Archive for February, 2009

Sealions, sun and…suerte?

Posted: February 28, 2009 by Fei An in South America
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This amazing busride ended in Puerto Madryn. Tourists come here to walk through a million of penguins and to spot the killer wales (Willies) surfing on the beach, trying to gather their dinner (little baby sea lions). You only get to see this by joining an awful touristy tour by bus, paying the amount of 5 overnights in a good hostel. But we thought that getting to see real orcas would be worth it! Unfortunately we weren’t one of those lucky tourists who got to see the wales – luckily we hadn’t been counting on having so much luck, as we never have it. Although we heard that the day before people had seen the wales on the beach…

But the penguins were really funny… And Fei fell in love with the huge, fat sea elephants… And we saw some sea lions kissing each other, which was the cutest thing you’ve ever seen… And we spent about 8 out of the 10 hour bus tour inside the bus…

Besides all the interesting fauna the national park has some amazing beaches where many Argentinians spend their holidays.
While we were enjoying some more heat, we started wondering where the source of this heat comes from. Several people told us that the sunrise in Puerto Madryn is really spectacular. So we decided to set our alarms at 5:45 am and today we woke up early to see the sun rinsing out of the blue sea.

Because on the east coast of Argentina it’s supposed to be rising out of the sea, right?
For some reason today it didn’t.
We kept waiting and in the meanwhile we watched the beautiful dark clouds covering the whole sky while it was getting later and lighter. Fei yelled hopefully that she thought she saw some red, but this red she saw didn’t even get close to orange and we could barely discover it. There was no red colored sky at all. And no sun rising from nowhere.

I can’t think any classes during high school where they might have taught me how the sunrise exactly works, but the fact is that the 3 of us missed it. After one hour waiting in the freezing cold the sky was all bright and shiny without the sun having risen out of the sea.

Let’s ignore the fact that, when we turned our heads in the opposite direction, the sky was beautifully purple/red colored (what had happened over there?).

We decided to give up and return to our hostel were a delicious breakfast (wonderful homemade pie and sort of fresh cafe con leche) was waiting for us. At least that was worth waking up for…

The show must go on!

Posted: February 28, 2009 by Fei An in South America, Uncategorized
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But I really wish it didn’t this time! Yes, it’s bustrouble time again! After all the trouble we’d had lately I really thought we would be lucky for once. Or actually, it has nothing to do with luck, I was more wishing we didn’t have bad luck! But apparently we must have done something really nasty in our former lives which gave us some bad karma in this one!

It went almost right: we checked out on time, didn’t forget anything and stood waiting for the bus already half an hour before departure time. But what do you do if the bus is late? Right, you ask the people from the bus station if the bus is already on its way. And what do you do when those people tell you this is not the right bus station? Right, first all the suntan disappears from your face and then you start hurrying the hell out of you to see if the bus is maybe, possibly, PLEASE still be waiting or delayed! How I wish I was in Bolivia now where busses run late standard half an hour! But que pena, que pena, the bus was gone. This asked for action again, that is, chasing the bus in a taxi and trying to reach the bus driver to stop the bloody vehicle! And after 10 minutes and 22 pesos lighter we caught it! With 3 angry bus drivers waiting for us outside and even more angry passengers inside we had the best busride in Argentina so far! Red wine and whisky included!

Ain’t no mountain high enough!

Posted: February 28, 2009 by Fei An in South America, Uncategorized
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After this sporty venture, it was time for a cool down. Destination: Bariloche, north Patagonia. An expensive, highly touristy little ski-town where the uptown Latinos come during winter. Right now it’s summer, that means temperatures between 15 and 20 degrees and a lot of sun. The city is surrounded by  mountains and lakes and offer great views after a heavy hike…
We started this very adventurous day by a hitch hike in the back of a jeep. Going with the flow, as they say, we had no idea where we were going and we didn’t really care either; we wanted excitement. They dropped us at a little village in the valley surrounded by high mountains.

We thought that getting to the top of the mountains by an elevator full of happy families and elderly people didn’t really fit our adventure image. So Ellen was suggesting to climb the mountain by ourselves. For that suggestion, she received two angry faces: Fei and Rian weren’t really into that since the road to the top seemed endless, but they did like the idea of hike. After all, we found out that there was a hike to the very top of the mountain, that would only take one hour and a half! Sweet, peace of cake we thought!

Full of energy we started walking, walking, taking some photos, and a bit more walking. Following the route of our map, it didn’t take very long before we arrived at point 2 of 14. We never got to point 3…

This is how the story goes: at point 2 we could chose two directions. We of course decided to continue being adventurous and chose the wrong direction. This all with protest of Rian, who turned out to be right soon enough, but two donkeys against one human always win… After 20 minutes climbing we found out that we couldn’t get any further and we had to go all the way back to point 2.

And as donkeys never bump their head twice, we thought it would be better to follow our map if we really wanted to arrive at our destination without having to spend the night in a bear’s belly.  Although they say that the Dutch found out the map and usually are very good at reading them, we made it to lose track again without noticing. When we still hadn’t arrived at point 3 after about an hour, we discovered that we were probably lost…again…

But we made it! Through bushes and sandy hills Charly’s Angels (as our hitch truck driver called us) got to the top and planted their flag. And even though the whole 4 hour walk went with a lot of whinying, it was all forgotten when we achieved our goal! The way back went a lot smoother in a cabin – after paying 35 Pesos and joined by those earlier mentioned happy families – and we slept like three little angels that night.

Bikesandwine in Mendoza

Posted: February 28, 2009 by Fei An in South America, Uncategorized
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Mendoza, famous for its wine. An alternative way to discover the huge bodegas that fill the city’s beautiful landscape is by bike. Like real Dutchies we didn’t have to think twice! The weather was extremely good. Hot. 40 degrees. Great weather for biking and wineing. Compared to Santa Cruz and Sao Paulo the sun attack of Mendoza seemed a joke, but coming from cold and icy Holland, Rian had a much harder time fighting the heat. So the only thing she got to taste during the trip was water and dried figs (so her sugarlevel would go up) while Fei and Ellen instead were enjoying the wonderful rosado the area had to offer and in the meanwhile also ate half of Rians fig portion (we swear, she didn’t like it anyway!). It was a truly cool experience to see the source of some Dutch supermarket wines but also painful to see how much we usually pay for it…

Bad luck bus

Posted: February 22, 2009 by Fei An in South America
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Leaving behind all the the bus trouble in Brazil – Fei sleeping trough her bus stop while Ellen was desperately running around the terminal, asking all the Chinese looking people if they had seen her; practicing our theater skills by pretending we really thought our departure time was at 16:30 instead of 15:30 when we arrived late at the bus station – we wanted to start fresh in Argentina.

That was a bit optimistic…

To take revenge on Fei, Ellens bus decided to arrive about 10 hours late to let Fei know how it feels to wait in desperation. While waiting, Fei and Rian thought it would be practical to buy bus tickets for the next day to Mendoza. Luckily, after finding out that most of the buses where already fully booked, a very young and helpful Gaucho arranged some tickets for us. Thank god, we could leave tomorrow!!

That was a bit optimistic…

Besides being young and helpful, unfortunately he was also very clumsy… While he was busy talking to his MSN-boyfriend, he put the wrong date on our bus ticket. When we arrived the next day, ready and steady for a 20 hour bus trip, we found out that we were ought to leave the day before. And of course the boy was gone.

We cried and begged – because that helps in Brazil – but they didn’t fall for our drama in Argentina. Or was it because this time there was a woman ‘helping’ us? Anyway, people here seem to be more interested in MSN Messenger service than customer service.

Even doing the whole show again in front of a guy didn’t help us this time. We had to buy new tickets to be on crappy seats at 22:00 o’clock that evening. Remembering the nice road stations in Brazil we forgot about all the stress and started to get excited for our first bus stop dinner.

That was way too optimistic!

The next day we couldn’t get off the bus anymore as we were all starved and dried out. The bus didn’t stop once. Luckily, Mendoza is famous for wine and good food, so we decided that we deserved a huge lunch. Dried out, we already ordered a bottle of good wine and Ellen was drunk in 10 minutes. It was the best lunch ever.

We learned our lesson and the next bus trip we were fully equipped with six bags full of groceries. While enjoying our own dinner at about 21:00, the conductor started to hand out complete meals. This time we left the bus with a filled stomach so we could handle the temperature shock in Patagonia.