Well New Years wasn’t quite alone in a forest, but it wasn’t too far off. I was in a nice little riverside campsite, along with maybe 10 others. I had had a tough day on the bike, so although I could have joined them in the cabin, I ended up drinking some wine from the Tetrapak I was carrying, and falling asleep by 10pm. People talk about noisy Argentinian campsites, and I was a little worried about that, but it was no problem. I would have been too deeply asleep to notice anyway.
After Bariloche, I headed south in the wind and rain to Lago Steffen. This is a 10km dirt road detour off the main road. 4 of those 10km are very steep, with multiple switchbacks. I lost 400m in altitude, coming down to just below 600m. I think that this, combined with being more sheltered, made it feel warmer at the campsite. Still cold though – the temperature inside my tent dropped to 5 degrees overnight. It was a simple campsite, but with a shower block. There was a wood burner attached, that heated the water. There was no fire at first, but later someone lit it – lucky for me, because I didn’t think they would, since so few people were there. I was pretty grateful though, as I was too cold to face a cold shower.
In El Bolson, I stopped at the brewery, which has a campsite. Only one other person was camping, but plenty of locals were eating at the restaurant. Hot water, shelters, food, beer and Wifi – I was pretty happy.
More cold, wind and rain the next day, interspersed with hot sunshine, and some bad roads, made for a tough New Years Eve. New Years Day was a shorter day, but still a lot more climbing than I would have liked. At one stage I picked up a stray dog, that decided to follow me for 5km. It was mostly climbing, so it could keep up. Couldn’t seem to shake it, until I hit a long downhill. Kept trying to discourage it, because I didn’t want the skinny thing following me for miles, only to luck out on food.
Finally the sun came out for extended periods, as I rolled into Trevelin, a former Welsh colony. First time in short sleeves for weeks. Nice easy day too, and a nice hostel – Casa Verde.
I was planning a quiet night, but some others encouraged me to go out. At first we sat by the main plaza/roundabout watching the same cars go by again and again. Turns out there’s not a lot happening in this town of 5-10,000. It has one bar, the “San Patricio Irish Pub” which would be the least Irish Irish pub I’ve ever seen. The only Irish thing was the green curtains.
The problem of course is that Argentinians don’t go out until quite late – we got there at 1:30, but it didn’t pick up until at least 2am. I have no idea where all these people were the rest of the night, but they were still going strong at 5am when we pulled the plug. A note to others going to this pub – do not order the “Cuban Mojiti” – rather than use fresh mint, they appeared to have used toothpaste for flavour. We’re not sure what was in the “destornallido” either, but it was strong. Another note is that you should be wary of places that let you pour your own vodka mix. Perhaps we should have done what the locals did, and stuck to beer.
So today was spent recovering, and wandering about this town. Odd place, with fair Welsh-looking people speaking Spanish. It’s also interesting seeing the places with immaculately groomed and watered lawns, something you don’t often see here. It rains a lot, but the dry winds seem to strip the moisture rapidly.
Tomorrow I will head back to Chile, to join the famed Carretera Austral. Not sure what communications will be like for the next week or so. Will update the blog, and add photos when possible.