Bariloche Travel Blog› entry 30 of 115 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.