Leaving Puyehue National Park we headed towards Villa La Angostura, which would be our first stop in Argentina. The drive to the border went through a forest of dead trees, reminding us of the magnificent force of the mother nature. The forest got killed during an eruption of one the volcanoes in the area.
The border between Chile and Argentina lies in the Andes mountains, and Lance was getting to the mountain pass without any problems… and we easily checked out of Chile, because Lance is a Chilean registered car.
On our way we picked up an Argentinian backpacker, who was hitchhiking his way back to his family in Argentina for Christmas. We also got to taste the Mate tea for the first time! It is a bitter and grassy tea loved by the Argentinians, and it was grassy… not our favorite, and we agreed that we don´t have to learn to drink it. Stopped at the Aduana in Argentina to import Lance, and before being allowed to enter Argentina a custom employee go through the vehicle to check for any fresh vegetables, fruits and meat.
Everything was approved by the custom employee and we were ready to leave. But Lance could not start. He was completely dead, he didn’t even try. I tried calling for help in this retro phone booth – but didn’t really have friend nearby to call.
Instead a policeman helped and together we pushed Lance, and got him going again. We stopped in Villa La Angostura, and again Lance could not start. We looked for a mechanic, but the closest one was in Bariloche. Our first plan was to stay two days in Villa La Angostura, because it is less touristy than Bariloche and do some hiking in the area, but since Lance was having a really hard time starting, we decided to go to Bariloche.
It was already late when we got to Bariloche, so there as no way we would find an mechanic today. It would have to wait until tomorrow. We also had to find a place, where we could park for the night. It was not just a matter of finding a place to park, but also a place where we could “bump start” Lance, if he wouldn’t start the following day. A beach in the outskirts of Bariloche was marked on www.ioverlander.com and after making a couple of rounds on the parking lot, we found the RIGHT place to park. What a great spot overlooking the Nahuel Huapi Lake, which is a glacial relic over 100 km long, and the centerpiece of the National Park with the same name.
A lot of kite surfers on the lake
The next morning Esben hit the starter engine with a hammer while I turned the ignition key, and Lance started all by himself. Today is the 22th of December and we were really hoping that the mechanic had not started his Christmas vacation. We went to a recommended Toyota mechanic, but he couldn’t help, because the starter problem was an electrical problem. He recommended an electrical mechanic, and Lance spend the hole day in his garage getting a few new parts for the starter engine. Now he is like new – almost .
So how do we kill time, when we can’t be together with Lance? We went to the local gym to lift weights. We really try to do strength training at least ones a week in a gym or using our TRX suspension. Visiting a local gym just makes it so much better, and at the end we can get a warm shower. Getting a warm shower once a week is amazing – that is luxury. The standard price for a day in a gym is 8-9 USD (50 DDK) per person in Argentina or Chile. We also went for a walk in town, which is free if you don’t buy anything, and that can be hard sometimes.
Getting the Christmas-feeling in Bariloche
Hanging out with Santa
Another great idea to kill time is to visit a museum. So we visited a small museum with dinosaur bones and fossils. Still wishing for more text in English, because our Spanish is still not good enough to read informal text in Spanish. Still we try to get the best out of it, and usually we take pictures of some of the explanation sign for later translate, when we have WiFi.
This is a real dinosaur bone, it is the femur bone – I guess this dinosaur was a lot bigger than me
Once again we saw a model of the extinct megatoothed shark (C. megalodon), which is primarily known from its fossil teeth and vertebrae (left pictures). This giant shark reached a total length of more than 16 meters (52 feets) and maybe up to 20.3 meters (67 feet) in total length and could reach a weight of 103 metric tons. Check out the size in this earlier post from La Paz, Mexico “From mining to swimming with whale sharks”. The right picture is the cranium of an extinct giant bear.
Now that Lance were fixed, it was time to celebrate and feel that is was finally Christmas. In Denmark CHRISTMAS = FOOD. So we decided to celebrate Christmas just the two of us on the 23rd of December.
So we treated ourselves with a visit to a steakhouse called “Alto el Fuego”
The main dish
Love the Argentinian steaks – especially the size
Back in the van we had dessert, 500 grams of marzipan bread. In Denmark no Christmas without marzipan and chocolate. This is how big 500 grams of marzipan bread looks like, and notice how happy Esben is.
The next morning it was Christmas the 24th of December – yes, we celebrate Christmas in the evening on the 24th of December. See you for the Christmas days in the next post. Oh, one more thing. We love chocolate and Bariloche is known for its myriad of chocolate shops. What a better place to spend Christmas? That was until we saw the prices for the chocolate. To make a comparison we took this pictures of a glass of Nutella (only 350 g) at the price of 160 arg. pesos which is 9 USD or 54 DDK. In Denmark the price of the same size Nutella is 32.5 DDK (5 USD). That was pretty much how expensive everything else was, EXCEPT for meat – so we just bought meat instead of chocolate for Christmas.