shoes.

From Bariloche to Mendoza 2011-03
Out with the old and in with the new.


Filed under: Argentina, Cubicle Ditcher

About the Author:

Sam Langley left a comfortable and profitable job with an insurance company in the USA to travel the world. He has been going for years, and has not stopped yet. Keep up with his travels on his blog at Cubicle Ditcher. has written 147 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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  • Anonymous March 23, 2011, 10:12 am

    sounds like you're getting the same weather there that we are here.

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  • Anonymous March 23, 2011, 5:21 pm

    If you were asking my advice, I would say don't come back to the States until you have truly had your fill of travel. I did that between my trips, and it was a mistake. Better to stay until you are done.
    Uncle D

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  • Sam March 24, 2011, 4:45 am

    Thanks for the advice Uncle D. While writing this I wondered what you might suggest since I knew you came back to the States for a while between trips. I might as well keep the inertia of travel going until something stops it.

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