Ah Malargue! Never have I been in such a slow town. I would say dull but that wouldn't be nice as I ended up having so much fun. The first day there we met a girl from Holland, Melanie, and spent the day arranging expeditions to nearby parks. While we were sitting in the office of Travun Expeditions (highly reccomended) a guy, Aaron, we had met while waiting for the damn bus after river rafting showed up with a girl he had met, Anna
. Funny to see them in such a tiny town. That night we went grocery shopping and Aaron and Anna cooked up (in three hours...) the most delicious pasta and grilled veggies. after so much beef i was in heaven. The six of us went through five bottles of wine and three liters of beer by 11 pm and had to go get mrecommended, an Argentinean from Mendoza, and I went to a nearby store (which was closed but where Marcos pleaded with them to open up and let us buy more wine). The stuff is so cheap! I bought three bottles of really good wine for a total of $7 US dollars. By this time two others had shown up at the hostel. We all had a brilliant time just hanging out and at 3am we all went to the Malargue´s one discotheque. It was pretty cheesy. We ended up staying up until 6am, at which time the birds were singing and the sun was up. Ah.
Next morning we were woken up at noon by our tour guide, Flavio. He was this fantastically content Argentinean from Malargue who just recently had a little girl with his wife from Chicago. We were taken in a large land rover to a beautiful park with a refreshing river. Aaron, Anna, Marcos, and Carson and I went. Aaron serenaded us with such songs as "la bamba" and other beauties. At the park we sat for a long time just skipping stones and putting our feet in the river before we took the coolest suspension foot bridge to hike up the nearby cliffs. After a dangerously slippery climb we were rewarded with a most amazing view of the river below and the Andes mountains in the distance. Marcos and I had fun just tossing rocks off the top in the incredibly strong wind and watching them fall it the opposite direction. It was so strong that we had to lie down to do so! Afterwards we drank water in the cool shade of the trees below. It was a wonderful day which finished up with Pirates of the Caribbean in the hostel.
The next morning we were up at 7 to head off to the Caverna de Las Brujas, a cave in the middle of nowhere
. The name literally means Cave of the Witches. It was the most climbing/ crawling I have ever had to do on a cave expedition and so I had a blast. ..I love that stuff. Unfortunately we were stuck with the biggest asshole for a tour guide (Flavio couldn't find others for that day) but after the cave he was successfully avoided. Next we raced (did you know you could go 90K per hour on a dirt road?) to the Laguna Llancancelo (the last bus out of Malargue was leaving at 5pm). This Laguna was almost indescribable. The lake and the land were on the same plane (which i have never before seen. all water i have seen has the land sloping down to it) in this huge vast emptiness with mountains and volcanoes around it. The wind was howling and there were many flocks of birds. It was really incredible and my pictures do not do it justice. On the way back we found a small pond with many flamingos in it! I was so excited as I have never seen them outside of the zoo. After that we flew back to Malargue but our bus had left the terminal already. Flavio raced to the main plaza and were were able to catch the bus there by only a couple of minutes. A bunch of us were on the first leg together but at San Rafael we had to say goodbye to a couple of people, including Marcos who I had made friends with and had talked a lot to. It was very good practice for the both of us as he speaks not a lot of English and I speak hardly any Spanish. Challenging. I told him we were playing charades. From San Rafael we boarded an overnight bus to Bariloche. In all our trip took 21 hours of which I think I slept about 17 of them. Thank god for sleeping pills!
The morning of the 9th Carson and I headed to San Rafael with every intention of using it as a base for exploring the beautiful Laguna Diamente. Although we found good chicken sandwiches and stayed in our first beautiful hotel we did not find anything about the lake so early the next morning we headed to Malargue. This turned out to be a good decision as we found out later recommendedave had so much snow this year that it is still closed.