Well the rafting was stunning, well organised, exhilarating, great scenery – there is definitely life in the old dog ! A long day – 2 hours out to the rafting location, half an hour of which is on a gravel road, 14 km of rafting some of which is a gentle float and some of which is somewhat awe inspiring as in “we are going where?”
There were 8 of us from odyssey plus the local guide and so we had occupied a raft to ourselves, great fun (and hard work) from everyone. Comment of the day came from Vanessa as following a particularly violent traverse of a rapid Francois was clearly in some discomfort. In her dead pan Bolton accent Vanessa enquired “What’s the matter? Crossed a bollock?” General hilarity ensued and a somewhat strangled reply of “twisted not crossed”. Two other highlights to mention, nearly lost Karen who then almost took Sue and Vanessa with her but all managed to stay on board and as the photographic evidence shows (will post when I remember to bring DVD to internet cafe) Karen lost and amazingly recovered her paddle mid stream.
A lengthy lunch of river trout, salad and cervesa (beer!) and a sleepy drive home completed a simply cracking day.
30th December was a 6 am departure from Bariloche to head to Pucon, Chile our New Year destination. Fantastic scenery on the so called 7 lakes drive but surpassed by the Lanin volcano on the Argentina – Chile border, great views and clear blue skies. The clear skies were a feature of our stay in Bariloche and the shots from of the moon (yes its the moon, not the sun were taken at 3 am, basically the view from our tent – well maybe 3 metres away.) I am seriously starting to question what is a good photo as each viewpoint seems to be surpassed by the next, all we could have wished for and more.
A tedious 2 hour border crossing – no particular problem just the average level of bureaucratic efficiency in these parts, e.g. one queue for people entering and leaving. Just general chaos. Wait hugely enlivened by chatting to the locals in a mixture of their minimal English and our almost non-existent Spanish.
Turns out teenagers are the same the world over as when father introduces his family and says daughter one is “sixteen years” and daughter two has “fourteen years” The roll of the eyes and the look from daughter two could only be interpreted as “Dad!, you are embarrassing me!” Seriously impressed that we are on holiday for 6 months and shower us with good wishes and recommendations for places to go.
Arrive at camp around 6, set up in hour and then off for a briefing on available activities in particular the volcano climb which Karen is doing , a 4-5 hour hike the last hour or so with crampons and ice picks I decide is probably a bit much for the hip so I am going zip lining instead. Karen gets to peek into an active volcano and then slide down the bit which requires ice crampons n the way up. Can’t wait to hear all about it when she is back, hopefully tired but happy.
Barriloche as well as being an activity centre also known as the home of chocolate in Argentina, calling itself little Switzerland is perhaps a stretch too far but the theme extended through the town with names such as “Swiss Chalet” and “Hotel Chamonix” abounding.
That said there is an excellent range of chocolate available and some very swish shops serving it in all shapes, size, varieties and forms imaginable. We spent an interesting hour at the chocolate museum where due credit is given to the contributions of various key European figures /companies in the history of chocolate such as Fry’s, Cadburys and Nestle. Plus a free sample of extremely sweet but delicious hot chocolate. They have made some new exhibition pieces for the museum hand carved chocolate animals (e.g penquino’s) weighing up to 50kg.
The crew go off to get out New year food an Argentinean style barbeque (lots of meat) which is planned for around 10 pm New Years plus the traditional accompaniments of beer and champagne. This as not allowed to bring any fresh produce across the border.
Monday lunch time, the zip lining was great fun – 2 km of flying fox in 11 sections with multiple crossings of river, unfortunately no photos as we didn’t have one between the 4 of us that took this option but all safely stored between the ears.
Interesting conversation with one of the guides he asked me the English for “non-pendilino” which I interpreted as “don’t swing” but turned out he meant “don’t turn” as a I found out 2 minutes later when I crashed into a tree at 15km per hour ! no damage done and something to remember, although the crew were briefly concerned and extremely apologetic.
Jim commented there was not enough pizza on the trip so to address the balance I am having a delicious anchovy pizza, outside with an ice cold beer. Although I have had to apply the factor 30 first, you just done know the pain we are going through on this trip………..
I seriously can’t remember a better new years eve day, although I would teleport home for this evening to wish you a happy new year if we could.
Hot thermal springs tomorrow and then 2 days bush camping to Santiago – and our first hotel for a couple of weeks ! Yippee.
Feliz año Nuevo
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