Buses and Backpacks
Having refreshed our digital presence, we can execute plan B and explore more of this continent. On the way we also want to discover inspiring sustainable solutions that we can’t reach by boat. As trains are as good as absent here, we decide to travel by bus to minimize our CO2 footprint, despite the long distances and travel times compared to flying. “We’ll also save money and see more of the countryside,” Floris smiles. It feels a bit awkward to leave Lucipara 2 behind, but harbourmaster Rodrigo and our friend Willy from SY Pazzo promise to keep an eye on her. Also, the pontoons are firmly constructed, there’s 24/7 security and the marina is sheltered. Enough to convince Ivar that it is safe to leave Luci alone.
Still, changing from life on our own boat to one on buses and with backpacks is easier said than done. Until the last minute, we are busy ticking off items on our to-do list, including cleaning out the fridge, taking down our flag and stuffing things in our backpack. It all takes longer than planned, so the only reason we still catch our long-distance bus to Argentina is the light Sunday morning traffic, through which the minibus to the bus station rushes in no-time.
Bariloche and Beyond
“I can get used to this,” Ivar says while sipping from a coffee the bus steward just brought. Sat in comfy seats, green hills and forests flash by against a background of snow-capped mountains, at a speed that we haven’t experienced in a long time. Closer to Bariloche, our first destination, lakes dominate the landscape and the sun begins to shine. What a warm welcome back to Argentina!
We arrive in Bariloche, a resort that is popular for hiking in summer and skiing in winter. It’s in-between the peak seasons, so we don’t see many other ‘gringos’, foreign tourists, but during a hike at the nearby lakes we meet Belgian couple Tim and Jorunn. With them we enjoy the area’s splendid natural surroundings, as well as some of the bar scene.
A few days later we bus our way north through Argentina. Remarkably soon after leaving the lakes region the blue and green landscape turns dry and barren. In-between our stopovers in Mendoza, La Rioja and Salta we come across out-of-this-world landscapes. The enormous Andes mountain range impresses us, especially the Aconcagua. With its 6,962 meters it is the world’s highest peak outside the Himalaya, yet it doesn’t even stand out next to the other mountain peaks. Further north, in the Talampaya National Park, the elements have sculptured the most curious rock formations over eons of time. We feel tiny next to the steep, bright orange rocks that rise like cathedral walls from the desert.
As we approach the border with Bolivia we see more descendants of indigenous people and traces of the ancient Inca culture in the way their culture and dresses. We also feel out of shape. Even small hikes exhaust us. It’s a sign that we’re not yet adjusted to life at altitudes of more than 3,000 meters.