Argentina, Bariloche

17th June 2009 – 6th August 2009

I arrived in Buenos Aires with my pack on my back and my snowboard bag in my hand. After 1 week of checking out the sights of Buenos Aires, eating Asados, dancing tango and walking the very European streets, it was time to get the chapter underway.

Mandy and I caught the scenic 22 hour bus to Bariloche, the main town in Argentina’s Lake District, a place to be our home for the chapter. Bariloche is Argentina’s answer to Queenstown, Vale, Whistler. It thrives with Brazilian tourists during the winter for skiing and travellers from all over the world during the summer for hiking and sightseeing in the heavenly landscapes.

The plan for the Argentina chapter first came into fruition when Mandy and I were in Malaysia drinking red wine at a western restaurant and discussing what we were going to do after Thailand. And then with the red wine in hand, we talked of how awesome it would be to do a snowboard season in Argentina, drink cheap quality red wine, I learn Spanish and Mandy teach English. From what started as a conversation on a Saturday night in Penang, Malaysia, was real when we hopped out of the bus in Bariloche, our excitement greeted by the cool mountain air of the lakeside bus station.

After a week couch surfing with residents Nate and Alisa, flat hunting, Spanish school hunting, job hunting we found a room to rent with a hospitable Argentinean family in the centre of town. I started my month long Spanish course and Mandy started to find work.

But it was apparent that work was going to be hard to come by. Swine flu saw all the schools shut down so there was no teaching work. The only other jobs for foreigners were working in the hostels, but the Swine flu and the global recession was keeping the tourists away in droves, especially the Brazilians on which Bariloche relies so heavily on, so much so they even call it Braziloche. Add to this the lack of snow, made Bariloche feel like a ghost town at times compared to the bustling tourist town it usually is.

So after 3 weeks it was decision time, were we going to commit to living in Bariloche where the cost of living was rather high for South America, were we going to sign an apartment contract until the end of the year, were we going to buy a ridiculously priced ski pass for the mountain that had bugger all snow at the start of the season. Basically the decision made itself, we were unable to do any of the above without a good chance of both getting work, so we decided that once our month was up with our Argentinean host family we would leave and go to Paraguay where Mandy had worked 5 years previously and still had really good friends and work contacts.

Once the decision was made we were able to enjoy Bariloche without the constant worry about gaining work. As with anything, when you know you’re leaving you start to appreciate everything a lot more. I continued my Spanish school but cut it off after 3 weeks so that I could spend my last week enjoying the natural treasures that the region had to off. We went snowboarding a couple of times (to think I hauled my snowboard gear all the way over to Argentina for a couple of days of use), checked out one of the world’s top ten views from Cerro Campanario, walked up to Llao Llao hotel, made a trip to neighbouring mountain hippy town El Bolson. We were also able to spend lots of time hanging out with our Argentinean family and friends we had made.

Before we knew it, 5 weeks had passed and we were back at the Bariloche bus station on our chariot out of Argentina, but the chapter hadn’t finished yet. We spent a week in laid back mate drinking Uruguay visiting Colonia, Montevideo and Salto. Then we crossed the border back into Argentina to visit the world famous Igauzu Falls then had a nervous crossing at the Paraguayan border that marked the end of the Argentinean chapter and the start of the new chapter.

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One Response to “Argentina, Bariloche”

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  1. Mid week adventure « Hap Working The World - September 2, 2009

    […] Argentina, Bariloche […]

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