Mendoza, ArgentinaAfter I bought some shoes in Bariloche there wasn’t much else to hold my attention. The town is perched on the edge of a lake with mountains in the distance and most people visit the town for hiking, skiing and taking in the beautiful surroundings. I had just spent a month in Patagonia and [...]
After I bought some shoes in Bariloche there wasn’t much else to hold my attention. The town is perched on the edge of a lake with mountains in the distance and most people visit the town for hiking, skiing and taking in the beautiful surroundings. I had just spent a month in Patagonia and felt no need to spend time in mountains that weren’t quite as stunning as what I had already seen. It was time to go to Mendoza but how should I get there?
Traveling from town to town can get a bit monotonous after a while. You hop on a bus and some number of hours later your where you want to be. Before you get on the bus you know exactly what’s going to happen. Once in town you repeat the same routine and all cities begin to look the same. Find a place to stay, find the points of interest, find food, etc.
The romantic image of travel works for those on shorter trips or those who are jet-setting around the world. For those who decide to travel longer and not jump to four continents in the span of six months other aspects of travel must begin to hold your attention.
Recently I’ve been seeking alternative forms of transport and accommodation. In a country as developed as Argentina travel becomes easy and predictable. The buses are some of the best in the world and have amazing customer service. They offer pillows, seats with leg room (and some will recline to 180 degrees if you choose to pay extra) coffeetea and snacks for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and even games of BINGO with bottles of wine as the prize. Hostels also abound with the standards that you would expect but also with a price that is about twice as high as I’m used to paying. Looking to cut costs and add some interest into the normal travel routine Alan and I have been trying to hitch, camp, sleep in bus stations or take night night buses in an interest to add interest at fractional costs.
Back in Bariloche a late night conversation with an Argentine yielded positive news on the best location to stand in order to be picked up outside of Bariloche; 15 kilomters outside of town in Dina Huapi at the intersection of two roads and a gas station. He was right and within 15 minutes Alan and I were cruising seventy kilometers up the road. Off to a good start we were expecting to pull another ride quickly. Five hours had passed and we saw the sun set behind the mountains in the same location where the first truck dropped us; needless to say our quick ride expectations were not met. Instead of picking you up people just smile, wave, or take pictures of you standing on the side of the road.
The next morning yielded similar disappointments. The only non-disappointing aspect of the morning was the amazing sunrise over a nearby lake.
|From Bariloche to Mendoza 2011-03
With little results on the road we changed tactics and made a sign in order to hound people in a nearby gas station.
|From Bariloche to Mendoza 2011-03|
Alan shoving this sign in peoples faces and me saying ‘Norte! Norte! Norte!’ worked much better and we picked up a ride with two Spaniards. They weren’t going the exact direction we were headed but they were going 200 km north so we jumped in for the ride. Their plan for the day was to joy ride through the Seven Lakes Region of Argentina. While not on my initial plan of things to see it was a great side trip. Opportunities to talk with locals and side trips like this are why I decided to not take the bus in the first place so I viewed the day as a success.
200 km up the road they dropped us off at San Martin and took our first look at just how far we had come in the past two days. Let’s just say it wasn’t far enough and at this pace we would make it to Mendoza in a week or a week and a half. Abandoning hope on a free ride we plunked down the 360 pesos for the bus to Mendoza (the same amount it would have cost from Bariloche!). While not dangerous, hitching in Argentina is too difficult and too time consuming for it to be a feasible option for me. When I want to to somewhere I want to go. Not stand by a road for two weeks to make it there. I think I’ll just stick to the cozy buses from now on.