As irony would have it, Buenos Aires was beautifully sunny on the day Ollie and I packed our bags to leave. After a 25-hour bus journey, we arrived in Bariloche, a city in the Lake District of Patagonia. The coach was surprisingly comfortable, although their food left much to desired. They were even playing films, including an over-the-top Chinese Kung Fu film dubbed in Spanish with English subtitles, which provided much amusement for the two of us. I have never seen so much drama outside of Bollywood. I also added to the theatrics by spending a lot of the journey in tears, already worried about Ollie’s return to the UK in a couple of weeks’ time whilst I would continue alone.
Apparently, Argentine students flock to Bariloche in the winter for a skiing holiday/piss up, which we discovered when walking through the city centre at night. It felt so familiar: inebriated, fancy dress-wearing students partying in the street, similar to the skiing holidays I had experienced at university. Some of them were wearing shorts and ripped up fancy dress t-shirts – bear in mind this was winter in Argentina and the temperature was close to 0 degrees. No judgement here though as I probably would have done the same thing given the chance…
The next morning brings me to when I originally started writing this post, in Bariloche itself. I was lying across the bed in our quirky log cabin of a hostel whilst writing these notes about our journey, patiently waiting for Ollie to fix the toilet. Our only private bathroom for the entire trip and the plumbing was less than satisfactory.
We ended up spending the entire morning trying to fix our inconvenient situation and then gave up because it was too difficult. We made lunch instead.
“Are you actually going to do anything today?”
Out of nowhere, Cecilia, our hostel owner, piped up with this question. The cheek. We would’ve been out already if it hadn’t been for your weak plumbing, Cecilia! And so began our song: ‘Ceciiiilia, we’ve broken your bog’.
Contrary to our cynical hostel owner’s beliefs, we actually did manage to do something that day. We took the bus to the end of a beautifully scenic route to Llao Llao National Park (pronounced ‘jao jao’), where we were greeted by some incredible views. I love mountains and their impossible peaks; they make me feel small but also peaceful and inspired. We took in the magnificent scenery around us as we walked down towards the lake, its stillness only broken by Ollie skimming stones. We were alone; it felt like we had stumbled across an undiscovered treasure.
It seemed less undiscovered, however, as we continued our walk along the lakeside. Only sections of the lake are open to the public, the rest is monopolised by huge houses and privately owned land. Strolling along the path, we imagined what it would be like to live here, breathing in the clean air and waking up to breath-taking views every day. Just as we were dreaming of a future life in Bariloche, a family stepped out of one of the houses and kindly invited us to explore their garden and enjoy the wonderful vistas.
On the bus into the city centre, we witnessed the clouds turn into flames as the sky split into glowing hues of red and purple. We arrived on the shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi just in time to see the sun descend behind the silhouetted mountains. Sitting on the pebbles for a few minutes, we enjoyed the last few rays of sunshine before the cold seeped through our winter coats. Then we did what any sensible people would do in these conditions and went for ice cream.
We finished our second night in Bariloche with a first: we cooked a meal in the hostel. Limited on spices but rich in herbs, we discovered that rosemary tastes really good in pasta. And, you’ll be pleased to know, later that night, we managed to fix the toilet! What did you do with your day, Cecilia??