Welcome to El Calafate. We are Broke.

December 21, 2013

Why do the ATMs not work in airports in Argentina? And then when you ask people working at the airports here, well, they just laugh at you. Darn. We have no cash. And Kathleen and Kim went up to the sandwich place 3 different times to buy a snack but really to exchange US dollars for pesos. The guy was pretty upset with them the last time. And supposedly it’s difficult to get cash in El Chaltén where we’re headed. So we think we might be camping out for 3 nights instead of 2 in case we don’t have enough cash for the hostel. Unless they take American dollars.

Okay, now we’re in a large van. Either the people in front of us or the people sitting behind us didn’t shower. Greeeeaattt. This will be a pleasant ride. Kathleen wishes she never got her nose fixed. She’s wondering whether it would be inappropriate to spray Febreeze around the van. Ahh, probably not a good idea…haha. This darn fly is driving me crazy. But I have to say, the view is amazing.

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It’s been quite the ride so far. Yesterday (December 20th) was a goodbye day. We woke up, though, and found out that a lot of people’s flights were delayed or cancelled. Ugh. That sucks. Never book Aerolíneas Argentinas. Our flight was via LAN and looked good to go the next day. After farewells to the friends we met, we then walked off the boat and said goodbye to all the staff. All those goodbyes were extremely hard. I had the time of my life on this journey to Antarctica and was not ready to leave. Maybe we could stay on the ship and hide in the bar table, was a thought that passed through my mind. But we had to go to continue on with the rest of our adventure.

We took a van with Barry, Hy-May, Melanie, Jody, Yee and her parents, Peg and someone else I hadn’t met to each of the places we were staying for the night. We were the last people to be dropped off at our hostel. We connected to the wi-fi, caught up on email we hadn’t read for 11 days and did our laundry. We, um, took up the whole laundry room at the hostel. Thank God for clean clothes. After doing that all morning and having a CLIF bar for lunch, we headed to town. We had plans to meet up with Yee, Melanie and Jody for dinner. After much back and forth between meeting at different places (seriously, what did people do before Smartphones and wi-fi?), we finally met with them and headed to El Almacen de Ramos General which was a sort of café. It was super cool! Amanda, little Amanda, and Nate had recommended the place. It had a bunch of black, cream, and white penguin beer mugs too.

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We were then joined by Steve and Gannon whose flight had been delayed several times. They were at the airport for hours that day, 2+ hours on the phone to get their flights sorted, and then planned to fly out this morning at 6 am. Steve and Gannon told us that John (flying back to Australia) couldn’t get his final flight home till Christmas Day). Barry and Hy-May joined us at the pub/café as well. It was a great time! We made the decision that night that in 3 years time, we are going to have a reunion in the Arctic on One Ocean.

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We then went back to our hostel, woke up in the morning and headed to the airport to catch our 9 am flight to El Calafate. And who did we see? Steve, Gannon, David’s parents, and John. Their flight was delayed again this morning, but they soon boarded. Note: if you ever travel to Argentina, buy travel insurance.

We flew to El Calafate and now back on the bus (where I started this blog post) to El Chaltén. I had a great view from my seat leaving Ushuaia.

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During the van ride, we just stopped at a café, bought a couple of fruit with US dollars in exchange for pesos. Yay. They had a couple of pictures of Butch Cassidy, the famous bank robber who had hid there for a month.

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After arriving in town, checking into a hostel where our French roommate kept staring at us (awkward), and eating a delicious dinner, we then came across a Chocolateria. Aww…yum! I love dark chocolate and it’s nice to try some more local Argentinean chocolate.

El Chaltén is very much geared towards backpackers and climbers. It’s small and you often run into the same people again. We described it as a sort of “hippy” town similar to one you would find in Oregon or Washington state. I’ve never seen so many hostels or hosterias before. Cute shops, places to eat and bakeries as well!

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