Daily Archives: 23 January, 2004

road trips

temuco (the little town with a big industrial corporate name) has thoughtfully located their main bus terminal on the outskirts of town, much to the benefit of taxi drivers, without regard to convenience for the traveller. my bus arrived early, so i stowed the gear below and stepped over to a kiosk for road snacks. turning back around i saw my bus had pulled out and was at the far end of the parking lot heading to the main road. shear frozen stone cold panic. i ran toward the bus. futile. i ran to the other side of the station. no access there. i ran around in circles for a second to to complete the full affect of crazed delerium before finally running out of breath to the manager at the bus company. i sputtered unintelligibly the gravity of my predicament: “my bus… arrived, no LEFT… my backpack has left me… the bus it no have me… i have coke… i arrive…no, return… bus it becomes away” they guy looked at me with an amused smile and handled the whole thing so perfectly… he called ahead… “gringo bla bla bla whatEVER”… i had put my bag on an earlier bus to the exact same place… osorno… just had to go retrieve it with the claim check from the agent once i arrived in osorno… okay… relaxed a bit… tried to mentally rescript my panicked rant into better spanish, just for the novelty of it andwandered around til my actual bus arrived…
on the platform, people-watching, i observed a man acting very strangely, talking to himself, slam dunking his empty bottle in the rubbish bun to much phantom fanfare (yes, he made crowd noises) but looking otherwise ordinary… of course, he was assigned as my copilot on the bus as far as valdivia… turns out he was drunk… i didn’t know what to make of him… information came slowly… he spoke in english, then spanish, but mostly english. i asked if he was still drunk from the night before and he told me that rum was only for breakfast… i asked if he was from chile and he showed me his green card… american… and only just 18 with an oxford vocabulary… over the course of the trip, between his sips of rum, i got the story… his father had looked to retire to a place he could afford on his meager pension, and somehow settled on chiloĆ©, an island in the south. the family had lived in portland, oregon before and sought out a place that had roughly the same climate. a bit rough on the kids to retire in another country while they are still high school aged. he was getting progressively louder and sloppier as we went along, so i was happy to see him go… appreciated the solitude even more…
picked up my pack in osorno as pre-arranged… what a relief… walked arund town before the bus arrived for bariloche… another hot, dry, less-than-charming town with a god-knows-why-there-exists a mega supermarket here… (i don’t want to know of the political favor behind it, but it must be a particularily noxious form of sleazy.) reminds me of the huge exxon staion and minimart in the middle of the vast unspoiled rift valley on the road to kilimanjaro…
the no man’s land between checking out of chile and checking into argentina was a stunning 15 km mountain pass of shear rocks faces, lakes and forest… such unspoiled landscapes are a treat… all borders should be like this… heading towards bariloche i got a glimpse of the rain shadow i heard about. one minute we’re passing through forest and then quickly comes dry, scrubby terrain of the pampa.. all the precipitation, usually in the form of snow, gets dumped on the western side of the andes leaving a dearth for the remaing land. such a rapid contrast. not unlike the backside of the sierras.
the bus popped a tire 30 km outside of bariloche and we were already slowed down by the border crossings, so we arrived at a crawl a few hours late just before 11pm. i hate arriving in a new town so late. limits options. after a few dead ends and outright disgrujntled doorslams i ended up at a B&B (hosteria)… the family run kind that puts chocolates on your pillow, origamis the towels and presents a new family member each and every time you enter… it took me a while to get used to the fact that they just weren’t going to accept spanish when they speakeded englishs so wells, so i acquiessed… i was able to catch the news from cnn…it was the business wrap up and larry king… not the news at all… ooh look, money train is on tnn dubbed in spanish with portuguese subtitles… didn’t bother with the planned rest day… met an american/austrian couple at the hosteria who gave me all the information i meant to look for the next day, so i woke up, shopped for supplies, caught the bus and was trailbound in the parque nacional nahuel huapi for the next 6 days…