Thursday, December 20, 2012

Patagonia: It punishes.

"La Patigonia. Se castiga." (The Patagonia. It punishes.) 

These words were uttered by the Bariloche wine vendor across the street from where we are staying. He was referencing the weather, but his ominous words seemed to imply more than just the wind and rain. Or at least that's how Zack and I were feeling after our first couple days in Argentina.

Watch removal injuries
There is no elegant way to put it. We got mugged in Buenos Aires. Well, Zack got mugged. I stood there yelling, not knowing what to do.  Two guys came up behind and grabbed him, ripped the watch off his wrist, and ran away. Thankfully neither of us were hurt, just shaken up.  If problems signify adventure, then ours is to be a big one. 

We did our best to enjoy the next two days in Buenos Aires, but it was hard to shake the cloud hanging over us. Exploring the city was near impossible, since we weren't to inclined to walk very far at any given time. So we hardly went more than a few blocks from the hotel. Thank goodness the hotel was in the heart of Palermo, a great neighborhood with food, art, and shops. Including a great book store. Borges, anyone? 

Despite our funk -symbolized by the crummy weather nearly the whole time we were in B.A.- we did enjoy some really wonderful meals. A brunch a restaurant called AiPim, featured breakfast staples made fancy. Who knew yogurt could be that good? The poached egg, with bacon, and mashed potatoes, was a pleasure, combining my most favorite flavors. Potatoes, runny egg yolk, and BACON. Also we went to a classic Argentine steak house, LO DE JESUS, where the beef was incredible. Even the Texas cowboy Zack thought so.

We did make it to the art museum, that featured a very impressive lineup of artists. Monet, Goya, and even Van Gough were featured heavily. I also loved hearing the soft Argentine accent, and speaking with people who exclusively spoke in Spanish, rather than slipping in Guarani and then being confused as to why I don't understand them.

Hotel L'Palermo, BA
Nonetheless, we were so glad to get to Bariloche, where we are now. Ridding ourselves of the bad vibes in Buenos Aires was much needed. We checked into the apartment we are renting, and began to feel better. It's almost ridiculous how much space we have. The hotel in B.A. was great, but small. Here, we have two bedrooms, a full kitchen, two baths and a balcony. We have made ourselves at home, and have gear and stuff in nearly every corner of the place.

We took the first few days to rest, and stock up on food and information about climbing in the area. The best spot for climbing has a 5 hour hike in, but we were told there were some more accessible day trips to nearby walls too. So yesterday we packed up our bags for one of the local crags looking to shake hands with some rock. Enter adventure number two. 

We missed the bus we wanted so, we ended up taking another bus that got us within 3 kilometers of the head to of the trail and walked from there. Once at the trail head, Zack instantly slips into a creek getting his feet soaked. Oh, and did I mention it was raining. Then we wandered for three hours on what should have been a 20 minute approach because of poorly marked trails, and shitty guide book directions. We each have near 40 pounds of gear on our back. Then we get to the base of the rock we were hoping to climb. The guide book implied there would be a bit of a scramble to where the routes start, but what we found a pile of wet choss*, and a vertical climb to the base of the routes. I did my best to billy goat around, finding a safe way up, but after almost slipping off the wall, I gave a resounding "Fuck this," and we retreated. By the time we got back to the trails leading to the other walls we didn't have enough to finish the approaches, fit a climb in and get back in time to catch the bus 3k away. So we hiked around a little more trying to make the most of it, and then headed out. To be fair the scenery was beautiful, and I couldn't beat the company. 

Finally the gods smiled on us. About a half kilometer up the road to the bus stop, a lovely couple on their honeymoon pick us up in their car and take us to the bus stop. We got to the stop early enough to grab a much needed beer and a piece of pie, before heading back to Bariloche and calling it a night. 

Today, we woke up late and got a few routes in this afternoon at a crag near town. But missed the bus back to town, because it didn't run. Adventure number 3. None of the buses are running. It seems a small riot has broken out on the out skirts of town. So another friendly Argentine let us hitch a ride back to town. Don't worry, the violence is nowhere near where we are staying, but it does seem fitting for the trip thus far.

I will say the terrain is beautiful, and I'm so glad to be hear. I really just wish we could catch a break. So here's to hoping that we have done our penance to the Patagonian Gods and can have smooth sailing from hear on out. 

*CHOSS: Loose shitty rock that nobody likes.