Slappy Birthday

Bariloche Travel Blog

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Me, in a cap. But how much hair now resides beneath that cap dear readers? How much indeed...

When I was about 19 and my brother 29, My auntie Mavis and her man friend Maurice came to visit us in Rochdale. Maurice was (and still is as far as I know) a barber of many years´ experience and so, fearing for our bonces in light of our father´s bald pate, my brother and I took turns to kneel before him as if he were some kind of hairdressing royalty. After a brief (yet thorough) scalp examination, Maurice pronounced, to the relief of all concerned, that there was no chance we were going to lose our hair.

Fast forward 10 years and in my brother´s case, Maurice´s prediction has turned out to be correct; at the age of 39, he still has a generous helping of strawberry blonde hair.

Mi Amigo German (pronounced hairman) from BA bangs out a tune in the hostel, Condor Andino, which I would recommend.
However, when I looked into a mirror in Bariloche on my 29th birthday, it was to witness a very different story. I realised that the time had finally come to admit to myself and the world that Maurice was not, after all, a folicular Nostradamus for the 21st Century. This is because, after a haircut in Cordoba last week, it´s pretty clear that my hairline is currently retreating faster than the polar ice caps, leaving behind a central peak that Yoko Ono would be proud to call her own.

Yes I´m beginning to look rather too much like the current model Alan Shearer than I would care to. My next visit to the barber shop may well be the one where I have to ask for them to shave off "The Lot.

A random mountain reflected in a random lake in the Nahuel Huapi National Park. Nice innit?
" Of course, if I do take this drastic option I´ll also have to cultivate a decent crop of manly stubble on my face to compensate for the hair that has vacated the top of my head. When this look is complete, there are two ways it can go; either "cool and sexy" or simply "a bit weird looking." I´m pretty certain, with my luck, I know which of these I will attain.            

Other than the scalp situation, my birthday was thoroughly enjoyable. I spent it with two friendly lads from Buenos Aires who were holidaying in and around Bariloche for a week or two. Aided by plenty of booze: happy hour Cosmopolitans and expensive English-style bitter from an Irish pub, we managed to bridge the language barrier sufficiently well enough to chat about films, football, travelling and even a bit of international politics.

Lago Nahuel Huapi snapped at sunset from the stony beach at Bariloche.
 Meeting people like this at the right time is the kind of happy accident that you get when staying in hostels sometimes.

It felt nice to be able to, in general, get my message across in Spanish and comprehend about 70% of what they were saying. The Buenos Aires accent is thick, fast and consequently, difficult to understand. However, with a bit of patience we managed pretty well, a fact which, I´m not ashamed of admitting, I´m actually a bit smug about. Thinking back to the difficulties we had getting ourselves understood in our first few weeks in Ecuador, I´m bloody pleased with myself that I´ve perservered, eventually learning enough to talk socially with the locals without having to refer to the Spanish/English dictionary every ten seconds.

Me with a section of the black glacier. You can maybe see why I thought it was all rock at first.
 

Bariloche itself is the type of place that people imagine when they think about an archetypal picture postcard town. In reality of course it´s jammed with holidaymakers from the capital as well as the ubiquitous backpackers like myself. This doesn´t really matter to me though; touristy or not, I like the place. It´s situated on the edge of a beautifully blue lake rimmed by mountains and serves as a jumping off point for a number of national parks that cover this part of the Andes. The Argentine lads and I visited nearby Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi on three different day trips to do some walking. The scenery is spectacular and both cheap and easy to access with gorgeous turquoise glacial lakes the order of the day.

The highlight of the three trips was undoubtedly a visit to the Black Glacier (Glaciar Negro) which is a behemoth of ice impregnated with so much grit and sand that it looks like a strange type of black rock - hence the name. As I was standing watching the mini bergs floating around its icy lake, listening to the crunch and crack of the melting ice, I was glad that I was leaving city civilisation behind for a while for this journey south. Patagonia is a name that has always rung with a hint of mystery for me and, although there are thousands of tourists on the same trail, it doesn´t bother me. It´s difficult to explain, but this part of the journey just feels right and I´m genuinely excited about covering the vast wilderness that marks the way to the foot of this great continent.                       

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Me, in a cap. But how much hair no…
Me, in a cap. But how much hair n…
Mi Amigo German (pronounced hairma…
Mi Amigo German (pronounced hairm…
A random mountain reflected in a r…
A random mountain reflected in a …
Lago Nahuel Huapi snapped at sunse…
Lago Nahuel Huapi snapped at suns…
Me with a section of the black gla…
Me with a section of the black gl…
Bariloche
photo by: Amandaamaral1