Hello from Chile! For the past few weeks we have been bouncing around the Argentinian and Chilean Lake Districts. We thought this was Patagonia, but it turns out the region the locals refer to as Patagonia is still farther south-sigh. This area is rotten with snow-capped volcanic peaks, shimmering lakes and little mountain lodges (refugios), it looks like Switzerland in South American. We even saw a St Bernard with a barrel of whiskey around his neck (ok, he was in town, and you had to pay a buck to take your picture with him, but he's here none the less). So, its pretty ugly here (I'll shut up about that and just show you the pictures).
So, we got to Bariloche, Argentina, a town about the size of Columbia, Missouri, except it sits on one of those amazing lakes at the bottom of those snow-capped volcanoes. It was really good to hit the trails and put one foot in front of the other again, and again, and again, and then repeat about a eleven hundred times, then realize we still had 10 kilometers to go, then figure out how far that is in miles and take a break. Here, as in the US, the national parks have brochures of all the hikes, with little descriptions and a difficulty scale. In the US a hike labeled easy is usually paved, flat and the length of a Walmart parking lot. An easy hike in Argentina is what most Americans would call a Bataan death march; straight up a loose dirt and boulder path for 12 kilometers (15,345.4 miles -pretty sure my math is right on that) followed by an even steeper scramble to the top.
On a side note: in the parts of Argentina and Chile that we have travelled to the stray dogs are lap dogs. I am not kidding. They want to snuggle and sleep next to you, but don't want to come home with you. They are living the life every dog dreams of-delicious left overs, unlimited snuggles and great weather. I am not joking when I say that when I encountered a domestic dog, I had thoughts of jumping the fences to free them or cut their leashes. This dog part has been Trischa, by the way-Chris didn't want his rep ruined.
Anyway, the hikes were challenging, and each day we'd limp back to the house where we were staying and enjoy wine, empanadas, and even a wide assortment of grilled meat (asada) that our host Adriana was nice enough to cook us one night. So, yeah, Bariloche is amazing and we WILL BE BACK. Next, we went on to Chiloe, an island in Chile known for seafood, penguins and Trauco, a sexually irresistible forest ogre. But now we are in Puerto Natales about to hike the infamous "W" Trek in Torres Del Paine...wish us luck :)
At the summit of most trails in Argentina and Chile, there are Refugios-rustic lodges that sell snacks and even have beds for multi-day trekkers. Some of them even sell gourmet cheeses and meats. This would totally weird me out in the US, but it's such a staple here and seems so normal.