Day No 1
My big trip `Ona does South America` started in the metro. I entered it with my big backpack, weighting, I’m guessing, around 30 kilos and waited till we come to `Estacion central`. My first time in that bus terminal so I could only hope I will manage to find it. Because with my luck and with the sizes of those things in Santiago – anything is possible.
Just as I predicted – I got lost in the very beginning. Not being used to this big weight on my back it was not so easy wandering around. I was just about to try my Spanish skills and ask `where the hell are those buses?` then I found an arrow to go up the escalator. And here we are – there is a bus terminal. Just above the whole building. Well, ok, I was not the one to discuss where to keep it. Just surprised. Somehow that did not make sense to me.
Since I got in a little early, I allowed myself to buy some snack for the bus and waited. It came almost on time. For the sake of `if you ever do the same route` I will mention that I took a bus Pullman Santiago-Puerto Montt for 16 000$ [Chilean pesos]. Since the night before I slept total of only couple of hours, had pisco before and danced till the dawn, I was trying my best to fall asleep. somehow that did not work in the best way. I was, you can say, too tired to sleep. And had one too many thoughts in my head. So crazy, I just could not let it go. Why like this? It was so great and then it blew over. And the worst part of it – I am not going to learn. Just to repeat the same mistake. Because there is no way I am going to avoid it. Not my style. Not our style, better yet.
At some point the sleep actually kicked in. I was waiting for the morning with my eyes open, with my steps in the dreams.
Day No 2
I arrived to Puerto Montt with almost no delay – at 8 in the morning. Having slept for enough amount of time I was feeling more or less ok. There was a woman in the station offering me a place to sleep, but I was very optimistic about the possible couchsurfing experience, so I rejected her offer. Instead I went for the internet and learned that none of my requests were responded positively. Oh well, so I got back to the same woman. She offered me a place, I knew for Chilean standards – very good. I even got my own double room [for the price of dorm bed] with TV, free wi-fi, breakfast and so on. So, traveling tip: if you come to Puerto Montt and somebody is offering you a place for 8000$ - you may consider taking it. The best part – she was living close to the bus terminal so at least I knew, once I leave PM, I would not have to die by trying to bring my heavy bag back to the terminal.
I went in to the room she was giving to me. She said if there is someone else coming, they would put that person in the same room, but me, a girl used to the dorm-looking hostels could not mind much of that. I agreed on everything, rearranged a little of my bags and went for a walk.
After walking for 3-4 hours with stops I realized two things – it is a city full of homeless and drunken people AND there is nothing to see/do in there. So after seeing most or mainly all of the city I got back to my `hostel`. I got my computer out, checked what else to do there [turns out, even google agrees with me there is nothing to see there] and got a message from a guy from CS to meet. Well, why not, it’s not like I am busy lady in this town.
We met and walked around some more. It turned into a pretty great night. We talked about a lot of things, we had beer on the pier, we met a French guy who was selling temporary flowers and had amazing little kitty. Before I knew it – it was already after midnight and I was so damn tired that all I wanted to do is put my head on the pillow, I put this day for the sleep as well.
Day No 3
I woke up in the morning a little later than expected, but still on time. I realized that it is raining outside. Well, just my luck, if it is raining I will see zero of the damn volcano I came here for, so decided to sleep some more. You don’t go out into the fog when it’s raining.
After the second sleep the rain stopped and I got out. All I needed to do it to go to the bus terminal, take a bus that had Puerto Varas written on the front and we went for a half an hour ride to the place where I could take another little pick-up van for national park. I got out of the little bus and it was still raining, cloudy and foggy. Here goes my volcano, but I did not want to give up, so went looking for the tourist information. And I found it, two of them actually, both of which have been closed. Just my luck, I know, but then again, some guy asked me if I was going to the national park, I nodded as `yes` and he showed me to the little bus. Five more minutes and I was already going to the destination. Weather have been changing all 80 kilometers. It was sunny, then it was cloudy, then it was raining and so on. I had no idea what I will find once I get there.
The bus driver took us almost to the gates of the national park, informed us about the last bus that goes back and let us go. So.. traveling tip here – if you are not dying to see that damn volcano, think twice if you really want to get there. You pay 800$ to get to Puerto Varas, 2000$ more to get to national park and finally 1200$ for the entry. And then you enter you get to walk no more than 300 meters, see a little river that have little waterfalls around and volcano, which, in my case, was covered in clouds that I could only see the bottom of it. I took all the possible turns but all of them just took me to the forest which was not even special.
I got out of the park earlier than expected, so instead of heading back to Puerto Varas I have decided to go to the lake, 7 kilometers away. Well, once again, that was not that special as well. It was cloudy, you can see volcano [or you could, if weather was good] and walk a little around. After all that I went back to Puerto Montt and since the next day I had to catch an early bus to Bariloche [in Argentina] I went to sleep early. Still with the sound of the rain in my window.
Day No 4
I bought the ticket in advance, but for the traveling tip – I used Andesmar company [completely satisfied with them, by the way] and paid 13000$ for the ticket. It took us around 8 hours together with customs and all to get to Bariloche. And since this time I was luckier and had a couch already from CS, the only thing I had to do was to call the guy once I’m there. I tried. I really did. But my luck was with me again. I tried to use public phone, but I needed coins for it. I had no coins, or I could not find them and no one would exchange those for me. Damn people, they never have coins and in most places they require ONLY coins. So I was wandering around thinking what I could do when the bus boy passed through me and asked if I needed to make a phone call. Yes, I said and he gave me his phone. Amazing ah? So I called the guys, we arranged the meeting and I went to search for the meeting point.
It was soooo cold in Bariloche. I immediately thanked everyone I remembered that I still have my winter jacket [in case] and warm shoes and everything. I was waiting in the cold and wind but to my surprise the guy was not on Argentinian time. He actually came earlier. Made me happy instantly. Too bad he brought two more girls and were on the way to the supermarket. Sure, there is no problem for me to go to the supermarket with my 30 kilos on my back. We went to the supermarket, o got something for me for the breakfast and we got to the house. The good thing – it was again, pretty close to the bus terminal. My success was working strangely, but sometimes with me rather than against me. We ate and me and girls went out to the city. When it’s already almost 6 in the afternoon there is not much else to do than just to walk around and spend the night. The city, once again, nothing special. Although every second store in the city – chocolate and liqueurs store. We went into couple of them, tried some chocolate and some drinks, wandered around the streets, the girls kept on doing window-shopping and so on. After a while, once we decided we have seen it all we got back to the place. On the way we met an American guy who was also staying there and got back in.
I talked girls into cutting my fringe [I needed it so bad, so I was happy they agreed to do it, although they were definitely more excited about the whole thing]. My cutting turned into their cutting as well, then they took me as a project, put make up on me and made my hair. Finally after all of the preparations were ready we went out. On the way I have been talking to Roman [the host] about my trip and I have to say, he had some good insights so I kind of changed my plan a little. Or made slight corrections better yet. We went to some little place where we got beer, pizza and Roman’s roommate, who temporarily became my roommate once I was staying there, played some guitar. After that we wondered a lot around the city, finally got into some bar for some more beer and finally – got in.
It was already after 4 in the morning when I went to sleep and I could only hope for an easy day the next day. Well, that did not happen AT ALL.
Day No 5
I woke up the first one of the full house. I took my time. I took a decent shower, breakfast, some search on internet where to go and what to see before everyone else started getting up. We decided to do some sightseeing together with girls.
First thing – a little hill [cannot remember the name] on the 17th kilometer [a lot of things here has address of the kilometer of the road, don’t get confused]. Turned out the hill was not that little and the hike was not that easy. We were all in sandals and I was already cursing. On the other hand it was so damn hot, that I could not literally believe that it changed to fast after the day before when it was so cold.
So the hike up was hard but definitely worth it. The whole scenery with hills, mountains, islands and lakes was really amazing. We spend there some time just looking at the perfect view and resting after that `easy hike`.
We walked a little less than a kilometer and got into the area of the national park [again, cannot remember the name]. We rented bikes [it was expensive, but cheaper than in another place 65$], got a little map and went on. In total we spend around 4 hours on bikes, did several stops, one long one, biked up the hill [damn it was hard at moments] and down the hill [made me feel alive again]. Traveling tip – DO IT. You can also do it on foot [25 kilometers], on a bike as well and it so worth it. Places are amazing, sceneries are fantastic and pictures are priceless. Just bring enough water with you and refill it at the springs around [but keep an eye on them, because even if they are next to the road, I never noticed one until someone showed it to me].
All deadly tired we got back to the place, gave the bikes back and went for the bus. I don’t know why girls decided to hitchhike, but they did. They got the car actually, pretty fast. Too bad it took us only to the 4th kilometer, so we still had to wait for the bus. But we got back home so tired that after some considerations decided not to go out, not to do nothing, but just go to sleep. The day was over.
Day No 6
Already from the day before I knew girls will not be joining me today. I woke up in the morning, the first one once again, googled all the possible places. Francisco [my temporary roommate] advised me to go to Cerro Catedral with the bus and then take a hike. I did like he said.
I got to the bus, but the damn bus would not take the card [which I charged with money, by the way], so I had to pay extra. I paid and waited. We got to the top of the hill and then I just followed the marked road. It was not a hard hike, but it was constantly going up and down, up and down and with the heat and those damn creatures [horseflies or whatever they are called, but really mean, really A LOT constantly around you] and they were p****ng me off. They were stinging as well, so I started killing them. At least, differently from mosquitos, these f***** were easy to spot and kill.
After couple of hours of my hike and plenty of brilliant surroundings to see I got a strange fog, which wasn’t completely fog. I was not sure what that is but then remembered some volcano, which was still spitting ashes and making all of the city look like in the fog. I was informed that it may become more serious, so I decided to quit my hike. After all I was alone, just with my great friend luck, who was very good, just like me, in getting lost even in the obvious places. I turned back.
The hike back took me around the same amount of time and I settled to wait for the bus. The bus took me to the city, I went to the shop, bought something for dinner and got back to the place. No one was home. Just a little note saying that girls are coming back at 7 and we are leaving for the party at 8. I took my time to rest. Roman got back home around 7.40 and told me we are leaving at 8 sharp so if I wanted to go, I should get ready fast. I did. Then girls came back home, stayed there to get ready and we went for the shopping.
We met girls at the bus stop, some more people in the bus and got back to the same national park. Apparently friend, who had a party was living there. With an amazing view to the lake. Just that lucky. It was a bit boring in the beginning to me, because I was too tired to speak Spanish, and knew almost no one around. But it became better, I talked to a Belgium guy who was cycling around the world for almost 3 years, I talked to some more people there and had fun.
Somehow before I noticed all the people I saw before were gone, new ones came in, the party turned into a bit of the mess. So we waited for the bus to come, got to the bus stop and got in. everyone except for me and Francisco were sleeping, we talked about TV series, I mentioned IT crowd, he had it on his computer, so we watched one episode. I laughed so hard. You have to see it. Simply have to.
We watched some more of it once we got back in [other room was already sleeping] and finally went to sleep.
Day No 7
We had the exact same scenario in the morning again. I woke up the first one, took a shower had some breakfast, did some google’ing and then went to wake up the girls. They were supposed to do some trekking with me and I chose Cerro Lopéz for that day. After seeing the pictures and all they finally decided not to join me. Oh well.
I left the house. I got into the bus, got myself where I needed to start the hike and moved on. It was too much of sun, too much of those damn horseflies, that I kept on killing as they were stinging me and too much of steepness. No kidding, no one told me it was a hard walk and it was sooo hard. I had to stop every 10 minutes at least, because I had to take a break. I met a Danish on my way and after a little while we started walking together.
It was good to have someone there. If it wasn’t for him, I am not sure if I had made it to the top. It’s like you keep on going because you see another person doing that. But it was so hard.. we took a break on the way at the restaurant but it was closed, so finally this Danish guy was out of water and I guess had to stick with me, because I had some.
We kept on going, silently or sometimes loudly cursing and taking short breaks. It was still long way to that little pink house we saw. Suddenly, after maybe 1.5 hours of hard climb we reached the car looking road. It was a piece of cake walking it. We felt so relieved.
If that wasn’t enough, we found the river we had to cross and some snow. We were both happen to cancel Christmas this year and needed at least a little of it, so we were happy as little kids finding it and taking pictures. The last couples of hundred meters were steep but we did not care much about it anymore – we were almost at the top.
The views up there were amazing, but not dying amazing. That damn active volcano and ashes did the trick. We had the chance to only see a little bit of the view. If it was a clear day just like the first one – we would have had a blast there. But either way, we entered the little pink house, found beer there and took one each – just as rewarding ourselves because of that steep damn walk.
On our way back we decided to take another way – the one for cars, but it was so slow [it was hardly going up or down, just around. Good for cars, not so good for people] that after a while we took the same steep road. Of course, going down is so much easier. We kept on walking, sometimes running down and kept on being surprised how the hell did we manage to come up there.
Once we were down on the normal road we realized that we have more than an hour to wait for the bus, so instead of waiting we just walked to the Colonia Suiza. Nothing to see there basically, just to catch a bus. He gave me his phone number and I was supposed to let him know if we were going out that night.
I got back to the city, but instead of going home I went to the bus terminal to buy some tickets. Turned out, I was leaving the next day at 9.30 in the morning and I also bought my ticket on the Route 40 to El Calafate. Just to be on a safe side. I got back home, found it completely empty, so took my time and packed my stuff. I talked to Roman and promised to get some beers and come to his friend’s place.
Once I got there I learned that it is mostly going to be just the three of us. We ate some very tasty closed pizza, but then they went on talking about some relationships issue in fast Spanish, so I just stayed there, pretty much only enjoying my beer. Francisco came in later and joined their conversation. At the end – we went home [and I was inappropriately happy] and I went to sleep.
Day No 8
In the morning I got up and not wanting to wake Francisco up, I took my stuff out to pack. Well, almost all of my stuff, because I forgot my phone there. I packed and left for the bus. Once in the bus terminal I realized that my phone left me and was enjoying a nice sleep in Francisco’s room. Wow, I’m screwed or so I though, but I thought maybe he will be nice enough and send it to me to Mendoza, where I knew I will be at some point of my trip. A brilliant idea that Francisco is originally from Mendoza and he would be going there today/tomorrow cheered me up – I was almost sure I would be getting my phone back. This thought let me fall asleep in the bus.
It’s a good thing I asked where we are once the bus stopped somewhere, because it was my city I was heading to – Esquel. The bus was early, I was sleepy so I got confused. But either way I got out on time. The tourist information was of course closed, but at least they had some sort of a map on their doors so I more or less checked my way to my possible hostel and went on. I stopped a little in the tourist information which was open and they made my day. The lady was very nice. She explained it all to me, where I can go trekking, how long would it take to me, which place is better. She even marked my possible hostel on the map, so I find it easier.
I got into the hostel and I was greeted by a very nice Swiss guy, apparently. He complimented my very good Spanish, told me I can get a room there for one night, showed it all to me and told me to ask if I happen to have any questions. I left my things in my room and before it was too late, I decided to do some walking around. I started with Cerro del Cruz, but after going very steep again and some dark clouds coming my way I decided against it. My feet were still sore from the day before and I did not want to get all that rain on me. I moved down.
Since lady in tourist information told me there is a Lithuanian museum [crazy, right?] in the city, I decided to try that. I walked maybe 3 or 4 kilometers to the place. On my way I found this sign `Republica de Lituania` and could not believe my eyes. I never thought I have to go all the way down to Patagonia in Argentina and find myself in the Republic of Lithuania. I kept on going. The museum turned out to be just a area of cabins with some little Lithuanian decorations. It was even closed so I saw nothing. Still it was a nice walk.
In the evening I decided just to read a book [I took Terror from the hostel] and went to sleep. During my sleep I heard `there is someone sleeping in my bed` and I thought – no way I am moving like in Paris. They showed me this bed and I am sleeping in MY bed. The next way I actually realized the sentence was `would you keep it down, someone is already sleeping over here`. Oh well
Day No 9
The next day I woke up, packed my things, left them in the hostel and went for a little trek to Laguna. It was cloudy and not too hot when I was going there. It was nice, not too special though, and after a few hours I headed back. The sun was coming out and making it so so hot that I decided just to get back to the hostel [they let me stay till my bus, just not keeping by bed, therefore I REALLY recommend Casa del Pueblo in Esquel] and just read a book. A Dutch girl joined me, so instead of reading we talked, climbed the tree, tried some very good cherries. A German couple got into the hostel, so we continued conversations with them, then a Australian guy joined us. At the end I just had to pack my thing and get to the bus terminal to catch my bus on the amazing Ruta 40 road to get to the El Calafate in 24 hours.
My bus came on time an awesomely good looking driver congratulated me on a bus. Damn he was good looking. Some sort of Van Diezel look he had – shaved head, deep charming eyes. Really great. But after a bit I fell asleep. I had a long way to go.
Day No 10
The next day was spent in the bus. We went on Ruta 40, which is, by the way amazing. The views are completely priceless. We stopped several times to repair the bus and we had the chance to take some pictures. After a long way we got into El Calafate. I already had a reservation for the hostel, so I was not worried – I will find a place to stay in this extremely touristy city.
The Van Diezel looking driver even showed me which way to go [I knew it, but it was nice to look at those eyes for the last time] and I take my turns. I got into the hostel, another kind of good looking, shaved head guy greeted me there, showed me to my room and I was settled. I just went back to the bus station for some more information about glaciers and getting to THE end of the world [better known as southernmost city – Ushuaia] and went back. It was already after midnight so I just went to sleep.
Day No 11
I woke up in the morning only thanks to some guy who had his alarm on. I got ready, had breakfast and went to the bus station to get the bus to the glaciers. I met the same Dutch girl there and we went to the Glaciers together. Once we got there she took a boat and I decided to save 70$ and went straight on. I finally saw the glacier. Big, huge in fact piece of ice, but very nicely done. There are several roads there, I took them all, some of them twice [they give you too much time there, honestly].
Back in El Calafate I waited for the bus together with Dutch girl, we said our goodbyes will Ushuaia hopefully and I went back to the city. There is nothing much to do besides eating and shopping in the city, so I ended up with my computer and a beer in my hostel. The good looking hostel worker told me we could go out, but at the end I just went to sleep. He did not show too much interest anyways.
Day No 12
The next day in El Calafate was a little slow. I packed my things, left my bag in the hostel and went to wander around. My first stop – Laguna de Nimez. Apparently the only thing you can do as a sightseeing in the city. There is a 25$ entrance fee, but I did not know about it, I went in, no one stopped me so at the end I saved the money.
The place itself is nothing special, really. Just a lake, some birds [I only saw several]. The most exciting part – flamingoes. To me – just pink birds. You cannot get too close to them, but I managed to make at least some pictures.
After that I tried to find a simple spot to stay, pass time and read a book. Turns out – not that simple. The city is amazingly windy so no matter where you go, you get too much of it. I finally found some park, but I was kicked out of it by an angry lady, who said I cannot stay there on the green grass. At the end I just stayed on the bench, read my book, finally got into the hostel, tried to call a guy in Ushuaia about hosting me, do I need to mention it did not work out? I finally just stayed with my book and my computer and a good looking worker there till it was almost the time to go to the bus station.
The bus to the end of the world [el fin del mundo] was at 3 a.m. and we were several of us like that waiting for it. Finally it cam, I sat down, a guy from Israel [I cannot understand the language, but once I hear it I know where it is from] and fell asleep. 5 hours of the bus riding was spent in sleep.
Day No 13
Early in the morning we reached Rio Gallegos and got off the bus. It was 1.5 hours of waiting in the bus station for the next bus to Ushuaia. I waited patiently and once it came a bus terminal worker, with some teeth missing was telling me how beautiful I am, how my eyes are beautiful and my face is pretty. How his heart become bigger and after me telling him I am not coming back told me I broke his heart. Well, it was just so funny, made me laugh, especially that I know I looked like crap after half of night spent just trying to be awake and the other half in the bus.
We got on the bus and what to you know – I got the same guy from Israel sitting next to me. There were much more Israelis people in the bus. I was sure he is one of them – young, just after the army, traveling in South America.
Soon we got engaged in conversation. I had to eat my oranges before we crossed the Chilean border, so I offered some for him. He was not just after the army. He was my age and he actually did not like all these crazy kids after the army who does not know how to behave.
We had so much fun. He had similar sense of humor so we just kept on making fun at each other. We laughed a lot and the bus ride was becoming really pleasant.
At the border we met an Austrian couple and together with them and Canadian older guy had some fun as well.
At the end we kept on talking to this guy next to me. I learned a lot about Jews [some thing I did not know before], I learned a lot about him in person and had a really great time. But after the bus stopped he rushed after his friends to the hostel. He kind of offered me to go with them, but somehow I sensed his friends were totally not interested in having a chick together with them, so he just said goodbye and we went separate ways.
I tried the recommended hostel to me – Freestyle. With no trouble I found it and a guy working there found me. With optimism he asked if I have a reservation and with the regret I had to say no. I saw from his face they had nothing to me. But he instantly offered me to leave my bag with him, so I could go and look for a place easier. He took my bad and his comment was `oh wow. That is a heavy bad, what do you have in here? Another friend? I told him there are two imaginary friends there, but both really fat. He even gave me a map, marked several hostels there. If that was not enough he called, like he said, the second best hostel in Ushuaia and reserved me a place. I was so happy and so grateful to him that I wanted to stay there even more.
Either way I went to my hostel, now reserved, secretly hoping maybe my friend from the bus will be there too. He wasn’t. but at least a bed for me was. I got it, left my things, checked my mail and went to bed thinking – I am literally at the end of the world. Wow. End of the world. And I managed to reached it. Sounds amazing, don’t you think?
Day No 14
I woke up in the morning, got wonderful breakfast in hostel and went out. I know there is not much to see in the city, so I went for a little track to the little glacier, which, I knew from the stories, is just a little ice cube if you have seen the one in Calafate. Do I even need to mention I did not get to the damn thing?
I started ok on the way and I was definitely heading to the right way, but somehow I manage to loose it. I guess I just took a wrong trekking road, but either way – I had a nice walk in the forest, wet my shoes completely [my trekking good shoes were still wet from the night before in the rain and safe back in the hostel], saw some great views to the mountains full of snow [almost Christmas] and the city and went back.
On my way back I could not help but thing about my mysterious Casino at the end of the world. It got shape right now. I was in the literal end of the world. There is casino in here. I could sense and feel MY casino at the end of the world. I even went there and took a picture of it. Somehow it made me shiver. My Casino at the end of the world. And it has a shape already. I am still not sure if I should/could enter it with no eternal effect on me. I still don’t know if I want to go there and place the best, my highest bet. I am not even sure if I went there, should I take a round in a Black Jack, or Poker or simply roulette. I know I still have several days to find that out and to make my actions accordingly to hopefully sober mind. still it drives me crazy. So many things were happening in that mysterious casino at the end of the world and here it is. Casino at the end of the world. Can I handle it? Will you be there to hold my hand? Even if only virtually. I need you to hold my hand again.
P.S. Pictures are coming, just slowly.