From Bariloche with chocolate

Having not yet spent more than a week in one country before switching, this week we have continued the pattern by swapping back from Chile to Argentina – from chilly to balmy, slang-filled Spanish to slurred Spanish, pisco sours to Malbec.

The week began by taking up an offer from Walter, a driver from week 2 who had suggested we join his family for an asado at his house in Puerto Aysén. (TRIVIA ALERT! ‘Aysén’ allegedly gained its name after Darwin reached there in The Beagle and declared that it was ‘where the ice ends’. Ice end. Aysén. Brilliant.)  Never ones to pass up the invitation for delicious repas, we duly took the short hitch from last Sunday’s stopping point of Coyhaique and enjoyed a marvellous feast. There was also the rather unfortunate incident of the turtle that looked asleep but in fact was not – but the less said about that the better.

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It has taken us until this point to discover something all travellers in South America learn in due course: that it is to be expected that, at one stage or another, one will meet most of the youthful population of Israel. They are everywhere! We have found out that it is a very established route for Israelis to travel out here after finishing their compulsory army service, and several of our drivers mentioned it to us before any personal connection.  We have subsequently experienced the phenomenon of the ‘joint hitch’ – according to unwritten hitching etiquette, if there is more than one group of hitchhikers on the road then they should be spaced at appropriate distances, but it is possible that drivers might pick up more than one group at once. This has helped temper our natural feelings of rivalry. Mostly.

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Thankfully far away from Chile’s earthquake in the north on Wednesday, we crossed the border back into Argentina. Lifts remained quick to come by, and on Thursday we easily made our way to spend a couple of days with our next friend-of-a-friend connection Miguel, in Lago Puelo. Here we were able to do some laundry, learn more about the intricacies of the social custom of drinking maté, and laugh at Steve getting slobbered on by the gigantic but docile mutt Tasha.

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Now we have meandered north a little further and have chosen the lakeside spot of Bariloche for our weekend stop. We are staying in a little hostel opposite the beautiful cathedral and but a quick stroll from the lake, and Bariloche itself is renowned for its delicious chocolate. Not a bad spot to be celebrating one’s birthday.

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Jo has decided that her challenge for the following week is to attempt Spanish verb conjugation. We have been confidently sticking to the present tense, getting pretty good at it even if we do say so ourselves, but it turns out that confusion can be caused if in fact we are referring to an event in the past or future. Steve, however, avers that he likes the present tense and feels no particular need to move on.

Wondering what to have for dessert in Bariloche? Look no further.

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Total number of lifts: 24

Week Three distance travelled: 827km
Total distance travelled: 3460km

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