Wednesday, March 11
If you have traveled across southern Wyoming on I-80, you have some idea of the landscape I traversed some days ago. But to complete the picture, place yourself in a bus without air conditioning and only two windows that open. It smells of apples, feet, and liverwurst and the soundtrack for todays journey will be provided by a rabid pack of young Israelis, ranting at the top of their guttural voices, commandeering every unoccupied square foot of space. Slowly we grind along this road that, for 80% percent of its 400 miles, is a loose rock gravel. We pull in late at night to an overcrowded hostel in the middle of nowhere, and in the morning get up and drive across Nevada.
The second day, though much longer, was over primarily paved roads, I had a double seat to myself, and the gang leader was down with a cold, so the day past quite well. The scenery grew increasingly interesting, until, as the sun set, we were twisting and turning up a cool mountain road, approaching our final destination of Bariloche. This tourist town sits lakeside surrounded by high peaks, much like Lake Tahoe, and hosts a wintertime ski resort, as well as limitless chocolate shops. It is pleasant enough, though still on the expensive side, and provides a day's rest with which to get some business done and gear up for my excursion west. Though I might have a day or two back in this country before I fly away, I am sad to admit that my time here has been far too short, I would like another 12 weeks to see more of the ever-changing landscape and get to know better my host.
The Argentinian people, as I have encountered them, are extremely courteous, patient and quite eager to chat, despite my limited supply of phrases. They are generous with the less fortunate, handing out coins to the street beggars or bread to those who ask for something to eat. During my walks, I have encountered large packs, as many as a dozen, of very large, very clean dogs, which under most circumstances would send me up a tree. Here, they are content to just snuffle up against me, walk with me a while, hoping for a crust or caress, then amble on there way. They are definitely the most well mannered canines I have ever come across and I think their demeanor speaks volumes of how their masters comport themselves. As I cross the Andes, and venture into the rainy west coast of the continent, I expect I will be greeted with equal warmth by the people of Chile.