February 28th, 2013
He’s a Gringo, but he Drives Well
As mentioned before, Lago Roca was awesome. We woke up this morning to an absolutely cloudless sky and amazing view of the Andes. We were sad to leave such a great spot, but we needed to head north up to El Chalten.
We drove out the usual brain rattling dirt road and headed to El Calafate to get our laundry, fill up with water and gas and run a few errands. Casimiro has a propane tank for the water heater and stove and Cris had told us we could get a replacement “almost anywhere” and we should replace it about half way through our trip.
We are half way through our trip. We have asked. We have not found anyone that has propone tanks. Clearly not a translation problem as mentioned before. See travel tip #1. Cris also said we had to get it in Argentina, because Chile has a different fitting standard. Ugh. We have 3 more chances before we go back into Chile. Might be some cold showers in Chile. This, I might add, could also result in some unpleasant Spanish……..and not from Susanne.
Speaking of Spanish, I have been immersed in a Spanish culture for 2 weeks now. Here is what I can say….my Spanish is still terrible. This resulted in the comment from Susanne the other day: “He’s a gringo, but he drives well.” Whew. At least I have that. Now, for all you Spanish speakers that might be hanging around me, let me warn you. I speak poorly, but I really do understand a surprising amount. So you had better say nice things about me.
Susanne took the helm in El Calafate and navigated us to El Chalten. She commented the other day that Casimiro lets out a sigh of relief when she drives because I push him so hard. There is about a 25 km/hr difference in our speeds, so I think she might be right.
El Chalten is the climbing capital of Argentina and has some of the premier climbs in the world. Most of the steep spires were not climbed until the 70’s. The town itself is much smaller than we expected and lies within the national park. Which is a bummer, because they seem to be totally opposed to letting you camp in the national park. The previous map we had indicated there was a “Camping Libre” site in the town. Negatory. No camping. Ugh.
We had lunch at a nice restaurant called Pangea (all you geo nerds will be excited by that), posted a few blogs and then checked out the town. We did a nice hike up to a couple of lookouts and enjoyed the view over the vast size of Lake Viedma and the town.
We scoped out whether it was viable to just park on a street and spend the night, but the vibe just wasn’t happening. No good place to enjoy a Malbec. So we drove out of town about 10km until we were out of the park and found a place next to the road. The view is killer. And the Malbec is good.
We have a big hike tomorrow up to the base of Mt Fitz Roy and I’m excited about that, but we’ll probably move north after that and get to a little more remote setting.
Ciao for now.