As I sit here watching Lord of the Rings in Spanish, I can’t help but wonder how long it must’ve taken the entire cast to learn Spanish and record a full additional version. Perfect accents and all. Furthermore, it is astounding how their lips appear to be prouncing totally different words in totally different voices. Peter Jackson you cease to amaze me.
Other notable recent thoughts include:
“Kill me now” at 8am when we arrived at the Bus Terminal to find out our ride to Mendoza was cancelled because they closed the pass. Good thing we didn’t think it was a good idea to not sleep because we had 9 hours on a bus to sleep. Also good thing it was rush hour and we didn’t have enormous backpacks. Additional good thing that they so easily refund your ticket in person and not through endless emails. Furthermore good thing that it’s super easy to speak in Spanish when you’re sleep deprived.
“Why is the club closing so early? Oh shit it’s 5am.”
“I really wish this bathroom had toilet paper right now.”
“Holy crap hot showers are amazing.”
“This grass is definitely wet, but I really don’t want to move.”
“I think Ja Rule is the perfect soundtrack for cooking. Pairs well with Ashanti.”
“$3 bottles of good wine are a slippery slope.”
“Is it wrong to eat ice cream 2 times today?”
“3 times is probably the limit.”
“Let’s just not put a limit on the simple pleasures in life.”
“I wonder how many holes can I repair in my pants before it’s time to move on?”
“No shirt, no shoes, no man bun, no service.”
“Can you play an inspirational song like Keisha or something?” – Courtney
In other news, I am back in Santiago for the second time in a week. My Wolfpack has grown to 4, but will shrink to 2 tomorrow. I am joined by fellow San Franciscan and former colleague, Nicolette, along with two annoyingly awesome Frenchmen, Manouel and Mathew. Manouel was the featured Frenchman from Buenos Aires. He and I finally rendezvoused again in Santiago last week for a final tour. Our totally non-proverbial, totally literal, bags are packed (as per every freakin day it seems) for tomorrows journey to Mendoza. By journey, I mean a 9 hour trip in a pretty accommodating coach bus. Unfortunately, the Frenchies will be left behind to prep for their Bolivia/Peru bicycle adventure. So long Frenchies, I will seriously, literally miss you both!! You came very close to convincing me to join, but alas I think I should make my own adventure. UPDATE to this: our bus was cancelled and we found cheap flights to Easter Island. Nicolette is already there and is staying Sun – Thur before returning to the USA. I will be there Mon – Mon. The dream trip of a lifetime really. Just watch 180 Degrees South if you don’t already know.
Highlights of the last couple weeks are neither few nor insignificant. Post week of “meat sweats” – literally sweating while preparing meat – the obvious next stop was to unintentionally end up in a vegan hostel in Bariloche, Argentina. Couldn’t dream up a better detox, although I don’t think the vegans appreciated my experience as much as I did. Good thing they were also just temporary vegans. If you ever find yourself in Bariloche, you must stay at Hostel 41 Below. Ironically I stayed my first couple nights at Hostelworld’s supposedly “Best Hostel in Latin America.” But I’ve come to notice, I’ve stayed at the “Best Hostel in South America” a few times. I think they just reprint Hostelworld Awards for themselves. It’s like going to New York and stumbling upon the “Worlds Best Slice of Pizza” sign and wondering how you came to be so lucky to find this gem on Broadway. Then you take 5 steps and find another “Worlds Best” slice. Maybe it was just voted by the owners mother.
Bariloche is a picture perfect spot to slow things down. Situated next to a ridiculously stunning lake, you have a perfect backdrop to sit yourself down and try the absurd amount of chocolate the city has to offer. Highly recommend forgoing a day of hiking to have a Tour de Chocolate, where you sample each stores same same, but different chocolates. Choose a few bites, take to the lake to taste and debate each pieces merits. Truthfully we only made it to 3 stores before hitting a cacao wall.
Taste and discuss, rinse and repeat!
When you’re not indulging in chocolate, there’s an endless amounting of hiking to, uh, hike. The bus system puts SF Muni to shame. You can hop on a bus to get to just about every trailhead. There’s also opportunities to camp or stay at various refugios located on the top of the surrounding mountains. Unfortunately it was ankle deep snow and I was tired of freezing my ass off, so I politely declined a night of hielo. Because why would you camp, when you can cuddle with this little dude!
This was another perk of 41 Below. However if you visit next year, no guarantee the kitten won’t age a bit. Other perks of 41 Below are nightly vegan meals for an affordable price. Seriously you sign up for 2 nights and stay a week. They suck you in, and you become family.
But alas, todo lo bueno se acaba, (all good things must end) and it was time to move on. I decided to chase a good weather window in Pucon in hopes of getting to summit the local volcano. To get there I travelled for 2 days by bus with some fellow Berkeley hippy ass gringos with a strong green thumb. Wassup Jess and Jorel! Supposedly the bus ride is stunning, but I pretty much slept the whole time, except when the mouth breather behind me would Jet Li my seat. God dammit, sometimes people need to learn just the slightest bit of awareness.
The weather window in Pucon worked out absolutely perfectly. I snuck a run in the first afternoon to shake off two days of bus travel. I inherited a pair of really short running shorts before I left that seems perfect for travel size excercise. Unfortunately I didn’t realize exactly how short they were though. Every run is accompanied by the constant glances of locals at my miles of legs. Free show for them – you’re welcome.
The two highlights were the Volcan Villaricca climb and subsequent Termas Geometricas the following day. Villaricca was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. The skill level to get to the top isn’t super technical, so it’s more just about endurance. If you go to Pucon, it’s worth it to shell out the cash for a guide. You can’t climb it without one. The climb starts pre dawn and is rock for the first 2 hours before transitioning to snow and ice. Throughout the climb we were entertained to a soundtrack of climbers yelling “hielo” to warn others of falling ice above. I pushed for the summit with a lively group of Brits and Nordic fellows who helped set a speedy pace to beat the other groups to the peak. The views as the sun began to rise are indescribable. Especially as you huff and puff up a volcano alternating between steps and ice axe placement. Combining these two is an unforgettably unique experience. A few hours later you reach the summit and are greeted by the coolest sight ever. Literal friggin lava billowing and shooting out of a hole in the top of a mountain. It’s exactly what you would expect a volcano to look like, but cooler. I’m talking lava boiling, building and bursting into the sky. The fumes are so intense that you have to wear gas masks at times to keep breathing. After taking in the sites of the magma, you get a moment to eat your lunch on the side and bask in the accomplishment. Best day old empanadas of my life. If all of this isn’t great enough you then get to descend, not by foot, but by these mini butt sleds that we carried up in our packs. Heading down a less steep face, you fly by the seat of your pants using the ice axe as a brake. Literally couldn’t make up a more awesome day.
Riding the high of the day we all went out in town for some good old dancing the night away. Truly wonderful filled with new friends from all over the world. After a late wake up, a few of us from the hostel piled into a van heading straight for heaven. Heaven goes by the name of Termas Geometricas, and it is nothing short of the most heavenly experience of my life. An amalgamation of about 15 differently heated natural hot springs located in a rain forrest esq valley. Seriously, my god.
Other highlights since last posts include helping a cool friend of a friend work on his cabin in the hills of Bariloche. Hanging with the local skaters of Bariloche one afternoon. Lots of crazy beautiful hikes. Especially Refugio Frey. Dancing in empty bars. Dancing in crowded bars. Watching Top Gun. Making wonderful dinners with wonderful people. Sunrises and sunsets and all that other basic crap.
I’ve said it before, but it’s becoming impossible to cover all I have done in my travels. I never intended to, and I know now I can’t. The best part is sharing highlights here and the details in person. I can honestly say I have not had a boring moment in the past 2 and a half months. Now enjoy some more photos. Love y’all.