31.05.2010 - 31.05.2010
5/31- A nickname for this region that shows up on wine labels, etc., this Lake District of northern Patagonia could not be more visually astounding. The blue and sometimes green water, glaciar runoff, must be seen in person, or you would otherwise think it was Photoshopped.
Our first impressions of San Carlos de Bariloche were: gorgeous fall colors with snow-capped mountains as a backdrop, crisp air tempered with bright, warm sun, green succulent plants, Andes mountains mirrored in Lake Nahuel Huapi’s peaceful water… Colorado meets Oregon meets northern Spain…
New Zealand emphasized that the only slight difference was that the steering wheel and side of the road are opposite the US. Here, we had to discover that the absence of stop signs and stop lights mean pedestrians have the right of way, even when a pack of teenagers dressed in black dart across highways with a 60kph speed limit. (Thank God Leigh had her afternoon tea and saw them in time, AND that our seatbelts and brakes work as intended!) Perhaps this forgives her for almost driving over a cliff when she tried to make a 3-point turn about with a sticky reverse gear. I had to change my drawers, but in the end we made it here to share with you how not to drive in Patagonia. Every intersection “negotiation” provoked a reminder to Leigh not to “roll the car.” The Hertz lady made it abundantly clear that we would be covered for pretty much anything except for rolling the car. T-bone my side: I don’t care; just don’t roll the car.
We checked into our condo, complete with a spectacular panoramic lake and mountain view, brand new everything, full kitchen, etc., and an easy walk to downtown, the lake, and right next door to a cheese shop, pastry shop and Wifi café. Our reservation on Hostalworld.com, what we thought was going to be a hostel at $25/ night, was evidently incorrectly published by the hostel owner who also owned the condo. After we clarified the confusion over the phone, since Lucía who checked us in handles everything but money, we couldn’t agree more that we were getting an incredible deal.
We drove around the biggest lake of the 7 Lakes District and caught a glimpse of the local Loch Ness appear, bend and submerge again. According to an indigenous man carving bamboo sticks, not even the locals know what it is. We stopped at a “salon de té” for yerba mate.