. There is no sign of El Calafate in the distance and we are trundling along at a snails pace it seems. Oh well the joys of travelling! After picking up a bit of wifi in the bus station we have managed to pick up a flight to Buenos Aires. I had actually been looking forward to the 40 hour bus journey but by the time you add the very expensive fare back to Rio Gallagos (4 hours and counting for about £14 each), plus the waiting around at bus stations and us coming from El Chalten back here (add another 4 hours) it is only costing about £30 more to fly there in 3 hours from El Calafate. It feels like cheating a bit but we are trying to fit so much into our last few months when the option to fly is not much more expensive we may have to take it.
We finally arrived in El Calafate and took a taxi to the hostel, a complete luxury but guess what, the hostel was paying for it! The hostel is nice and our dorm only a four bed dorm so that isn't too bad. We had a good walk around town which isn’t too big, it is a town with very little except tourist places i.e. bars , restaurants and gift shops and oddly a huge, ugly casino as well.
We bought our pasta and tinned tomatoes for the night, Erica bought a bag of cakes and pastries as well. We sat on a bench in the middle of the street surrounded by restaurants eating some kind of cut price potato salad on bread, surround by all the stray dogs of the neighbourhood (at this point we felt like one ourselves watching everybody at lovely restaurants tucking in to great food
. At times like this in that type of almost ski resort place you wish you could afford to sit out in the cafes eating olives and pizzas drinking wine and small beers. Maybe we should try the trick that worked for the man in Mendoza when he swiped the leftovers off another man's plate. We investigated the cost of the trips we wanted to do and asked around the agencies trying to get the price knocked down. The trips do seem very, very expensive and with the price of hostels and busses also costing a lot more than we had hoped, we may need to trim her expectations of what she wants to do (perhaps the ice trekking will be crossed off the list. We headed back to the hostel, after sorting out a bit of stuff we finally cooked dinner of pasta with an 80p litre of red wine and headed to bed in our dorm. The hostel is very nice though great views of the Andes from its elevated position, we just wish we could afford to eat the eat as much as you can BBQ and the steaks that some people seem to be able to live on in Argentina.
We were woken up by the police check there seem to be so many down here at the moment. It was about 06:30 and after a passport check our mate next to us was still shouting "how long is this bus taking man, it was supposed to arrive 10 minutes ago". About 1.5 hours later we arrived in Rio Gallagos, a town with not much to offer, we therefore booked ourselves on the next bus to El Calafate supposed to be about a 3 or 4 hour bus journey away. The bus was due to leave at 9:15 and at about 9:25 it arrived. It pulled up and we queued to get our luggage on the bus, unfortunately there was no space for bags so to prevent us having the bags on the knees the whole way we threw them in the passenger seat next to the driver. As soon as we did this the bus doors shut and it drove off. We were a bit shocked to say the least, thankfully it had only gone to fill up with fuel and after about 20 minutes it returned to have yet more bags put anywhere they would go and we were all allowed to get on. As I write this section of the blog we have now been bus bound for the last 24 hours again, and Erica is asleep again, and I quite frankly would eat a very scabby donkey (although I think I did that in China)