El Gaucho Gordo

Trip Start Oct 29, 2003
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Trip End Ongoing


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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

From San Martin the posse moved south to Bariloche the main tourist town in the area. The bus - driven I think by Juan Fangio Jr - took us on unmade twisty ripio roads around the reknowned Seven Lakes Drive until we finally made it to Lake Nahuel Huapi with the town perched on the side.

Seeing as it was a new town for us we had to check out the quality of the steak in another meat frenzy. The hostel recommended El Boliche de Alberto and mighty fine it was too. My mouth is watering again just thinking about it. They hacked off the huge hunks of loin at the counter and then threw them on the grill - much to the delight of the two vegetarians amongst us but at least they enjoyed their salads.

Together with Ike, Mike and Jo I rented a car for the next day to take a more leisurely drive around the Seven Lakes. Once again the weather like totally co-operated dude (sorry I've been hanging out with Ike too much) and I spent the day driving along the unmade roads trying to avoid the potholes and sheep whilst enjoying the beautiful scenery. It seems that the area is quite popular with Germans and Swiss for some reason, maybe because it reminded them of home, but there are lots of alpine-style houses and many restaurants and hotels catering for our Tuetonic friends.

Surprisingly, there were also alot of Israelis. And I mean a lot. Iīve mentioned in the past that they are not the most friendly or likeable nationality to travel with - with the odd exception - and here they were no different. To add to the atmosphere it was also Passover so they were out in force and many of the hostels were crawling with them. We found a nice restaurant - a night off from steak - and found ourselves watching a television programme about the Heroes of the Malvinas i.e. the Falklands War. Today - April 2nd - also happened to be Malvinas Day and the 25th anniversary of the war. As Jo commented, perhaps today was the only day to pretend to be American. But nobody gave us any grief although in Buenos Aires there were demonstrations and renewed calls from the Argentine government to their sovereignty over our strategic sheep station. Tony Blair told them to bugger off.

(Oh and a happy 75th birthday to my mum - just kidding but just a test to see if she's reading  this!)

The next day, after visiting the Cerro Catedral high above the town, it was time to bid Ike and Jo farewell as they left to continue their adventures. Myself and Mike went out on the town and got talking to a local - she was half American and half Argentine - who ended up inviting us to her sister's ranch to go horseriding with the gauchos. We had a couple of days to spare so agreed to meet the next day. Unfortunately her brother-in-law the gaucho was off on a trip to corrall more horses so we didnīt get to go riding but we did visit the ranch and have a cook out with basically half a sheep staked out over the fire. It would have been so much better if the dogs hadn't stolen most of it when we weren't looking but it was still a great day. And I've been promised the proper gaucho experience if I ever come back.

I was also informed as to why the place is so popular with Germans and the Swiss. It seems they harboured a lot of Nazis following the war and are still very sympathetic towards them. Not surprisingly it's not mentioned in any of the guidebooks so maybe I should tell the Israelis.

After Mike left for Puerto Madryn I was on the road solo again such is the life of an intinerant wanderer. My plan is to head back to Chile and to take a four day boat trip from Puerto Montt and head south through the Patagonian Channels to Puerto Natales before winter closes in. It wasnīt too cold in Argentina but Iīve a feeling it will be getting a bit more Chile...
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