Argentina- a brief overview

Post travel notes:

The time has come for my Argentinian adventures to come to an end… It was a wonderful suprise to visit the country. I was not planning to visit until I saw the prices to fly in to Quito, Ecuador. I could buy a return flight into Argentina for the price of a one way ticket in Ecuador.

I am so happy I got to experience such a beautiful country with amazing people. Not once did I encounter any issues. Every person I met was really helpful. There were many times where people approached me with the biggest smile and wanting to know where I was from and if I liked their country.

I found Argentina to be very similar to Australia in the landscape, I guess this is due to the position on the earth. I really felt at home and being able to see the Southern Cross really helped, plus the many eucalyptus trees everywhere. The only thing that was missing wad the koalas and kangaroos.

I spent my first month working at a farm close to Oberà Missiones, the north east of Argentina in the subtropical rainforest. I learnt some new skills for gardening, building etc. I woukd still like to learn much more so someday I can build my own adobe home.

I really enjoy the outdoors, I am not a city person however it was great to see the city of Buenos Aires. I love how creative people are, thinking way outside the box that we have compressed our brain into. Nothing goes to waste, everything is recycled, everything is fixed.. I guess when you don’t have much you really need to think.

We are lucky and we have a great county with a government that works most of the time however after seeing such a different world there are many things we see as important and complain about when its really not nesacessary. I am not going to get into specifics here as im no proffessional on politics etc.

I don’t work here and I have more than enough money to get by but a lot of people struggle with small things. It’s like going back in the past when you see everyone building their own homes. Everyone is a builder, Plumber, electricion, anything they want to be. You dont need a ticket you can just do it if you want to. You can start a business, a restaurant in your home, sell things on the street. We need to pay to even sell at a market. Everything is so strict. When it comes to building and electricity the rules are good because peoples lives can be at risk. I have seen some really bad buildings and wiring.

I like how the people in Argentina are trying to work for themselves whereas back home its easier to work for big companies etc anc much mre difficult to start a profitable business to live.

Enough babble and back to the Country. There is a bit of everything in Argentina, Rainforest, Mountains, Lakes, Rivers, Deserts. Its so larfe and it would be easy to stay for one year.

I fell in love with Misiones, the land and the people where so friendly. While working at the farm we would often visit the neighbors to buy eggs or mest and we would sit with them drinking yerba mate. They really didnt have much, a small home and a few animals,. Most of the farmers in the region farmed tabcoo which they sold to the huge companies who gave them much less money for their croops than they deserved, but they eother took the money or had nothing..

I really loved Bariloche and fell in love, its filled with tourists which is the only downside however the city is relaxed and the many lakes anc mountains surrounding the city really top it off. If you have a bike most places are accessible, hoever its quite hilly in a few places. The lakes and rivers are so fresh and lear that you can see through to the bottom. The entrance to the mountain’s is just a short bus ride from the city and there are many bautiful refugios you can hike too which found high in the mountains beside some beautiful fresh water lakes. Tent camping and entrance is free, this really got me excited. There are also many trails from easy trails to the mkre difficult which are not marked and most of the walming is on rocks and scree slopes. Refugio Frey has an amazing rock wall where you can find many long routes of differnt levels, I didn’t have any gesr so couldn’t try it out….. next time.

Arriving to El Chalten blew me away.. a super small town wifh mountains next door with many rock climbing walls. Everything is walking distance and you can take many hikes into the mountains. I could spend a few months here. It really sparked something in me and I started thinking about the outdoor industry again. I went to school in 2006 to study outdoor recreation, very similar to tourism here in Argentina. I wanted to be a rock climbing guide or hiking guide. I didnt get to pursue this because I required an operation on my hips to reshape the bine due to the ball joint rubbing away my cartilage. Many years of healing and physio I feel set to go again. I found an amazing mountaineering guide course near Mendoza to climb the mountain Aconcagua which is the highest mountain in the Southern and Western Hemishper rising to 6,960 meters above sea level. The course is reognised world wide however is costly and I will need to return home to save monry if I want to do this.

Cafayate in the north west had a great feel, very relaxed and many places to visit that were close. Its always a good sign to see bikes with no locks all around the city. This blew me away, working at a bicycle store back home in Austrlia I was forever doing quotes for people who had their bikes stolen while locked up. There were many great tours which were very affordable. The man in our hostel said I could go there and start a tour if I wanted.. maybe once I know a little more Spansih I can give this a try, the possibilities are endless. I just need to change my way of thinking.

My final must see in Argentina was Iruya, a small town high in the mountains. A great place to relax and watch the condors soar high into the clouds. I enjiy being by the mountains, just sitting and looking. I dont mind if I don’t get out and walk a lot, I just feel free. There are some amazing views if you do get out and push yourself up thise mountains, the rewards far outweigh the effort you expell climbing.

I will definitely be back to Argentina some time hopefully not too far away, I need to visit all the other beautiful places before I decide where to stay for a while.

I didn’t have much of a plan for my travels, just a general direction which changed a few times due to weather or just a feeling. I only pre booked my first two hostels before arriving to the country. From then I just arrive to the new place and ask information, I never say I need to be here on this date.. This is stressful, travel isn’t a job it should be relaxing.

I am on a budget of $30AUD/200ARS per day, so far I have gone way over my budget. I have kept track of spendings with the Expensify app which is a quick easy way to record your spendings.

https://www.expensify.com

I recorded everything in the local currency however the rates are always changing and I did miss imputting a few things so the most accurate spending is by looking at my bank account with all service charges and bank fees.

Please download the expensify file below which seperates spendings for meals, accommodation, transport etc. This will give you a rough idea of my spendings.

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My total spending for 117 days in Argentina:

Argentinian pesos: $22,881.00 = 195.56 peso per day- not including bank fees, just the purchase cost)

(actual spend at current rate from Australin Dollars-6th April 2014 $33,828 pesos. This includes my bank charges and service fees of ATM/Cajero) $742 pesos in bank fees.

Australian Dollars: $4,557.00 = $39.11per day (way over budget however this reflects all bank fees from the ATM/cajero) $100 in bank fees.

With 226 days remaining I need to cut back to average $30 a day so I do not run out of money. I am planning some spanish lessons in Sucre, Bolivia but I think I will be able to pull back the spendings after this.

Money Saving Tips:

BLUE DOLLAR RATE EXCHANGE: http://www.dolarblue.net

If you havent heard about the blue rate currency exchange, check it out. If you are happy to carry money into the country bring US$100 bills and you can exchange on the street for nearly double the official rate. Its not legal but everyone does it, even the police because it is not possible to get US$ in Argentina and its much easier for them to buy property or travel with US$ so they rely on travels.

COUCHSURFING: https://www.couchsurfing.org

A great website that is a lot like facebook where people offer you a place to stay in their home, on the floor or couch or even a bed. Most of the people have travelled and want to help you out with free board so you can spend your miney on imoortant things. This is a great option and available all throughout Argentina. It is free and I have met some wonderful people. I often take my host out for dinner or a drink. I have been saved a couple of times late a night with a place to stay.

WWOOFING: http://www.wwoofargentina.com

World wide opertunities for organic farmer. Another great way to save money. There are ariund 70 farms in Argentina that you can work for, generally you work for food and baord. The only cost is to the the website operators. You need to pay to get the contact information on the farms. You can check out the website and see all the information about the farms before you decide. It is best to write to a few farms in the same location as a lot of the farms do not have wifi and takes them a while to reply. Its quite popular so the more notice you can give the better. There are other sites out there that are free but I cannot remember the names.

The internet is filled with a lot of travel information such as Lonely Planet etc. I really found Fodors forums to be great..real people asking real questions giving trip reports and helpful hints. This was definitely my number one travel companion. A big thanks to Crellston for all the great tips and giving the time to write in so much detail. I find it difficult to find the time to sit and write, I hope I have helped someone a little.. if not its a good diary of my travels for the future.
Check out the Fodors forums here: http://www.fodors.com/community/

That concludes my journey in Argentins, if you want to see some beautiful places with a deep history and meet some amazing people, I highly reccomend you visit Argentina… Do yourself a favour and plan to spend many months, stay in places for more than a day. Get to know the locals, this is where you really start to learn about the Country and its sad history of bloodshed.

If you have any questions please send me a message, I really hope you have gained something from my writting as I have from reading blogs of others..

Here is a list of places I travelled in Argentina, in order of travel, some places were visited twice due to bus travel. All travel was by bus or taxi, on occasion hitchhiking but it was minimal:

Buenos Aires
Puerto iguazu
San Ignacio
Oberà
Villa Union
Posadas
Buenos Aires
Bariloche
El Bolson
Esquel
Into Chile for 12 days
Porito Moreno
El Chalten
El Calafate
Ushuia
Rio Grande
Rio Gallegos
Cordoba
San Juan
Barreal
San Juan
Barreal
San Juan
San Miguel de Tucumán
Tafe Del Valle
Amaicha
Salta
Cafayate
Tilcara
Purmarmarca
Iruya
Salta
La Quiaca

Argentina comes to an end

26th March 2014 (writing date)

Well here I am sitting in the mountains with the most beautiful view… Just sitting and looking, thinking about all the little things in life enjoying the company of my good friend Jessica who I have spent the last month travelling with developing a strong relationship and learning many new things along the way…..

Well lets step back a little, again it has been way too long since I have written… I need to think back and remember all the things I have missed. I really need to start writting a little everyday but I am always so busy and never think to do it until so much time goes…. In one day I have been in Argentina for four months!! I was planning to spend two to three months here but I have fallen in love with the Country. It is full of amazing people and places. As my Argentinian journey is nearing the end i know I will be back again soon..

I will update the Argentinian section of my blog with places i have visited and I will also post my spendings. I have kept track of my spendings with an app on my Iphone and Samsung Tablet called expensify, it is free and really simple to use. I have missed some spendings but I will give an overall figure in AUD$ also.

I am a little lost where I left things off last.. I think I arrived in San Juan to meet Marcelo who I met on Couchsurfing. It was a great experience arriving to Marcelos door in  san Juan. He had the biggest smile on his face and welcomed me into his home. Marcelo spoke little Engilsh and I speak very little Español. We spent many nights together staying up late teaching each other our languages. It was difficult at times and we needed to use the translator but we still managed to have some very deep conversations and understand each other. Marcelo never ceased to amaze me with his generousity and enthusiasm. He loved that he could spend time during his holidays as he is a IT teacher in the univerities in San Juan. He lived with his mother Martha who was also amazing and cooked the best food. I never went hungry.

Marcelo loves his city and showed me around and we went to three wineries that I cannot recall now.. but they were amazing and the taste of the grapes where the best I have ever had. We went to the small museum with information on the huge earthquake they had in 1944 which destroyed the city. They have a small simulator which runs for the time and intensity that the earthquake ran. It was quite an experience. I have experienced an earthquake of 4.7 in my hometown of korumburra Australia, but this was much more powerful than the estimated 6.7-7.8 they had.

Marcelo really wanted to take me to Barreal a town 4 hours drive from San Juan. Not far in distance but a long drive due to crossing the mountains. Its a nice drive and some great scenery which is always changing everywhere you go in Argentina. In Barreal we stayed at La Qarencia which is run by some family friends of Marcelos. Its a beautiful place and you have a wonderful view of the snow capped mountains.. The breakfast is also to die for.. Freshly made yoghurt, seeds and breads. We spend time walking into the mountains, checking out some ruins and also having a look at the dried lake. The Stars at night are amaizing and I had a try at some night photography. I couldnt get the right settings on my camera until the last night! I was so excited to get a few photos. I cant wait to be somewhere with a clear night to keep practicing.

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We stayed a few days in Barreal eating some really nice foods and making asado with some lovely wines. We made our way back to san Juan and spent some time meeting more of Marcelos family.. Going out for dinner and drinks. I really enjoyed myself and will return when I can to spend more time with all my friends I made. I cant thank Marcelo and his mother enough…I really cannot believe how generous someone can be when you dont know them. Its a real blessing and I know I will always hold a close relationship with Marcelo… ha ha he even said I am his adopted younger brother :) I think its pretty cool.

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The time had come to say goodbye. I spent nearly two weeks with Marcelo and learnt a lot of new things. I could stay for more time but I had so much to do..

4th April 2014 (writting date)

Well time to continue… I’m currently sitting in a hostel in Tupiza, Boliva. I crossed the border today from La Quiaca. It was fast and simple with no issues at all. Im in hostel Las Salares. It is quite new and very comfortable. There is rain outside which is very soothing…. I will get back to where I left off..

The day is the 28th of February and I head to the bus terminal to meet Jessica who was to travel with me for the next month. We met in Bariloche hiking in January and we spent a month talking online. She really wanted to travel the north west of Argentina so I said come along.

We spent a couple of days in San Juan seeing Marcelo again, it was difficult to communicate at first because of the language difference but we managed as Jess had a good level of english. I was still too lazy with my Spanish and it was always easier to speak in english. I had the best opportunities but didnt take them up. I learnt a little but not as much as I could have.

We went along with Marcelo and his friends again to visit Barreal and shared asado with his family while we checked out the sites. The weather was horrible when we arrived and the first night we were washed out in my tent. Thankfuly the next day was beautiful boue skies and we could dry everything out.

We went to see the dry lake which was covered with a shallow layer of water. It was so different from a week ago when I visited. The mountains were also covered in snow when they were bare..

Back to San Juan we hopped on a bus to Tucuman. It was beautiful to arrive as the city is close to the rainforest. I dont know why but I thought everything north was desert so it was a great suprise. We stayed in a really nice hostel (I cant check my notes to see the name so will update later). It was very comfortable and close to everything.

We made a bus trip into the mountain to hike a very short distance to a small waterfall, it was an easy walk and a very relaxing day. We visited the museum which was filled with some amazing insects. It blew us away and we spent a couple of hours enjoying every minute elporing the museum like excited children. It was awesome.

We went along to Tafi next where we onoy stayed short time. We didnt find much to do without taking a tour out of the town so we moved on to Amaicha, again we took a bus and did a short walk to see a waterfall. We went to the Pachimama museum and were blown away by the architecture and art by Hector Cruz. All the buildings are made with buetiful rocks and his paintings are beautiful. Definaltey a must visit if you go to Amaicha, it was the highlight for us.

Again we moved on and found Cafayate, instantly I felt super happy and like I was at home. It was very comfortable and we spent a while looking for a hostel! We wanted to find somewhere nice that had a good kitchen were we could cook and save some money. After walking around in the mid day heat we finally found a nice place hiding it self. Again I have made the mistake of not taking notes and we have done too many things and been to too many places my brain just wont remember.

Well we ended up staying 6 nights in Cafayate. We walked around the city, ate some wonderful food and cooked some amazing meals! Jess really loved cooking and I sure do miss it after only one day.

We took a couple of tours which lasted around 6 hours. One through the Quabrada, filled with amazing miuntains that have many sacred sites and also the most amazing colours. The cost was 100 peso and the driver took us to many locations 50km out of the town towards Salta. Worth the visit. Our next tour was to the 7 waterfalls just out of town which requires a guide, I think it was 130 pesos. It was a beautiful walk through the mountains on some steep terrain to see some wonderful waterfalls..

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There always comes a time when you need to move on, just so you can see the many places….. then decide where to return.. there are around 4 to 5 places inwould definitely consider living in Argentina, I will explain when I complete  my overview of my travels later..

Next on to Tilcara, a nice town on the side of the mountain quite frssh and small.. there are some nice walks  lose by to a waterfall and a dry lake. We also visited the ruins next to the town, these are all recreations and not actual ruinswhich are scattered all around the region. They would prefer you to visit these to preserve the other ruins. We only found out because the locals told us. From here we took a bus to Purmarmarca where we found a tour to the Salinas Grandis salt flats for 90peso.. it was amazing to see the salt and feel how tough it is, they say its as tough as granite and you can see this because the build houses from  bricks cut from the ground.

Our final move north was to Iruya… we boarded a bus for Humauaca where we needed to wait one hour for a transfer bus.. we spent the hour having lunch in the plaza where we were greeted by a young girl asking for food, we gave her a banana and asked where her parents where.. she was  not shy at all. Learnt from a young age how to ask for food, other wise I dont think she would eat. Another young boy was talking to a young couple and was giving them all the information about the town as professionaly as a guide. He deserved his tip but its sad to think a child at 7 needs to do this for his family, wow such a different world this is. 

Our next bus was to take us on a windy road up to 4100 meters through the cloads, the temperature dropped quickly and we winded back down through the mountains as we watched the day become night.. finally arriving to many woman with there printouts to come to their hostels which are run in there homes. We spoke to a few and decided on one. We had a lovely room with a balcony overlooking the mountains, it was bliss.

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We relaxed and took some short walks. The weather wasnt great and feeling a little worn out we didnt take the hike to San Isidro which is highly recommended.  We cooked our lunch but bought dinner at the hostel. A nice home made 3 course meal with empanada/tamal, oven baed chicken with rice or milanasa, then to finish off a nice pancake with dulce de keche for 35 peso.. we were regulars here and soent 6  nights because we loved the place. Well all good things must end….we found a remise taxi that would take us all the way to Salta for 150peso each… this was as much as the bus and so much quicker due to such windy roads.

Arriving in Salta we walked around looking for a hostel. We found a beautiful place with a huge room but it was so busy ad people were awake all night making noise, it was horrible… we had to move so we found a hotel with a good price and dinner included.. it was a great way to finish 5 weeks travelling together.. Jess went on back to Buenos Aires on the plane yesterday. It was hard to say goodbye, we really got on well and learnt so much about each other and the differnt lives we have grown up in.. 

We both have a lot to do this year but who know what the future might bring. Such different lives worlds apart… but the possibilities are endless…

I made my way to the bus station to move on to the  border town of Argentina La Quica, found a nice hosteo for the night.. El Apolillo, great people with the freshest bread for breakfast and good advise about where to go and crossing the border.

Final move onto Tupiza in a van for 20 Bolivianos… now relax then head on a tour sunday to salt lakes etc of Uyuni…

Forgive the rush of this update… well delay then rush to write.. I dont think internet will be great from here, I will try and upload with some photos…

Thanks again and speak soon!!

Spread your wings

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Set your eyes to the sky, spread your wings and soar into your dreams.

For once I am living my dreams and learning so much already about myself and other people. Travelling has been the best decision I have ever made. I must admit it was nearly 8 years ago when I decided to travel however I let myself get caught up in life as we know it, the cycle of working to constantly stay ahead and be able to afford things we like.. last year I decided that I wasnt happy in the cycle I was in, I was slowly decomposing but thought meh this is easy, I know what I am doing and its comfortable.. when I chose to change I was able to see more clearly that there were many things I didnt need and I realised I could save so much more money than I was.

It really didnt take too much effort to change my spending habbits and save. I really think anyone can do it. It doesnt have to be travel, it could be anything.  Saving for something you like or changing some bad habits.. I went all out and sold most of what I own, maybe a mid life crisis already? Who knows? I just felt I needed a fresh start..

I hope you all enjoy reading my blog and I hope it helps with your travels or in someway on a more personal level. I would love to update more often, I just find myself busy most if the time, and again im just a bit lazy..

I will be updating my spendings in each country to give an overview of my spending habbits etc

3rd february. Wow the adventures just dont stop.. right now i am sitting on a mountain relaxing with the views here in El Chalten. I decided to do a very short hike today on my own because my knees and feet are still giving me trouble from the epic hike at Bariloche. I just havent given my body enough time to heal between the walks, its been many years since i have hiked this much. Right now I have no money in my pocket and only one packet of biscuits for the day to eat. The one and only cash point in town has been empty for the last two days. I went to take money out in Chile Chico, Chile but just as i went to insert my card the machine said it was down.

Since leaving Esquel, Argentina I have been travelling with Marc who is from Barcelona. We met couchsurfing in Bariloche. It has been great travelling together, we have a lot in common and there is no dicking around. We both know where we want to go and what we want to see.

From Esquel  we left our couchsurfing host Sebastian and we bought some supplies to keep us going as we tried to hitchhike into Chile to make our way south with some different terrain to see. We made our way to the edge of the town . It was a super hot day and no one seemed to care to give us a ride. After a couple of hours a bus with Telefuetu, Chile drove past so we hailed it down and asked if we could join them.  

It wasnt long before we arrived into Chile and crossed the border with ease. It was nice to see some difference in the mountains, they were shear cliffs which seemed to have trees higher into the mountain than in Argentina.

We were really lucky to have a lady  pick us up after a short time and drive us around 70kms .. then another guy picked us up a short time later. We thought this is amazing.. things are going so well and we will make it through Chile in no time.

The guy dropped us off in Santa Lucia which is a dirt road and there were 6 other people along the road looking to hitch hike south also. They had been waiting 5 hours for someone to pick them up with no luck. We were set because the same guy who dropped us off said he just needed to do some work in town and if he saw us waiting on the road when he finished he would pick us up and take us further.

Well after around one hour a small bus came by and picked up the couple before us and they hailed us down to come along. It was a family driving the bus and they were going to La Juntawhich was just before Coyhaiaki where wer were going. Along the road we picked up 7 other hitch hikers and they dropped us off before we go to the town.

We were all looking to save money and someone managed to find the football field and said we could stay there!  Anything to save some money….well Marc and I were starving and had no Chilean money and no atm until 300kms away.We set off to look for a place we could use our cards.. after asking around we managed to find a family restaurant, it was a grandmother and her family running the restaurant out of their home. It was amazing. Such good people and we had an amazing 3 course meal. It was a great way to finish off the day.

We made our way back to the soccer field to make camp. I was happy to set up my sleeping bag under the pine trees. I slept well but woke to raid at 5:30am however it wasnt dripping through the trees so I went back to sleep. I woke up two hours later to find that finally the rain had worked its way through so I grabbed all my things and headed to the grandstand to pack.

It was quite a cold day but we made our way with two other guys to the main road to try hitch hiking again… well no luck and with the weather we were over it by lunch time. Again we made our way to the little restaurant for a beautiful lunch. Askingaround we were told there was a bus at four pm to Coyhaiki. So we made our way to were it was to pick everyone up. We saw a few of the others who slept at the soccer field. We found a shop that took card and bought some snacks and wine to wait out the bus.. Finally the bus came, but it was full and didnt even stop.. hmmm what to do now?  How do we leave if we have no money?

We knew there was a bus that would leave in the morning at six am so Marc went out to buy some tickets but with the same problem.. they wouldnt take card. After a little mucking around he thought to go to the family restaurant and ask if it would be possible to take money out there. It took a little  persistance but the grandmother agreed. We were saved, but now where to stay for the night? It was still raining and very cold.

A few of the others went out to see if they could find somewhere to stay. They came back and said the President of the town had a  bbq room where we could all stay with a fire and a toilet! We took the oppertunity..We bought him a nice bottle of wine and made our way to his house. It was a cosy shed but we had fire and wine so we chilled and then hit the sack ready to get up for the early bus..

Well the time came that the bus should be picking us up however an hour went by and nothing… they called on of the girls and said they couldnt find the house and we needed to walk to the centre of thetown. It was pouring rain and freezing.. finally on the bus to Coyhaiki i fell asleep very fast….Only to be waken in Puyaiki to be told the road was closed due to landslides… it was really  early and nothing in town. We needed to wait one hour before the information centre was opened to which we could spend time in the hall with WIFI. All we could do was wait as we watched trucks drive past filled with the biggest boulders I have seen. It was quite a beautiful town and the weather was sunny.

We made the most of it and went to another family restaurant for some fresh Salmon. It was great, then we went to the park for a siesta in the sun.. Finally we heard the road was open but the bus company didnt want to send a bus until the next day due to the cost.. we all made our way to the office then finally they said they would send a bus.

7pm the bus arrived and we all boarded to finally head to Coyhaiki.. we arrived around 12am and walked around to find a hostel that wasa good price however they were all quite high so we made our way to a childrens park and set up our sleeping bags to sleep under the stars.. It was a fresh night but i slept well. We were woken to the sound of the army marching and singing their songs at the military base. Finally we found some cash points where we could get some more money. We were over hitch hiking and thought we would take the buses from here.

The next bus to Chile Chico was not until 4pm so again we found a restaurante  for some food and some drinks… the good things about saving money on sleeping is we could spend it on something better and not feel guilty. The bus set off at 4pm. We were driven to the lake where a ferry was to take us to the other side. Our bus driver was starting to fall asleep as we drove on the windy roads with shear cliffs on the side. It made me nervous and Marc started to speak with him to keep him alert. He was quite a large guy and was eating the skin of a lemon.. first I have seen anyone do that.. Well thankfully we made it safe and made our way to the ferry to cross the lake.

In Chile Chico we found a cheap hostel. It was great to sleep in a bed and take a fresh shower after a few days of nothing. From Chile Chico we were to make our way back into Los Antiguos Argentina. A few people said it was pretty close se we started walking and after a few kms a guy picked us up and drove us a few kms to the border. He left us there and we began to walk… well nearly 3 hours later we made it to the Argentinian border, checked in and walked the final few kms into town. We made our way to the bus station and purchased a bus ticked to El Chalten. We went into town and found the best lunch… a beef asado, it was the best beef I have ever had in my life. So tender and the best flavour.

Onto the bus we went ready for a 12hour overnight trip, we met up with Vladamir who we met at the soccer field. As usual the bus wasnt very comfortable, the best part was we got two seats each but one minute it was freezing the next minute super hot.

Arriving in El Chalten in the morning was amazing.. super fresh air and beautiful mountais. I fell in love right away. We made our way around town and found a hostel that was 70 pesos per night. We had to wait until 10am for the manager to arrive.. we were lucky that three girls were leaving and the three of us could stay. We stayed 3 nights and madea couple of walks into the mountains.  We walked a  near 4 hour walk to Lomo del pliegue tumbado with the best weather ever that gave us the clearest views of Mount Fitz Roy! It was superb and we all spent some time taking photos. Once to the top of the walk we had some lunch then slept under the warm sun to get some energy back after the bad nights sleep on the bus.

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I will definately be back because there is some great mountains to climb and heaps of rock climbing. I even wrote to a company who do mountaineering courses. I would love to do one now but dont have the money for it.

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From Chalten we were heading to El Calafate and gave it a go hitch hiking in the morning. Again no luck so we took the bus. What sucks is some buses are rediculously expensive for the time..

In El Calafate we found hostel and went into town to see how much it was to take a bus to see Perito Moreno Glacier. We met a girl Merel from the Netherlands and decided it was to much to pay and we would try to hitch hike.. the day later we had no luck and took the bus!! Where did our luck go? Wet thought we would be set. Especially with a girl with us.. well not to worry we took the bus and made our way to the Glacier where we spent three hours walking and just gazing at the beauty of this amazing ice…Its beautiful blue colour and the noises it makes as the ice cracks and falls into the water.. there is nothing like it…a must see if you are down south.

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Next we made our way to Porto Natales  the entry point int Torres Del Paine Chile.. however we were not there to head into the park as we were all walked out.. next time. We found an amazing hostel named Nataly. The owner was Willy and loved what he did. One night he made and asado of half a lamb! It was superberb! We also had Melvin. A drink made from a melon cut open and with some white wine and sugar..it was also amazing..

We were so far down south we wanted to make our way to Ushuaia the southern most city in the world. We knew it would be expensive but we made the decision. We took the bus and made it. It was nice city, bigger than I expected. We made a walk into the mountains and ate some nice meals. We really didnt do much else.. We made sure we got a stamp in our passport from the information office and sent some postcards to family..

Well that was it, time to move north…we decided this was it! We were going to hitch hike north. It was super cold and the wind was horrible.. we gave it a go and after a couple of hours a guy took us around 30 minutes.. then we were picked up by another guy who was driving a postoffice van. He drove us to Rio Grande where we tried for the afternoon to get to Rio Gallegos where we knew the buses were a little cheaper… we had no luck and made our way into town..we jumped on couchsurfing and managed to find someone who could host us for the night. We were saved again..

The next morning we head back out of town and tried again in the furious winds for 6 hours and only making it 20kms out of town..we managed to get a ride back into town and bought some food and decided to sleep in the bus station for the night to catch the bus to Rio Gallegos in the morning. It was becoming super cold and we were not going to make it through the night. Marc received a messaged from the prevoious day from a couchsurfer who said we could stay at his house so we sent a message back and a few hours later he was able to pick us up and take us to his house.

Its been amazing to see the hospitality of the people here. It really opens your  eyes to some great things. We were even offered a lift back into town to the bus terminal in the morning… Well here we go!! Onto a 48 hour bus ride and way to much money back north to Cordoba .We are staying in Villa Carlos Paz just out of Cordoba with Marcs friend Luis.Again his hospitality is eye open.. its been great to spend my birthday here with someone i know. We went out for some food and drinks then just chilling out together.

Now its onto planning the next phase of the journey. It hard without internet and needing to go to the internet cafe. Things are changing due to costs of buses etc.. I think next I am heading to tucuman..

Well off i go and will  update again soon!!!

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Man Vs. Wild Round One

I made the decision to make my way South from Posadas, Argentina because the weather was becoming super hot and I didn’t really know where I wanted to go.

After finally healing from my infected leg after around 5 days in Posadas not doing much but relaxing I went to the bus terminal to see the cost of heading south. I knew it would be costly and i really didnt want to go back to Buenos Aires on the bus.

I spoke to a few bus companies and found that the only way I could get south to Bariloche was to take a bus to Buenos Aires then another bus onto Bariloche. So I made the decicion to go.. The next bus to BA was 4 hours away at 10pm… a 14hour trip back the way I had already come.

I said goodbye to Sergio and thanked him for all his help taking me to the shops and the station on the motorbike. I really enjoyed myself in Posadas spending time with a great family… I also got to practice some Spanish with everyone.. I really enjoyed speaking to the 5 year old girl because it was a simple conversation… although she did surpass me by a long way and couldnt understand my accent in Spanish… I really need to work on it.

Everyone struggles to understand my name. A friend said try and say Anden, because that my be easier. I am yet to give it a go but will see how it works.

I chilled in the station and waited for the bus. It was nice to catch a night bus as I could try and get some sleep. I reccommend the front of the bus on the top above the driver because the leg room is better. You can put your legs up to the window.

Well 14 hours of being in the bus wears you out pretty quickly, sleeping on and off just slighlty. Not quite enough to refresh you.. we arrived late in Buenos Aires as usual. I dont think I have been on a bus that has been on time.. I was getting worried because my connecting bus with another company was only an hour away.

I managed to change over with no problems as the next bus was nearly 40 minutes late. The next bus was a 24 hour bus ride to Bariloche. I did enjoy the change in scenery as we went through the open expanse of flat fields.. not much really there…a few hours out of Bariloche you start to go through the mountains, and wow they do not dissapoint. So steap and super sharp peaks. Its very different to our Australian mountains that i have been to.

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Our bus broke down twice in the mountains so we had nothing to do but chill outside and take in the fresh mountain air. We also played a few rounds of Bingo. It was good for me, learning the numbers. Unfortunately I didnt win… maybe next time.

Arriving in Bariloche around 2 hours late I found a taxi to take me to the address I had been given for couchsurfing. I didnt realise Bariloche was 25km long around the lake and that i was on the other side of the city.. It really pays to research because my taxi was $180 pesos. Crazy for a half hour ride when i could have paid $4 peso for the bus.. next time I know.

After a little stuffing around and asking some locals we finally found the house and I made my way in to meet the guys who would host me couchsurfing.

It was a beautiful home and really comfortable. I spent some time with the guys and met their friends. We ate and stayed up late. Something I dont know if I will get used to here. One night we made an Asado, BBQ made with coals. I absolutely love them..

Bariloche is a beautiful place with many crystal clear lakes and so much to do.. One of the days I hired a bike and made a 4 hour ride around the the lakes. It was quite difficult with many hills in between. The views are amazing and there are so many places to stop and take photos.

We were so lucky with the weather and most of the days were above 25 degrees. We made the most of it and visited some of the lakes in Bariloche. The water was fresh and very cold but it was super refreshing.. The water is so clear you can see right to the bottom. There is a beuatiful blue/green colour that illuminates from the water. It would be great to go with a snorkel to see the fish.

I was planning to head to El Bolson next for some hiking but Cristian said there was great hiking in Bariloche. I had a look and there are many refugios (like our huts in Australia). I decided to do a 5 day circuit to 4 of the huts. I gathered my things and looked over the map to plan my trip. I went into the city to register my walk at cab- Club Andino Bariloche, they give you information on the walks in the National Park etc. The park next to Bariloche is Nahuel Huapi National Park.

I took the bus to Kilometer 8 where I wanted to take another bus to Villa Catedral.. I just missed the bus by 2 seconds. It literally drove past as i tried to wave it down.. well I thought the next bus will come in half and hour or an hour… well waiting, and nothing came. I tried my best to ask if anyone knew when the next bus would be coming but no one knew. Finally after 2 hours just as I was getting ready to start walking and hitch hike, the bus came! What a relief.

On the bus and on my way .. I arrived at Cerro Catedral and made my way to the begginging of the walk. It starts off on the 4 wheel drive road.. its quite tame and easy going to begin with. After a couple of hours it changes and things start to get really steep.
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They views are amazing as you start to move higher into the mountains. I walked for around 5 hours with breaks and made it to refugio Frey beside a beautiful lake.. I was a little upset at how many people were there though.. it was more like a hostel then a mountain camp. Not to worry the views were to die for.. It was great to see heaps of rock climbers there too. The cliffs look great to climb. I will definately be back to climb some day.

I set up my tent on the tiny stones and started to cook my dinner of potatoes and carrots mixed with a soup. This night the sunset was absolutely amazing as it slowly dropped behind the moutains illuminating the sky with an orange glow…
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I was pretty tired so had a was in the lake and made my way to bed. It was a little uncomfortable because my sleeping mattress doesnt inflate anymore. It was a rough night on the rocks but i managed to get some sleep.

Waking early i pack everything away in my pack and relax on the rocks as i eat some breakfast. Ready to go I make my way around the lake and see a family of birds with some chicks, they looked like geese of some kind.

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After a few photos and some site seeing i though i better get moving as i wasnt sure how long the next refugio would take.. very quickly the trail turned into the side of the mountain, just rocks and up… it was quite the slap in the face. I wanted to go mountain climbing and the walk to Frey was a little dull. This sure wasnt though. I was so excited and super exhusted already.

The walk was around 7 to 8 hours of up and down and many scree slopes to navigate (loose rocks)- at one point i was walking with 5 others down the slope and we all slid and fell on our butts at least once. Its quite dangerous because at one point a laarge boulder dislodged and went on rolling down the cliff. Yelling out to the people below to watch out. Thankfully the boulder came to a stop and no one was injured.

Again there are so many beautiful place to relax on the walk from Refugion Frey to Refugio Jakob. You make your way through some forrest and there are amazing rivers.

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Arriving at Jakob everyone at the refugio was really nice, I logged in and found a quite campsite with smooth dirt for the ground. I liked the Jakob wasnt as busy as Frey. Its a harder walk. You can walk in from another point which is a nice trail that has a very steep climb and takes 6 to 8 hours.

I was pretty tired from the long day of climbing and descending so relaxed by the lake as I ate and watched the sun set.
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The next day I got a few things together in my pack, to climb Cerro Refugio, the mountain next to the Refugio. It was also the route to the next Refugio Laguna Negra which is mainly unmarked and they reccommend to take a guide.

I could see why they reccommend a guide, the path dissapears and everything turns into rocks.. much of the way is climbing, up to a grade 15 in some places on the Austrlian scale. Something you would like to have rope for for safety.

It was a couple of hours climbing to the top and i relaxed knowing that I had the mountain to myself. It was pretty awesome views 360 degrees around! I was on top of the world… well not quite. I was only aaround 2000 meters above sea level but for this day it was my mountain!!  My boring lunch of bread and salami tasted amazing!! Something about the mountains that just sets you free.. No worries, nothing. I love it and think Bariloche is somewhere I could live. It has everything I love to do!!!

Day 3 of my hiking I pack up camp and set off to make my way to Laguna Negra.. The morning is cold and I am a little tired. Setting off at 8am i head up the mountain as I did the day before. Again no one is there. Just me. Alone walking solo with just my thoughts. The day was great and nothing but sun and a slight breeze. 

The trail is nothing but rocks. Its like heading down to the beach and walking and climbing along the rocks!! It was tiring. I stopped a few times to eat and relax and a few times I left my bag to climb some of the mountain peaks.. It wasnt something I should have done on my own as if I did slip the fall would have been the end. I have hiked a lot in the past and have also been rock climbing so I was confident in what I was doing. If I wasnt I would not have gone ahead.

I managed to find the way where you pass over the mountain and continue down before ascending again to Laguna Negra, I left my pack and walked down for a while. I didnt really like the route and thought I may find something further ahead. I kept on moving and tried a few passes of the main mountain ridge line but couldnt find anything..

I sat for a while looking at the time and knew i had 5 hours of light left. I didnt want to stay on the mountain because I didnt know if they would call a rescue if i didnt turn up to the refugio.. i didnt want to go back the way i went.. so I looked over the map and decided to take an alternate route off the main trail.. when i say that there was really no trail anyway.. just a line on the map.

I choose my route and wanted to climb down the mountain to follow the river then finally head east to hit the trail and walk back to the refugio Frey where i came from.

I set off climbing down the mountain, when i say climbing I mean all fours and scalling down the cliff. It took me nearly 2 hours to decend nearly 1000 meters. It was quite a relief when i took the last step off the mountain.. making my way south 200m to the river i crossed through a thick lot of trees which i climbed on the bendy branches. Into the river i knew i could follow for a few kilometers and it would hit the trail at some point. The vegitation was lush on the sides of the river and i was forced to walk in the river. It was fresh and no deeper than thigh hight.

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I continued walking through the river watching the mountains and checking the map to decide where i would leave the river. It was beautiful and there were a couple of mini water falls i needed to navigate down. Again i knew i was somewhere not many people would go and it was exciting.. maybe foolish if i was to get into trouble… i had enough food and i knew where i needed to go. I didnt want anyone to worry.

I decided to leave the river because I was starting to go north away from the trail. I made my way out of the river and bam!! There i was in a swamp.. thankfully it was only ankle deep and went for about 500m.. then again the foilage was getting thick and turning into thin bamboo that was so thick you couldnt see more then a few meters ahead.

I could see the mountain about 2kms away with the trail at the bottom directly east… so with the sun behind me casting my shadow in front i pushed ahead knowing i had 2 hours of daylight to make the trail..

I was using the sun and a few trees that i could see above the bamboo as a bearing. Pushing through the bamboo was hard work and it was taking it out of me quickly. I found the best way to get through the bamboo was to seperate the bamboo one by one and make a tiny path to push through the 30cm i made and repeat.. a few times i needed to crawl and climb… a few points i was so thick in it that i couldnt turn or move.. one pont i was so frustrated i was pushing down the bamboo trying to climb then i fell and turned around to fall pack first… there i was stuck like a helpless turtel.

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I sat there for a moment and thought all is ok I know where I am, I know where I am going.. Its just a huge challenge i needed to push through. I got myself into this. I can get out! With one final push i managed to get myself up with my pack… i continued to push and found my way to a clearing under a huge tree. I couldnt climb it as there were no low limbs. I could see the mountain very close now and knew it wasnt far. The bamboo was thick here so i relaxed a moment to regain some energy!.. i made the final push and it was around 15 minutes more then boom!! Out i emerge to the trail.. I was so happy to get to the trail.. now it was around 9pm and I had been going since 8am with a few breaks up until lunch time..

The final push up the 1000m to the refugio was exhusting.  I picked up two sticks and went at it step by step… I walked into the refugio around 11;30pm looking like a zombie.. I was greated by many people and the guy who runs the refugio.. he asked where I had been. I told him my story and asked if i could buy some food because I didnt feel like cooking. He said to me its ok! Tonight I will feed you. I was so happy to hear that. What an awesome guy. I had a was in the lake to freshen up.. unfortunately i had taken a lot of cuts to my arms and legs from the bamboo, i was so focused i didnt even realise.

The meal was amazing and i made my way to an empty space on the ground. Rolled out my matt and sleeping bag and slept under the stars. It was a beautiful night and i woke a few times to just look at the stars. I do love how i can still see the same sky and the southern cross. It really doesnt feel like I am far from home… i am lucky because i feel like i am home wherever i am.. I used to get home sick when i was young.. but now its funny.. i am my home and happy to be wherever i am.

With a good night sleep i awake semi fresh the next morning.. deciding to make my way home to Bariloche. It was a struggle and I was pretty tired. I met up with a nice group of girls half way down the walk which was only 4 hours. It was helpfull to walk and chat, takes the mind off the walking. By now i was nearing 60km of walking and much of this on rocks. Its been a long time since I have done anything like this and my feet were suffering quite a lot..

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I was thankful to make it to the end and i was given a lift to take the bus home. People are so nice and really helpful.

On arriving back to the couchsurfing house there were a couple more surfers and I met Mark from Barcelona. We hit it off and we were heading in the same direction so decided to move on together and try to hitch hike from Bariloche to El Bolson..

We managed to find a decent spot after asking the police where would be good.. We took it in turns to hail cars and watched as the dust was building in the distance slowly the wind picking up just throwing dust everywhere like being hit by a sandblaster… We decided to use our powers and think together what car would pick us up!! We decided on a white pickup (ute in Australia of course).. it didnt take too long and bam!! There was our white pickup and a really nice guy who was going to El Bolson! We were set.

Mark had set up some more couchsurfing in El Bolson so we made our way to the town market where the couple Fernanado and Camilla where selling oils and soaps that they make. They took us to their bio home they have started building which is 25kms out of town.. super quite fresh air.. we slept in the loft. No power or running water. It is super new.

It rained for a couple of days so we went into town for a meal and a drink. When the weather fined up a little we made our way to a oneday hike from Wharton El Bolson to Hielo Azul Refugio.. it was around a 4 hour hike up a pretty steep rocky stream. Things then flattened out and the forest way amazing. Beautiful green trees and grass. It was quite a change from the rocky mountains at Bariloche.

We made it to the Refugio and we were staying inside so the cost was $100 pesos. Pretty expensive but we didnt want to carry much. The Refugio was nice and we cooked a nice pasta meal in the kitchen and drank Mate..
We met a guy mark had met on the bus and chilled together. The weather was really icy and it was nice to have the warmth of the refugio. We slept in the loft with many people and it was hard to get a good nights sleep.. the guy next to me thought he would try and share my bed a few times. I had to kick him a few times before he would more.. at first i thought it was the cat from the other house we were staying at then remembered where we where.

We got up nice and early to a beautiful day and relaxed with a nice breakfast and more Mate. We walked together with Mitchell down the mountain. We took our time. I was still struggling from the hike the few days before at Bariloche. Finally we reached the dirt road back to El Bolson. We tried to hitch hike and eventually a taxi pulled up and gave us a good price.. we were stuffed and took the ride. Thankfully because it was a long way back into town.

Back in town it was pizza time then try and hitch hike the 25km back home. Here we go with our Jedi mind control again!!!! 3 rides later and we were home… into our loft with our cats. We felt like home and had the best sleep..

Next day we got a ride with the guys into town as it was market day! Made our way to the outskirts of town and trying to get a pickup was proving to be impossible. The heat was pounding us.. finally a tour bus came by and we took it to Esquel.. the 120kms took 4 hours because it went through a national park. It was a nice ride and better than waiting, cost was $65pesos..

Now in Esquel relaxing and working out our travels south to the end of the world in Ushuaia, Argentina. We are looking to head through to Chile then back into Argentina. Hitch hiking as much as we can to make things as cheap as possible..

Well until next time… excuse the spelling and no photos. I will get some up as soon as I can.. we are all sitting in the same room next to the wall stealing next doors WIFI!!

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The beautiful Argentina

Time is going by so fast. I have been in Argentia for over a month and it only feels like a week. The weather is getting super hot up here in the  North. I have spent the last month in the North East region of Misiones. It is a beautiful place that reminds me a lot of North East Australia near Cairns and Port Douglas. I often forget where I am until I see a town or people. The simplicity of everything feels like I was born way before any time I have seen in Australia.

I made my way via bus from Buenos Aires on a 20 hour journey north to the magnificant town of Puerto Iguazu, very close to Iguazu Falls. I stayed in a nice Hostel which I cannot think of the name right now. It was cheap and comfortable even with a pool. I met a nice guy Adrian who was from France and we hit it off and spent a few days together exploring and trying new food while he gave me some tips on Spanish. I tried morcilla, blood pudding sausage. It was really nice and quite a different texture.
 
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We met an older man who had a truck even older then him at 80 years. He said it still ran well. It’s pretty cool stepping back into the past.
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We took the bus to Iguazu Falls and spent the day just blown away by its size and the amount of water contiually flowing over the edge. It didnt feel real to stand there on the edge as all of this water just fell over the side. There is a constant mist floating up and sometimes huge amounts of water soaking you to the bone which was a much needed as the sun was very hot even while on the bridges over the water. Adrian and I made a 3km walk into the forest to find a huge water fall with a large pool for swimming. I am not sure if you are meant to but we jump right on in. The water was so refreshing and a great massage on the back from the power of the water.
  
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When we arrived back at our hostel there was another couple there from France. They had biked over 6000kms through South America but had to stop there journey short due to some health issues that came up along they way. Now they are continuing on buses etc. We all got along really well and took the oppertunity to cook a cheap dinner. The hostel had a place for an asado. A BBQ with coals. We bought meat steaks and morcilla as well as some chorizo. It was so amazing so we did it again the next night also.

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In Puerto iguazu you can visit a ladies garden where she has feeders for humming birds. She said they have been going to her home for 30 years. She charges 20 pesos but let’s you sit and take photos for as long as you want, it was awesome being so close to them.

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We were all going along to the next locatin San Ignacio to see the Jesuit Ruines so we all went along on the same bus. I stayed in a room with Adrian and they others camped in their tent. The hostel was hostel Adventura and it was beautiful too. It was a very nice place to relax again with a pool. The weather was perfect and not too warm.

Adrian and I went to the Jusuit ruines and cost is $70 pesos for entry. We took the most of this and we were given a free tour in english. We were told about the history of the ruines and how life was lived. It was very interesting and crazy to think that people were living this way only 400 years ago. We spent the afternoon walking around the ruines and visiting the many rooms, it was quite an adventure. Its hard to image that people can build such things with no power tools etc. All of the roofs have fallen down and some wall are being restored so they dont collapse also. I thought it was worth the visit. Definately if you are on your way to or from Iguazu.

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This was time to say good bye to the guys and make my way to the farm where i was planning on going for one to two weeks and it ended up being one month. It was through Wwoofing. World wide oppertunities for organic farming. There are many farms in South America. You pay a fee to join and they send you the contact details of the farms. You can read about all of  the farms on the websites. There are small farms with people just setting up  their land so they can live on it and also larger farms.

I sent a message to three farms i liked in the Misiones Region of Argentina and one farm was full and I received a message from Matias that I could come to his farm. The other farm never responded. I made my way from San Ignacio via 3 buses to a small town just outside of Oberà where I hoped of the bus. It was in the middle of nowhere…just two small bus shelter on the side of the highway..thankfully i had directions to walk down the dirt road for 4km and then i would see a huge stack of bamboo out the front. The day was super hot and it was a decent walk but the place is amazing filled with  butterflies and all kinds of birds and insects.

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I made it to the farm late in the afternoon at the beggining of December 2013 and met everyone there. There were are few volunteers when i arrived. I set up my tent in the bush then went for a swim with a couple of guys from the UK. The water was so nice. On the next day i found out what was happening and some of the jobs. Matias has owned the land for a couple of years and is trying to get it up to a state to live off the land as much  as possible. There are a good amount of vegatables and fruit trees but the grasshoppers are really killing everything. Its hard to manage. A new toilet is being constructed with bamboo and we spent a lot of time working on this. The toilet system they use is a compost toilet using wood chips all in a bucket then its emptied into a large compost and left for one year and then its safe to use on plants etc.

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We spent a lot of time cutting grass with a machete.. its crazy how fast everything grows. Its hard to keep up with it all. We also worked on the foundation of a house. Making the stilts from concrete. We were only able to work until lunchtime beacuse the days were so hot. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and swimming in the river.

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It was a great experience and i got to meet a lot of the neighbors who were all so very kind. They all had houses that were made by their own hands and everyone would help each other. It was quite and awakening.. not what we see at home..out of the 50 something units in my complex I knew 3 people.. here they know everyone even if its a few kms down the road. Everyone was so generous giveng us eggs and Yerb Maté- it is a tea that is very popular in Argentina. Its a little bitter but I love the tast. Its shareď in a little cup with a metal straw that has a filter at the end and made with hot water or you can drink it with juice. I will deffinately be bringging some home with me

I really enjoyed the place and i ended up staying longer and longer until finally nearly a month  wás gone and i decided it was time to move on.. however i dont think the farm wanted me to leave because it rained so hard the day i wanted to go the road flooded!!

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The river must have come up a few meters. We helped a neighbor get his broken down car out of the road. It was sitting in the water. They needed to use the cows to pull the car out.

I also got my first bot fly larvae in my leg wich is a little uncomfortable it pricks at you under the skin as it grows.the easiest way to remove is to cover the tiny breathing hole with nail polish then tape. Then once the larvae dies you can squeeze the out my first one popped all the way out but my second one broke in half removing with twaezers now my leg is very infected. I am in posadas for a couple of days to rest and the people at El Bambù were I am staying are very nice. They called a doctor for me and they gave me a prescription for penicillin.

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I think I will be heading South to Bariloche tomorrow to escape the heat and I want to see Patagonia. It’s a little annoying because I need to go back to Buenos Aires but I think it will be worth it before I go north again to the heat of Salta Region.

Hope your enjoying my trip so far, I sure am.. i will need another holiday after this though..

68 days and 40 hours until landing in Buenos Aires, Argentina

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With five weeks of paid work from now until I leave everything I live off from then will be what I have in my pack and the money I have in my account.

I have my final visit with the travel doctor on Monday for my last round of the rabies vaccination along with a measles booster as I am not immune and another shot to which I cannot remember? It was a costly necessity for all of the vaccinations but I would rather be safe then sorry. I spent approximately $600 on doctor visit and vaccinations along with a blood test because I could not find paperwork to know exactly which vaccinations I had in the past. Thankfully now everything is recorded in a nice yellow book along with proof of my Yellow Fever vaccination which is the only shot that is required for entry/exit for Countries with the disease.

I am in the final stages of selling my belongings that I do not require when I return and donating any old clothes I will not wear.

I have purchased a new camera, I have the Sony Nex 5N with 18-55mm and 55-210mm lenses. I have only had the chance to use it for one day and I am still unsure if its what I want? It’s pretty compact and picture quality seems to be good. I am used to a Canon DSLR but I wanted to carry something smaller and lighter. I will give it some more testing before I go to make sure I am happy..

I am busy sifting through Hostels online to see where I will stay when I first arrive. I am never good at making decisions so its difficult to decide. Buenos Aires is so big!!! I am not much of a city lover but it will be an experience visiting a city so big.

I am also looking through the host list for WWOOFING (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). There are a few farms I would like to work at. I just need to get my application together and send it to the farms I am interested in and hopefully get an offer.

I am looking forward to working and trying some new things. I am from the country and a farming town but I have never worked on a farm. It will be a great way to meet the local people and learn their way of living while also having the opportunity to stay in the one place and travel around on weekends etc.

The more I think of my trip the more time I want to spend in each place I go. I don’t want everyday to be spent on buses and getting around. I would like to stay in the places I find interesting for a while and get to know the people and the way of life. I am still looking for Volunteer opportunities- in any way that I can help.

I am still having trouble finding volunteer work in Argentina. I have found a couple of places working with orphanages. I’m sure that I will come across more when I am in the country.

For now I just need to concentrate on getting ready… Keeping up with my Spanish lessons (I’m about half way to where I thought I would be by now). Life gets so busy and I am very lazy on my days off. Time feels like it slipped away. I need to remind myself of how close it is until I go otherwise I will be trying to sort everything out on the last day!

I am not worried and I am not excited.. Life just feels normal. I am looking forward to something different. Meeting new people, seeing new things. It wont start to feel like things are happening until I finish work and I leave the house with my bag to hop on the plane.

Then we will see. It will be awesome! I’m sure it will be.

Aside

Where does it all begin?

Buenos Aires, Argentina.. It’s really hard to imagine that I am finally heading away on a journey I have always dreamt about…….. I really don’t feel like it’s real. I don’t think it will until I step foot on the plane. Well only 98 days until I go is what my Trip It app tells me.
I’m all set with my airfares and travel insurance. I have most of my gear and a basic understanding of Spanish. I have a booking with the travel doctor on Monday to go through all my vaccinations and medical needs for the trip.

So far I am yet to have any plans set upon my arrival in Buenos Aires. I fly in at around 7:30pm, I will pre book a hostel and work my way from there.

I have received lots of good advice and ideas from the http://www.fodors.com forums, it’s filled with plenty of great posts and people who want to help share all the information they can on their travels.

I think I will spend around 2 months in Argentina if not a little more due to it’s size. While in Buenos Aires I will take some free city tours to see all the highlights. I am trying to see if there are any organisations that offer volunteer work in orphanages in the outskirts of the city. The search is still on to find something that requires only basic Spanish.

At this stage I would like to head north to Iguazu Falls region to see the amazing waterfallshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iguazu_Falls then I may spend some time working on an organic farm in the area. I came across WWOOFING (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) while searching on line. Looks to be a great way to help out the locals learning their way of living. Each country has it’s own yearly membership fee which is cheap!! Argentina is one of the most expensive I have seen at $38 per year. This allows you to contact any of the registered farms on the list. There are plenty to choose from! you basically organise with them when you can stay and work for them and receive board and usually food also! absolute bargain if you ask me.

From here I don’t have any plans! At some stage I want to head west to Tuzgle, Argentina for some bouldering (rock climbing without rope or harness. Generally at low heights). This place looks amazing!

tuzgle

In saying that, I think everywhere looks amazing and I can’t wait to head off. Just to take it easy and not have to worry about where I need to be will be great.

Let it all begin

Wow I can’t believe it!! My adventures are already under way…. I have woken early to my mind buzzing with excitement filled with ideas and questions…

Yesterday was the day I set things in motion and my plans have changed dramatically… Originally I was going to spend most of my time in Ecuador. After some research I keep finding so many places in South America to visit. So much beauty, so much to do….

I was planning on purchasing a one way ticket and seeing where things ended up.. On talking to a mate from work he mentioned his brother in-law worked at a travel agent and I should give him a call. After a busy days searching for some new work shoes I arrived home and called the travel agent!!

He was so helpful and gave me some great ideas! instantly I decided I wanted to venture around the whole of South America!. I was amazed at the price of a return ticket from Melbourne Australia.. I was expecting to pay the amount of a return ticket one way…. The only downside to the return ticket is its valid from one year when you depart! I keep thinking is that enough? well I wouldn’t really be at a loss if I changed my mind and could stay…. I guess its better to be safe and have a definite return if you do run out of cash?

Finally I decided, I will buy my tickets today!!! I know how bad I am with plans and time slips away without warning. I knew I had to make the commitment and get things rolling….

I purchased a ticket from Melbourne Australia to Buenos Aires Argentina returning via Rid De Janeiro. The date is set for the 26th of November 2013.

Its all too exciting and I just want to go now!! The only time I have been out of Australia was for a skiing trip to New Zealand last year.. This trip is going to be very different.

I will be travelling alone just looking for adventure. Meeting new people, seeing beautiful places and challenging myself to do something I have always dreamed of.

I have so many questions and so many ideas…. I’m really not sure where to start and how to go about my itinerary. I want to have a good idea on my route and time frames to and from countries so I make the most of my time!

I have not read up on much of the countries outside of Ecuador. I think I would like to travel through Argentina and move south, then north through Chile to Bolivia then onto Peru into Ecuador and the Galapagos. North into Colombia then onto Venezuela back south through the Amazon into Brazil working my way towards Rio…

At all seems to much to accomplish in one year and not miss anything!!! I was just thinking maybe a one way ticket would have been a good idea but like I said if you get stuck you always have a return…

I am not planning for a luxury trip.. I have hiked enough in the years and I don’t mind roughing it! I just want to see and experience as much as possible.. I will be taking a camera, a couple of lenses and a pack full of everything I need!.

The trip will range from hot to cold… what exactly to carry? I need the perfect size pack to hold my life for one year……

I could use all the help to answer my questions. It would be greatly appreciated if you could give any information…

I have so many questions on:

  • What places I shouldn’t miss.
  • The best places to stay- places I can work for free board (hotels, hostels, couchsurfing etc)
  • Packing tips
  • The best places for photography (landscapes, birds and wildlife)
  • Volunteering locations- wildlife, orphanages, farming, tribal communities
  • Local guides I can pay to take me on trips (instead of expensive tour companies)

The list goes on and on……..

I have found some good information on the internet, a few sites below have been great.

One of my workmates has been to South America so we will be catching up soon to talk about all of his travels.

Well that will be that for today. I hope you guys enjoy. looking forward to any replies!

Three months and counting

I finally started Spanish lessons last week with a nice teacher I found on line. He is from Colombia and after one lesson he has taught me a lot more than I have learnt trying myself. I look forward to our 2 hour meetups each week. I want to have a clear understanding on the Spanish language and be able to speak with people when I start my trip.

I think its important to be able to speak with the people in their native tongue when visiting and I think I will be more helpful in any volunteer work.

The last few weeks have been quite, I have not been planning for the last few weeks. I have really only been working on my budget.

Things will be tight if I want to have enough money for my travels. I am not looking to travel in style but do not want to worry about the funds while I am away. I am cutting back as much as possible with  the bills and selling what I no longer need.

I am still thinking about what my main reason for wanting to travel is? The more I think about it the more confused I get… I look at how I live my life and how much money I spend, its crazy really. The cost of living in Australia is so much yet certain things are essential, like insurances etc..

I want to explore and I want to help people, assisting in anyway possible. Helping with farming, teaching, labour, anything that will help people and their community. I understand I can do the same in my own country but the money goes so much further in South America where the people live off so much less.

My main focus is to travel the country and volunteer as much as I can as long as I can in any one place. I understand that my impact will be minimal yet I hope I can give something. To me tribal communities are better at living then we are. We live in isolation and fear from things that those people would never think of. They fear of diseases and losing their lands. I wonder if my view will change when I go?

I want to meet the native people of South America, and learn about them. How they live and what their lives are about. I want to learn about their religions and practices. I will share my love for God with them and teach them what I live for. I think it’s important to share these things with one another and from there you are open to choose your own way.

I am budgeting to buy myself a camera because I love photography and there are so many beautiful landscapes in South America. My dream would be that my photos could pay for my travel expenses as well as all volunteer donations. I would love to make a documentary of my travels and the people I meet.

I am looking for suggestions on volunteer groups, church groups or anyone I could meet in South America I can stay with or has ideas on where I could start. Any help would be truly grateful.

I will do my best to keep you all updated with what I find. For now take care.

Opening Blog

I am new to blogging and looking for a free site to start with that isn’t too dull.

My main reason to start a blog is to document my plans to travel to South America. I have wanted to visit Ecuador for many years however life just slips on by and I’m right where I started, no money saved and no plans of where I am going.

I have decided to make this a reality and planning is under way… when I will go exactly I am yet to decide.

To date I have organised a budget to help me save while being able to pay off the debts i owe. This is the first week of living on the new budget and it’s proving to be very tight! I must plan what I am going to eat and what will work!

I will update in detail on my budget and see if anyone has some ideas to help save!

enough there….. why do I want to go to South America??

I absolutely love the outdoors, I love exploring and seeing new places. I can honestly say I have been extremely lazy the last few years and life has been lived mainly indoors.

I am drawn to the beauty that South America brings with its diverse wildlife,insects, climate and people.

I love photography and wish to start my Journey in Ecuador. The country is quite small yet the terrain varies so much from the Galapagos Islands onto the main beaches of Ecuador.. running into the Andes and also the lush rainforest with a world filled with life.

I will pack a backback and myself and head out on an adventure of a lifetime. I will start in Ecuador and see where it takes me. I am looking into Volunteer programs as I want to help the communities and learn their ways of living.

They are further behind then us in the Western World yet the people seem so happy and welcoming. I have a few friends from South America and they are amazing people.

I am a loner and I love to spend time on my own, this is why I will be travelling on my own yet I also love to spend time with people meeting new friends and learning new things.

Enough babble…………..

I hope you guys enjoy, I just need something extra to keep me engaged and on track to ensure I live the dreams I have had for years.

Peace.