We stumbled out onto a dusty road on the third day of our hike through the Bariloche mountains (future blog post for when we upload all our photos from the trek!) – both of us fairly sun burned and in need of a rest. Our hasty pre-trip research showed that the best way to return to Bariloche was by getting a taxi to the main road, boarding a bus to the centre of town, and then boarding another to the reach the campsite where we had left some of our belongings. But taxis are for the week, so we decided to hitch. We had heard this was easier for girls [the shorter the shorts, the shorter the wait] and apparently this even applied to our dusty sunburned selves, since the first car to pass by picked us up!
After two very lengthy showers, Aidan and I donned our bags once again (this time loaded with all our unnecessary items) and headed back to the road. People raised skeptical eyebrows when they heard that we wanted to get to El Bolsón that night, since hitchhiking is a game of patience, and getting a ride could take all day. Maybe we were spoilt by our earlier experiences, but we were committed to our original plan. South or bust!
I’ll admit that I was more than slightly worried that we’d get a ride halfway to our destination, only to be left stranded with no place to sleep. Aidan pointed out that we had our tent – we could sleep anywhere we wanted! The thought of us setting up camp just off the 40 (the highway spanning the entirety of Argentina) is what kept us going. After all, it would be a story for the blog!
Somehow our recklessness paid off once again. A man picked us up in an exceptionally small car (or that’s how it seemed once all of our bags were squashed in the vehicle) and drove us to the best spot to get picked up. Then we just had the time to take a few pictures of us sticking out our thumbs before a transport truck picked us up. He was heading all the way down to El Calafate, and was thrilled to share his ride with us for a couple hours. I’m writing this post in bits and pieces as I take breaks to stare out the window at the beautiful vistas passing by (Aidan is of course taking time-lapse videos). The blessed life continues!
Listen, Savannah is leaving out the ridiculousness of our drive down to El Bolsón. I’ll lay it out for you here, in point form because I don’t have a firm grasp on punctuation or sentence structure…
- Before getting to Bariloche, neither of us had ever been picked up by a stranger on the side of the road, but the assurances of fellow travellers about the safety of hitchhiking eased our minds
- We decided to give it a go. Less money spent = more money for adventures
- Our first experience: On our way back into town, the second car that passed pulled over. I was elated to see it was the man who had called out “Oy Chicas…” in our general direction not ten minutes earlier
- His car was a tiny two door truck covered in a few layers of dirt
- I clambered over the passenger seat and sat on one of the two parallel benches in the back – my knees up to my chest and head low to avoid knocking the tarp roof
- Savanah hopped in the front and proceeded to have a jovial conversation in Spanish with our new friend. I was able to understand a few words and tried to capture the moment
- After almost hitting 6 pedestrians, we arrived safely in town
- Cut to four days later, three of which were spent trekking in the Andes, and three more hitchhiking experiences under our belts, we found ourselves on the famous Ruta40 at 7pm
- Savannah is on the side of the road with her thumb out; I am trying to hide in the shade to protect my badly sunburnt everything
- No luck for 10 minutes and then a huge transport truck rounds the bend
- I joke about the insanity of being picked up by that monstrosity of a vehicle
- “Oh no that’s my dream to get picked up by a truck driver. We’re getting a ride!” – Savannah confidently declares
- He makes eye contact with me. He points his finger towards the side of the road. I raise my eyebrows in disbelief. He pulls over. We grab our bags and hoist ourselves in.
- I get the luxurious copilot seat, Savannah is relegated the bench behind the front seats
[Not a bench, it was his bed! Seriously such a weird experience]
- We are played strange Chilean music after Savannah suggested some tunes to ease the agonizing silence [Yeah, because before that all we could hear was Aidan gasping at the passing vistas]
- Two hours later we are dropped off just south of El Bolsón, fully prepared for the short walk to our hostel and a real bed (for the first time in 4 sleeps)
- Surprise! It was an hour walk up another mountain face – up what I swear was an 80% grade hill, whereas Savannah believes it was closer to 40%. Apparently my grasp on elevation isn’t the best either…
- This trek involved : a dinner break of sugar cereal and water, the sun going down (we had to pull out headlamps), and almost being attacked by two dogs
- The hostel wasn’t expecting us so they didn’t have enough dinner prepared for 2 extra people [we had to watch the rest of the guests eat their decadent meal while our own stomachs started self digesting] but we were free to use the left over communal box
- Made pasta, devoured pasta, passed out