Thursday, February 12, 2009

Argentine Adventures, Part 2

The day we drove to Bariloche, Der wasn't feeling well at all. He had gotten the flu overnight and was dealing with the chills, a fever and bad muscle aches, but he managed to get us there safely. He laid down for a while and I just hung out with the kids at the cabin. They had a few things to play with outside so Kirsi was happy. When Der woke up, he was feeling worse. His muscles were so sore. So other than get to Bariloche that first day, we didn't do anything in the hopes of Der getting better. The next day, he felt even worse. He was having problems breathing and he was so sore he could hardly move. We waited until about noon before deciding to go to the clinic. Of course we had to wait for quite a while but we finally got in. The doctor did a bunch of checks, including an EKG and X-rays of Der's chest and abdomen. Everything came back normal and she couldn't find any explanation for the pain getting worse so she spoke to a cardiologist. He recommended getting a blood test and and an ECG done to make sure the heart was functioning normally. By this time, we had already been there around 3 hours and the kids were doing well but we didn't know for how long. Der was sure it wasn't his heart so he just got the doctor to prescribe him some painkillers. He took one, and he went straight to sleep once we got back to the cabins. He woke up a couple hours later and he was perfectly fine. It was night and day! He figures it must have been being cramped in the plane for so long and then driving a lot for 2 days that did it. He did have the flu but the muscle aches must have been from the cramped quarters for so long.

So, we decided to go for a drive. The Circuito Chico is a 65-km road that heads west of Bariloche and drives along Nahuel Huapi Lake and then Perito Moreno Lake. The scenery is beautiful along the drive so we enjoyed ourselves a lot. We also went to Colonia Suiza, the first Swiss settlement in the area. It was a tiny little village with a lot of tourist amenities - lots of places to eat, handicrafts, homemade ice cream and outdoor activities. What we found interesting were the water canals that they had designed to bring water into the village from the nearby lakes - very neat.

Kirsi at a viewpoint along Lago Nahuel Huapi:

The next day, we went into the town of Bariloche to get a map of the area and ask some questions before heading out on our trip to the Valdes Peninsula. The town square (or "plaza") is very open and it allows to see all the alpine-style architecture of the buildings. At the plaza, there were several people with Saint Bernard dogs and puppies. They were there to offer tourists a chance to get their pictures taken with the dogs, for a fee of course. I had never seen a Saint Bernard in person before - they seem to be big, loveable dogs.
Plaza in Bariloche:

One thing we noticed in Bariloche was the presence of trolls. You see pictures of them everywhere - in stores, in our cabin, books about them. I asked the lady who ran the Mont Blanc about them. They call them "duendes" and they're supposed to be in the woods all around Bariloche. Apparently, they are good beings and will help you if you encounter one. They have duendes for different things - health, luck, protection, etc. I asked her if she had ever seen one and she said, "No, and I hope never to! I don't mind that they exist, but I don't need to see one for myself." That's pretty much how I feel about ghosts. Here's a wood carving of one in the plaza:

That afternoon, we found a place where we could do a horseback ride (and where they'd let one of us on the horse with Kirsi). We drove up to Cerro Catedral, which is the big ski resort at Bariloche in the winter. There, they offered horseback riding so we opted for a half-hour ride with both kids. It was great to get back on a horse; that's one thing that Kirsi has gotten us into. Since she loves horses so much, we've ridden more than we ever would have. Once we climbed up the hill we had a beautiful view of the lake - it was gorgeous. We could have gone for longer but we decided to keep it short since it was Aidan's first ride. Der took him and said that for the first half, he stayed bone straight and didn't want to move but then he relaxed and started taking in all the surroundings.

Here's Aidan and Der getting on the horse for the first time:

Kirsi and me on our horse:

We found a cute little handicraft store that had some beautiful products. I could have spent forever and lots of money in there but we chose a couple things that we liked and bought them as our souvenirs of the Patagonia. Next door they had a little cafe that is well known in that area, Abuela Goye, so we had a fantastic sandwich there. They also had homemade ice cream and chocolates.

We started off the next morning very early. The trip to the Valdes Peninsula was going to be at least 11 hours so we wanted to make good time early on. We drove south through beautiful scenery towards the little town of El Bolson. Here are a couple pictures of what we saw:

It truly was beautiful to drive through there but it took a lot longer than we had anticipated - windy mountain roads will do that to you. It took us about 4 or 5 hours to get to a little dusty town called Tecka. Why do I mention it then? It was a big landmark for us because that's where we stopped driving south through the mountains and started heading east through the Patagonian steppe.

Der took this picture not far from Esquel, on the way to Tecka (I think). There was no one coming at all so he laid down on the highway to get this shot!

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