4/01/01: Buenos Aires: Time to hit the pause button on the Wanderboys world tour. After spending the afternoon at the Delta attempting to wakeboard with Aurelia and her friend Mariana, we ran into a little trouble with the law. With Carlos at the wheel of Aurelia's car, we were pulled over on the highway returning to Buenos Aires. Staying at Aurelia's apartment, we had gotten acustomed to leaving our travel documents safely at home. This turned out to be very unfortunate. Fluent in Spanish, having worked at a Law Firm in Buenos Aires, and with a wealth of experience at talking our way out of things, Carlos assured us all was well. This confidence was ultimately his demise as we watched him get handcuffed and taken away. Aurelia and Scott were quickly assured that all we had to do was pick up his passport and international driver's licence, show them at the police station, and Carlos would be released. Not so easy. Being late in the day on a Sunday and with Monday a national holiday for the Falkland Islands War, the administration office to handle such matters would not be open until Tuesday. So here I sit, killing time updating the website, only wondering what stories we will have for you all when I bail my Wanderfriend out tomorrow.
4/02/01: Buenos Aires: A coin flip the evening before had decided which one of the Wanderboys would have to spend some time in the slammer as part of our April Fool's joke for the journal. We went to an internet cafe to update our website and spin a tall tale about Carlos and the law. Nothing of much consequence transpired as we ordered in a pizza for dinner and packed to go to the glaciers tomorrow.
4/03/01: Buenos Aires - El Calafate: On the road again. Getting used to the weight of our packs on our back again, we flew off to El Calafate for the beginning of our Glacier Park and Lake District journey in Patagonia and Chile. After gathering info on the different tours of the Glaciers upon arrival, we headed to our rustic cabbin with a view of the lake and surrounding mountains. A hacky session on our lawn and dinner in town concluded the day.
4/04/01: El Calafate: Out of character, we woke up an hour and a half earlier than was necessary to go see the Perito Moreno Glacier. Once there we boarded a boat which took us within 100m of the advancing Glacier where we Oooooed and Ahhhhhhed as massive pieces broke off and plunged into the lake. We were not immune to the photograph and videotape frenzy, as we burned more videotape here than we have in many countries combined. After the boat we proceeded to the catwalks with more awe inspiring views of the impressive Glacier and the cracking and falling icebegs it let loose on the lake. Reluctantly, we headed back into town, booked our next trip and bought groceries. We bumped into Sandra, Aurelia's friend, and we invited her to our cabin for a scrumptuous feast of overcooked tortelini served with the same spatula Carlos had just killed a few flies with and some wine. MMM, yum...
4/05/01: El Calafate: Waking up again in the pitch blackness of morning we took a bus to another boat ride. This was an all day boat ride that would take us to two more nearby glaciers and for lunch and a small hike in the middle of the day. The hike was to a lake with a view of more glaciers where Carlos and Scott entertained the audience of glacier watchers while trying to knock a protruding ice-piece off an iceberg. Not sure if we were disturbing nature, we felt more assured when another man joined us. The highlight of the afternoon was the viewing of the Upsala Glacier where we navigated the boat through a large iceberg field before returning to port. A pizza dinner back in town ended another splendid day.
4/06/01: El Calafate - Torres del Paine: Early rising again, and off to Chile. After a few hours of bussing through the sparse Patagonian landscape and being disinfected for Foot and Mouth Disease at the Chilean border we arrived at the very windy Puerto Natales. A few hours of walking and asking questions and not getting many answeres led us to rent a car and drive out into the unknown. Our 4-wheel drive, power steering, automatic, sun roof, sport package Toyota Tercell handled the unpaved roads with ease and grace. The extras came in handy as we decided whether to cross into the sandstorm which had just blown over a truck ahead of us. Arriving in Torres del Paine National Park, we passed some heards of Lamas, beautiful lakes, mountains and found lodging at the Posada Rio Serrano.
4/07/01: Torres del Paine: If we had any trouble waking up this morning it was quickly taken care of when we showered in our freezing cold glaciar water. With the park gradually shutting down for the season in about a week we did not have many options but to drive around and hike. With awesome views and surrounded by the wonders of nature, including giant rabbits, we were perfectly happy with our 3 short hikes and lunch by a picturesque river. We returned to our frigid posada, played cards in the hallway around a liquid gas heater hoping we would not blow up, and swallowed down our salty porkchops before bed.
4/08/01: Torres del Paine: It was a postcard day, not a cloud in the sky and amazing scenery. Let's go Fishing. We borrowed a fishing pole and tackle from a park ranger and headed over to Rio Serrano. The fish were not cooperating, but the weather was, so that did not matter much. We trampled all over that river, had a picnic lunch and played hacky. As the sun was going down we moved to Lago del Toro, and voila, a huge 50lb samon trout. We let him go and had an early dinner and early bed in our fridgid hotel. We must point out our hotel and most park activities were due to close in a week as the season here is turning Artic.
4/09/01: Torres del Paine - Punta Arenas: We were on the road back to Puerto Natales at 5:30am in order to get Aurelia, who had joined us for a week, on her bus back to El Calafate. We made it into town in time, bid farewell to Aurelia, grabbed an unexpected buffet breakfast, and turned back in our rental car. It is safe to say that we all have a new appreciation for Toyota Tercells. We took that car where it did not belong and it performed well beyond our dreams. Our original plan called for a 4 day ferry ride through the Fyords of the Chilean coast but 2 fires on board the week before changed all that. Instead we found ourselves on a 3 hour bus ride south to Punta Arenas, on the Strait of Magellan, otherwise known as the End of the World. Initially very bummed that we were missing our ferry ride, our spirits were lifted with the prospects of viewing a nearby penguin colony. We arrived at our destination to find lodging and food while experiencing first hand the climatic reasons why early colonization of the area failed.
4/10/01: Punta Arenas: "The Penguins are Closed." After asking our 3rd tourism agency we finally accepted that it had gotten too cold for the penguins, they had moved on, and the sanctuary was closed. This left us with nothing to do in a very cold place. We bought plane tickets out of there for the next day and walked around town. From the lookout point we looked out over the Magellan Strait and felt sorry for him, freezing his butt off a few hundred years ago. For the evening entertainment we opted for watching Castaway the night before getting on a plane and were not comforted by the notion that if our plane went down we would freeze in a matter of hours.... good thing we did not go see Alive.
4/11/01: Punta Arenas - Puerto Montt: Happy to be flying north, we arrived in Puerto Montt and checked into our funhouse of a hotel where each floor actually contained rooms on 4 different levels. We walked around town and enjoyed delicious Lomito sandwiches for lunch. The night activities began with some liars dice where the third player was our beer pitcher "Wilson" with a smiley face drawn in the frost. (This will be much more amusing for those of you that have seen Castaway) The name of the establishment was the OK Corral where we surprisingly met some fellow Americans. A little dancing down the coast ended the night.
4/12/01: Puerto Montt: We did just about nothing today, if you want to skip forward to tomorrow we would not be upset. If you are bored enough to read on, then here is what we did: walked to the bus station, played hacky, watched a few movies on HBO, had dinner, went back to the OK Corral, met up with more Americans, and went dancing again.
4/13/01: Puerto Montt: If you thought yesterday was boring we got news for you. We were once again allured to the prospect of penguin viewing but unfortunately got too late of a start. In the end, we took a 2 hour bus ride to another town on an island for dinner and bussed back for 2 hours when we missed the penguin tour by 20 minutes. Not our finest hour.
4/14/01: Puerto Montt - Puerto Varas: On the move again. We took a local bus to the quaint lake port of Puerto Varas. We checked into Hotel el Greco and had a great pizza for lunch. For dinner we more than satisfied our craving for Mexican food at Pim's with some great enchiladas and Mexican beer. For the evening entertainment we finally stopped at Kamikazi but had a relatively early night.
4/15/01: Puerto Varas - Petrohue: We boarder our mini bus around Lago LLanquihue to Petrohue on Lago Todos los Santos. Our only options for lodging were a hospedaje and a very nice hotel. We contracted a small boat to cross a section of the lake and inquire about the hospedaje, only to contract the same boat back across minutes later. Not particulairly excited about living in the family's dinig room with a few sheets of plywood around us, we opted for the spectacular Hotel Petrohue nestled at the base of the Volcan Osorno. For exercise we did a short hike around the lake, hackied amongst some volcanic rocks, and hiked downriver to a picturesque waterfall. We had dinnner back at the hotel where we met our Washington friends Bill and Molly. The conversation continued fireside in the sitting room where we enjoyed a bottle of wine and a failed attempt to learn how to play dominoes.
4/16/01: Petrohue - Peulla: We woke up to a picture perfect day, in our picture perfect hotel and took a picture of it all. At 11AM we boarded our ferry for our ride to Peulla on the other end of Lago Todos los Santos. Upon arrival we checked into another grand hotel, our only option, and inquired around about a hike our book mentioned. Molly, Bill, and the Wanderboys took on and conquered a 3,000 ft straight up hike/climb to an amazing little lagoon with a view of Monte Tronador, the border with Argentina. After each of us bit it on the way down, the hotel staff did not believe we had done the hike, until we provided photographic evidence with our digital camera. A leisurely 4 course dinner in the dining room, complete with chocolate mousse rounded out a perfect day of "Roughing It" in the Andes.
4/17/01: Peulla - Bariloche: We woke up a little sore, feasted on a wonderful buffet breakfast, bid farewell tou our friends Bill and Molly, threw in a quick hike to a nearby waterfall, and boarded our bus to Puerto Frias where we met our Brazilian friend Alesandra and enetered Argentina for the third time. Holy sentence. Once again blessed with wonderful weather, we ferried across Lago Frias to Puerto Alegre after a valiant rescue mission by Carlos of our hacky sack from an eager puppy. Taking the more scenic route we hiked around a bay of Lago Nahuel Huapi to the Cantaros waterfall and lake while everyone else took a ferry. We basked in the sun for a bit and headed for the boat once our peaceful sanctuary was invaded by the ferry load of people. A ferry ride and bus to Bariloche completed our memorable lake journey across the Andes. A dinner of empanadas and a game of casino with Alesandra finished off the night.
4/18/01: Bariloche: Laundry day once again. Since everything needed to be cleaned, this left us walking around cold and windy Bariloche in shorts and tevas. We retreated to an internet cfe to update the website and escape the cold. After picking up our clothes we ate at the empanada place once again and met Alessandra and her German friends for a drink at a pub before calling it a night.
4/19/01: Bariloche: "The fish are closed". On a fact finding mission most of the day, we realized the fishing season inside the park had just ended. Determined to fish, we placed a few phone calls to find out that the fishing season lasted until May 31st in Junin de los Andes. We took a walk along the waterfront to the bus station to find out the bus schedule to the so called trout capital. For dinner, the Lonely Planet came up big with a fine recommendation where we gorged ourselves on Milanesa Napolitana. We met Alessandra for a bottle of wine and called it a night.
4/20/01: Bariloche: A cold but sunny day presented the perfect opportunity to do some mountain biking. We rented 2 mountain bikes and after a few directions from the guy at the shop we headed off for another one of the Wanderboys grueling mountain ascents. Cerro Otto and the gondola above Bariloche was our destination, and 3 hours of winding up the mountain reminded us why this is not an around the world for a year on a bike tour. The views at the windy top were amazing and we each feasted on a prepackaged salad, a banana, and water, very healthy. The ride down was an experience in and of itself as we opted for the technical descent along the narrow steep path. We never took our hands off both brakes the whole way down. Once back at the shop a high five was in order for an injury free day. For the evening we had expensive but good Mexican food and went dancing at a disco.
4/21/01: Bariloche - San Martin de Los Andes: With a late night at the disco it was a late morning or rather early afternoon for our awakening. We had lunch and updated the website before heading to the bus station for our bus to San Martin de Los Andes. A bumpy rainy, even briefly snowy bus trip, dropped us at another attractive lakeside town. We checked into our hotel and enjoyed a tasty pizza dinner befor heading to the Zoo disco. A place where everyone seemed to know each other, we quickly realized why when after numerous pool matches we felt like locals. A very friendly place.
4/22/01: San Martin de Los Andes - Junin de Los Andes: The shutters on our hotel window produced a cave-like effect and what we thought was 6am was really 12:30 and checkout was at 10am. We quickly got out of there and walked towards the lake in the rain. We had lunch by the water and found a bus leaving for Junin de Los Andes at 4:15. A short hour drive deposited us in Junin and we opted for renting a cabin for our three days of fishing. We rented a quaint two story cabin boardering a river, with all the amenities for $50 a day. We were given a ride back into town where we bought enough food for all our meals and to our surprise cooked a fine meal for dinner.
4/23/01: Junin de Los Andes: After our breakfast of scrambled eggs we walked into town to rent some fishing gear only to find out there was none to rent. Unfazed we were soon equipped with rod, reel, lures, and fishing permits for only $60 each. The afternoon was spent fishing on the Rio Chimehuin with little success except for a ham and cheese sandwich lunch in a beautiful location. We headed back up river to our cabin and to try the nearby fishing holes. Carlos saved the day by pulling in a monster trout to rival his Chilean log fish and we celebrated over another delicious pasta dinner by a fire.
4/24/01: Junin de Los Andes: Up bright and early to go fishing, we found out that in Junin de Los Andes, the early bird gets frozen. With frost on the ground, on our rods and our hands we headed up river for a morning session. Scott ended his drought with a nice trout and we headed in for breakfast. With a 2km walk into town and no car or public transport we hiked in to run some errands. Then we hiked back for lunch and walked down the highway to another fishing spot. The scenery was grand and we were inspired to do some hiking around the river which included fording a stream and a near encounter with a full grown buck. Scott also caught a huge trout to add to our impressive quality of fish caught if not quantity. Racing against darkness and a slight bit lost in the wilderness we double timed it along the river and found ourselves home before dark. Another one of our Julia Child sessions in the kitchen taught us exactly what a $1 bottle of wine tastes like.
4/25/01: Junin de Los Andes - Mar del Plata: We woke up and prepared for our departure from our homey cabin, but not before Scott pulled in one more large trout in a final fishing session. We left the mountains in search of warmer weather in Mar del Plata on the Atlantic coast. The 19 hour bus ride was made easier by the fact that we were on an Executive Luxury bus where we were offered champagne.
4/26/01: Mar del Plata: Arriving around 10am in Mar del Plata we walked around town and checked into a hotel. After some TV, we ventured out for our worst meal of the trip. "You get what you pay for," our 4 empanadas and a soda for $3.00 left us wondering if we would live to travel another day. We decided to update the website and then caught the movie Traffic, where we learned, contrary to our experience, Mexico is full of corrupt drug dealers. After dinner at the popular Manolo we visited a local pub for some pool playing and a friendly conversation with our barman Domingo.
4/27/01: Mar del Plata: For breakfast/lunch we basked in relatively warm weather at a waterfront restaurant that offered hearty portions for economical prices. The hacky session on the beach was the only significant activity of the day before Aurelia's arrival that evening and another dinner at Manolo. The rest of the night was spent at a disco where Scott learned that not being fluent has its advantages and Carlos was harrased by drunken mariachis.
4/28/01: Mar del Plata: A late night meant no breakfast and straight into lunch. We returned to our previous day's lunch spot and took a scenic drive along the coast. Aside from stopping to watch some pro surfers tackling the pounding surf, the highlight was a colony of sea lions basking in the port near a ship graveyard. The smell was unbearable. After an afternoon nap we sough out a chinese restaurant and satisfied our urge for something different.
4/29/01: Mar del Plata - Buenos Aires: Except for a slight adventure jumpstarting Aurelia's car, it was an uninspiring day as we drove back to Buenos Aires. A more entertaining subject would be the lengths of our hair due to the fact that we have not gotten hair cuts in almost 2 months. Scott would like to poll the audience: buzz it, mohawk, let it grow, etc... post your votes on the message board. P.S. Mom and Dad, bring us 2 Double Doubles, one with grilled onions, when we meet in London.
4/30/01: Buenos Aires: Preparing for our European travels, we bought 2 Eurail passes at Asatej. For lunch we ate at Dona Pepa in Recoleta and updated the website. Later that evening we ordered some pizza to be delivered and headed out with Aurelia for some drinks and dancing at the Shamrock.