In the past 24 hours I have discovered two new things that I love related to traveling:
1. Long-distance buses.
When I bought my Via Bariloche bus ticket a couple days ago, I chose a seat on the top level. I had always envied the people sitting on the top level of buses, planes, or trains, and had never done it before. So I climbed up the stairs and into my comfortable seat on the second level of the bus with a huge smile on my face. As I walked into the bathroom of the bus, I thought that it was another first for me: the first time I had gone to the bathroom in a land-traveling vehicle… but then I remembered driving down to State last year… (That’s for any cross country gals reading this post.)
The 18-hour bus ride seemed like it took less than five. I got a full night’s sleep, and whereas I usually wake up after taking a redeye groggy and feeling like I haven’t slept at all, I felt like I had just woken up after a night in a bed. I think I actually even slept eight hours without waking up. I read Eva Luna (in Spanish), half-watched three bad movies and fully watched Robinhood, and looked out the window. By the end of the trip, my window had various splotches on it from where I had pressed my forehead against the window to observe the Argentinean landscape go by. I saw fields of sunflowers, mostly without petals and faces towards the ground, but with a few still looking up towards the sky; miles and miles of cropland or grazing land; tiny towns, many with buildings advertising “Parilla” (meat restaurant, I think) to all who drove by; and near the end of the journey, rolling desert hills with low fertile pockets interspersed.
I arrived in Bariloche, and without a problem took a taxi to my hostel. Not only is this place cheaper than anywhere else that I could stay, but it is so much more fun. I’m in a dorm room with five other people, but I have my own little closet box and I bought a lock downtown to close it. There’s a fully-stocked kitchen for anyone’s use, and right now I am sitting in the dining hall listening to Manu Chao with some other young people too. There’s a garden with a hammock outside, where asados take place once a week. I’ve already met one guy from Buenos Aires, and there are so many other people to meet here tonight. Everyone here must have interesting travel stories, and I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect place when I need to find hiking buddies for the next three days. I’m making a vow now to stay in as many of these hostels as possible before I get too old and it’s creepy to stay in youth hostels…
Bariloche is lovely, located right on the banks of a lake that’s surrounded by snow-capped rocky mountains. There’s a lot of chocolate, outdoors gear, and knitted items, which makes it an awesome place for window shopping. Now, I think I’ll go out and actually try some chocolate instead of just drooling over it through the window!