A month in Argentina

I’m back at the border hanging around and waiting to cross back into Chile. There’s a storm rolling in off the mountains and over the lake, and I feel cozy in Savannah. It’s been quite a month here in Argentina, and I’ve gained even more appreciation for the humans and landscape here. It will be another hard goodbye, but it’s time to push farther South.

I drove back up to San Martin last month to spend some more time with Victor. For the next few weeks, we played house in a mountain cabin by Lake Lolog. I’d accompany him for work, visiting horses around San Martin in the beginning. I’d try to help when I could, whether it be grabbing different tools he needed or helping with his pup, Rusty. We’d usually arrive back at the cabin late at night to cook dinner together, then collapse in a heap with Rusty before waking up to start again the next day. We did find time to play in town as well, which included an asado (bbq) with a brontosaurus size steak for his friend’s birthday, hitting the town to enjoy some beers out, and meeting up with different friends of his either for the World Cup Games or just to say Hola. I recently found out, according to my yearly review on Spotify, I’m in the top 0.05% of The Black Keys fans. The same day I learned this, we watched a soccer game at a friend’s place and after the game we all listened to the Black Keys… this is why I’m one of their most devoted fans! Sometimes we wouldn’t come home to the cabin until 5 AM the next morning, and we’d still decide to open a bottle of wine to chat about something we felt like we needed to share. Despite a bit of a language barrier, we sure did talk a lot.

After San Martin, we headed 5 hours up to Neuquen for his work. At times I wondered about my assessment of risk levels as I helped him steer his truck while he rolled some tobacco as we barreled up the highway at 140 kph, but it was a new and exciting adventure so I was all in. He claimed he had an Argentinian superpower of memorizing every pothole in the road, and when I was steering from the passenger seat, I really wished I had this superpower as well. We had planned to make a trip a bit farther West and North to check out Agua de Agrio, a well-known waterfall up by the border of Chile. After two days of him trimming and shoeing horses, we set off West to find the waterfall. I had been especially excited for this trip and mapped everything out in Caltopo including all of the hikes we hoped to do and potential places we could camp. The waterfall was amazing, and the evidence of the sulfur from nearby volcanos was obvious in the orange coated rocks and the smell. We followed the visit to the Agrio with another hike up to see seven different waterfalls, it was beautiful. Poor rusty has only a few inches worth of legs though so he struggled a bit with our hike!

We returned to San Martin and geared up for our trek in Bariloche. It was difficult to find light weight food to pack up, but eventually I found some powdered soup dust and decided to go with that. He insisted we bring up 10 hardboiled eggs, one for each of us each day. This was a wild idea to me, but why not try it. Crackers and a bit of chocolate, some coffee and tea packets, and we were set! We headed South in Savannah with a few Red Bulls to recover our energy from the past week and hit the road. I realized my Spotify “liked” songs playlist suddenly had much more Spanish music now, and I was kind of happy about that. I learned that Combi music can be different depending on which providence the artists were from, though now I can’t remember which providences I like the best… maybe Cordoba. It felt like a new threshold I could cross with learning this second language.

We found a campground where we could leave Savannah and set off on our hike the next day. The campsite was beautiful, next to a lake, and I felt incredibly relieved to find a place where Sav could be watched over while we hiked. We set off the next morning and made our way up to the Frey. Words won’t do justice to the beauty of this place, so I’ll just leave photos.

The next day we continued on to Refugio Jakob. We headed up from the Frey to a lagoon, up and over a pass, through a forest, then up and over another mountain to finally reach the refugio. There we found out that the forecast would turn the next day, and being the most difficult/technical part of the hike, we were advised by the park ranger to save it for another time. Pretty bummed, but without another option, we opted to head back down the valley and return to the van the next day. We thus indulged in the rest of the food we packed, bought 3 very expensive beers to share in the refugio, and Victor found a guitar to play for a bit. The next morning we headed back down and were stoked to be able to see the passes we had hiked over, way up and above us, the day before. I was really happy to share the mountains with him, it’s a different world up there.

Making our way back to my van proved to be more of a challenge than I’d thought, since I planned for us to take a bus back from our final point after 5 days of hiking instead of needing to take a detour after 3 days due to weather. When we left the trailhead and hit the “main road,” it was a washboard dirt road. I saw on the map that we had another few miles before the nearest town. We eventually found the town, ate some well deserved pizza and drank cold (cheaper) beer, then continued walking along the road to Sav. Un poquito mas y una cerveca mas… our motto for a little bit farther with another beer to share along the way, where he or I would dodge into the nearest gas station or store to buy another one to share on our walk. For one part we hitchhiked for a bit and only found luck after I stuck my thumb out, the luck of a blonde down here helped us out.

Eventually we arrived back at Savannah and spent another day hiking shorter trails to cascadas or lookouts. We cooked up one last dinner together of some juicy steak over the fire, then said our “See you laters” the next morning. It was a tough one. Since then, I’ve been trying to make a plan South and one that can be flexible enough with my work. I’m planning on hiking in to Cochamo Valley in Chile to spend the holiday amongst my favorite types of giants, and then gun it South. With the current issues in Peru, it’s not looking like I can go to work in Lima until mid-January, so I have a bit of time to play more and explore.

With each chapter of this trip and different experiences, I feel different. I was curious with the new Lenso app art portraits. I tried it, and was amazed at the different portraits it created. The ones I liked most were all very, very different and I think I like them so much for just that… they’re so different. I felt like it captured the different priorities I feel at times, whether it’s to be strong and brave, or soft and sensitive. The self portraits I uploaded to the app throughout different parts of my journey clearly reflected both of these feelings. At times I can feel consistent with my love for the mountains and hunger for travel. And at other times I can be unpredictable with my next move or plans and feel vulnerable to the emotions that I feel. It’s been quite an adventure.

I decided to spend the holidays up in the mountains where I’m most happy. I’ll be trekking in the Cochamo Valley from Dec 22 – 26 solo to explore the area. I’d love to climb there someday, though right now isn’t the right time. I also officially applied for the job in Germany for 2 years and will be preparing to move there next July/August. I’m hoping to keep Savannah here in Argentina, and I am playing with the thought of buying some land down here to return to. I really love it here, I could imagine calling it my home.

Map of campsites, here!

Latest song on repeat, here 🙂

One thought on “A month in Argentina

  1. Loved seeing your smiles, Kelly. The places you have gone! Dr. Suess would be amazed! I’ll be thinking of you over the holidays.
    Always with love,
    A. Elaine

    Liked by 1 person

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