As I mentioned in my last blog, this past week was "Spring Break"! The weeks leading up to spring break, it was quite amusing watching the common room of the IES building always alive with stressed out students planning to go to Rio, Chile and of course Patagonia. Now, attending school in Ohio, spring break has always meant "anywhere where that is warmer than 30 degrees", but since Buenos Aires is always 70 degrees or warmer, we figured we would do the opposite and fly to the mountains. So, on Friday straight from class my friends Nicole and Clare and I hopped on a plane and began our adventure though the breathtaking area of Patagonia.
The first hikers town we visited was El Chalten. We arrived in the village around 10 pm after a long bus ride though miles of pitch black and fog to then be dropped off on a street with 3 light posts and our eerily lit hostel. To us, it looked like we were a post- apocalyptic earth (Like population: us) we couldn't even see 5 feet in front of our noses. We thought we were being PUNKED, like where's Ashton Kutcher? Starving, we helplessly wandered down the ONE pitch black street with light posts to find one restaurant with lights on. Luckily it was the coolest place ever and we ate and didn't die (obviously) . The next morning, we awoke to gigantic mountains surrounding the city. Still in our pajamas we ran outside to take pictures and laugh at how mad we were the night before not knowing huge mountains were in front of us as we spewed frustration. We then spent the rest of the day on the beautiful trails of Mount Fitz Roy. (Ya know, the mountains on the Patagonia logo) where we ended up finding other IES students on the trails and hiking with them. I do have to say though, when we reached the highest point of the trails after hours of hiking, it was one of the most out-of-body experiences I have ever had- being absolutely dwarfed by such a incredibly majestic and mysterious mountain. El Chalten ended up being my favorite city and I have to say going to Mount Fitz Roy should be on everyone's bucket list.
Just like in El Chalten, we arrived in the dead of night- the only thing we could see was the light that illuminated the empty streets on the other side of the city. By this point, we just learned to ask ourselves "Where the heck are we", laugh, and scavenge for food (restaurants). We ended up finding the best food and coffee place called LibroBar, in the "Gnome Village" (don't ask) in the downtown where we shamelessly ate our next 2 meals- it was that good. The next morning, we decided to take a bus to the Perito Moreno Glacier, the largest growing glacier in the world- this too had an incredible dwarfing effect. We even saw ice breaking off the glacier and each time we actually felt the sonic boom vibrate our bodies. After a few hours looking at that hunk of ice we then returned to the city where we unthawed for the next few hours in our warm hostel loft with huge cups of tea in hand.
The journey to Puerto Natales Chile was a 5 hour bus drive through the country side of Argentina, the Andes Mountains and then through another 2 hours of countryside in Chile. We did get a few breaks when we went though immigration where we were on edge about getting detained over a small can of buffalo chicken that we were designed on eating on the trails- luckily they let us keep the chicken (and we are glad they did because it was good chicken) We then arrived into Puerto Natales, a little port town in southern Chile, where we quickly found out the Milidon (aka giant sloth) is their pride and joy and found in giant statue form all over the town. The first day we went into the famous Torres del Paine where we hiked and sent good vibes to the hardcore hikers doing the famous 11 day, W circuit though the mountains. After enough hiking, we ventured back where we encountered the magical guanacos. They are basically a llama and alpaca mix, so not really magical- but close enough. We happened to find a heard of them on our way back and had a quick selfie session and were on our way, we did take a few seconds to realize that we were standing on a mountain with guanacos- how much more Patagonia can you get? The final day of our adventure, we decided to spoil ourselves and book a boat adventure to go to the O'Higgens national park as well as the Serrano Glacier. On the journey to the glacier, or boat took us to see a flock of penguins, some sassy sea lions lounging in mountain caves and a few condors that flew overhead- see pictures below. Seeing the beautiful Patagonian sunrise on a boat, tasting Chilean whiskey and devouring a traditional Chilean asado while making some new Chilean friends was a perfect end to our Spring Break.
With a great weekend behind us, it's back to school for us IES students- work hard, play hard.