After our wildlife adventure on the Valdes Peninsula and Atlantic coast, we headed back through the Patagonia towards the mountains. We would have liked to only drive 6 or 7 hours and then have a break but there just wasn't anywhere to stop. There was a hotel about 5 hours in but we wanted to get further along than that. So, we just decided to do it all again. Yep, another 13-hour-drive ahead of us.
It went really well and the kids were really good too. We got to Esquel, which is the beginning of the Andes once again - this was after crossing the Patagonian steppe. About half an hour north of Esquel, we heard a funny noise. We pulled over and discovered that one of our tires had blown. Nice. The good thing was that we were only half an hour out of town and it was about 2:30 in the afternoon on Saturday so we should be able to get the work done. So, Der changed the tire and off we went back to Esquel to get the tire changed. I learned that a place that deals in tires is called a "gomeria" so we went off in the search of one. The first two places that we found were closed but thankfully, a Bridgestone tire place was still open. They were able to fix it right away, phew! So, within 45 minutes we bought a new tire and had it on our car. The mechanic told us that the tires were all off balance - thanks dude at the gas station in Puerto Piramides - and that's what caused the tire to blow. So, he rebalanced all the tire pressures and sent us on our way. He was a super nice guy and we were so thankful to have found such grea service.
Since we were behind schedule, we decided to spend the night in El Bolson, which is south of Bariloche. Both Der and I liked the towns of Esquel and Bolson more than we like Bariloche, probably because they aren't as commercialized as Bariloche is. In Bolson, we found a hotel that took credit card and then wandered down to the plaza for an early supper and to see some action. We came across a neat handicraft store where we found a couple mate cups for Der and I; a neat souvenir from our Argentinean holidays.
Heading back into the mountains:
The next day, we headed back up to Bariloche. We decided to stay outside of Bariloche this time. We found a little, family-run hosteria west of Bariloche on the Perito Moreno Lake. It was really pretty and a gorgeous setting. Once we had lunch, we went to the Colonia Suiza to let Kirsi have one more ride on a horse. It's such a highlight for her and she had been so good through the whole vacation.
Here are pics of Kirsi getting ready for her ride:
Pics of the family on the grounds of the hosteria:
The next morning, we headed out rather early for the border. We wanted to get to customs before too many people were going through. Here are some pics of the lakes at sunrise:
A shot just outside of Villa La Angostura, still in Argentina:
It took a while to get through customs because there were quite a few people there already, at about 10:30 but we got through in about an hour. The best thing was that we had no problems at all. Then we got to the Chilean border:
Once we were in Chile, we stopped at a roadside stand and bought some delicious fresh raspberries and blueberries. YUM!! Then we got to the Ruta 5 and headed north. Der just drove and drove - he was amazing. The kids did really well - thank goodness for the portable DVD player! Aidan somehow did it too, lots of toys to entertain him. We stopped 3 times for about an hour each, just to give the kids a stretch and some time out of the car. We decided to get to Chillan and then see what happened. By the time we got there, it was already about 6:00 so we just decided to stop for supper and a stretch and then to head home. Yep, we drove for 18 hours that day but we made it home. We woke up the next morning in our own beds, which was really nice. It was a fantastic vacation, lots of driving but we saw so much.
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