wk2, entry 1 - End of Bariloche

Bariloche Travel Blog

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Argentina - what a great place.  The magic of Buenos Aires.  The tranquility of Bariloche.  Such a pleasant dichotomy.  It seems Argentina is full of these, a running theme.

I am in love with Buenos Aires, but a break from city life was just what the doctor ordered, though it has been almost a week now (I’m writing this on Friday and back-dating it.  It’s been a crazy week and I am just now getting around to it).   

The outdoor activities in Bariloche are phenomenal - hiking, biking, rock climbing (though I couldn’t find any, darn it), skiing, paragliding, and so much more.  The hiking was such an adventure and learning experience, and the biking trip an equally interesting experience.  But by far the best part of the trip was the people.  Mostly not even Argentines.  I met an international hodge-podge of people from New Zealand, Australia, England, United States, India, Scotland, and bunches more that I’ve forgotten.  I met people constantly, each one so unique, each with fascinating differences, each expanding my world-view a little farther.  I have never been exposed to so many people from so many different places, each with their own story; I loved hearing everyone’s story.  It is like a ritual between the traveling hostel-hoppers.  You meet.  (Everyone is so open and friendly).  You chit-chat.  (Animated conversation).  You very soon go into why you’re here, how long you’re here, where you’re headed, and the general theme of your trip.  (A year off school, quit my job, studying, working, etcetera). 

Of the sample I met, the median age was mid-20’s, with a few people 19-21, and a few in their 30’s.  I also met a very interesting Argentine who lived in Bariloche named Miguel who worked in the hostel.  By the end of the trip I was calling him my big brother, because he liked to give me a hard time and make me learn, especially when speaking Spanish.  If I didn’t understand something, he would be gruff, a tough love kinda guy, loved him.  I think he was in his mid-20’s.  A group of us - Miguel, Dama and Mica (two American girls), and Erandi (a Mexican girl) - had a very interesting political conversation about the Bush administration and Venezuela.  Miguel said that Venezuela was doing so great because its oil reserves keep Bush at bay.  To Miguel, it’s all about oil:  oil to run the assault-tanks, the military vehicles, people’s cars, and even the economy.  His biggest problem with the US government was that he felt they could attack any country at any time, whenever they felt like it.  To him, that is the most important thing that needs to stop.  I agreed with him on this point, but disagreed with him somewhat on the Venezuela issue.  I don’t think Venezuela’s oil grants Chávez immunity to the extent that Miguel thinks it does.  I that Chávez’s middle finger to the states is just a way of getting power from the people.  Like Peron capitalizing on the support of the workers, Chávez uses hatred of the US to promote nationalism and unity in support of him to fight the “evils of the US” (though I’m not saying the US is blameless for the condition of Latin America).

The other great experience of this trip was that of traveling solo.  I have never done any significant traveling on my own before.  What an experience!  I was a little intimidated at times, but the freedom and independence that I felt was extraordinary.  After the beginning of the trip I felt capable and gained confidence in myself - a great opportunity for growth.  I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, with no companions to hold me back (except for temporary ones that I sometimes-regrettably picked up along the way).  I felt the responsibility, that how my weekend was going to go was completely dependent on me, and I loved it!  I often joke that I’m not a “real” person yet, just a student.  On my solo trip to Bariloche, I felt like a real person.  

Another big perk of traveling solo is that you can meet new people very easily and very often, IF you want.  If you don’t want to and would rather just be by yourself, you can that too, ah, how great!!  On the ride back to Buenos Aires Sunday night to Monday afternoon, Julio sat next to me.  Conversation started easily.  He is a member of a leftist political party and was in Neúquen (a town close to Bariloche) that weekend for a party convention.  “Oh, leftist eh?  You support Kirchner [the current President] then?”  He chuckled.  Turns out he’s a card-carrying Trotskyite communist.  “Oh, that’s cool.”  Haha.  Who woulda thunk?  His cell phone beeped, he looked at it and started laughing.  “Ah, la chica,” he says.  So you have a novia?  No, she’s not my girlfriend because she’s engaged to another guy, but I’m seeing her - in fact, she spends more time with me than she does with her fiancé. 

Oh the people you meet, the places you see, the food you eat (mmmm Bariloche is famous for its chocolate).  Ciao!  Love you guys,  -Derek

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photo by: Amandaamaral1