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Trails & Techno_Text_December 10

Trails & Techno_Text_December 10

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Published by Patrick Archer
Trails and Techno: A South American Odyssey is the tale of two young Americans dodging Corporate America long enough for a 30-day, 120-beats-per-minute journey through Argentina, Chile, Boliva and Peru.

Trails and Techno: A South American Odyssey is the tale of two young Americans dodging Corporate America long enough for a 30-day, 120-beats-per-minute journey through Argentina, Chile, Boliva and Peru.


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Published by: Patrick Archer on Dec 12, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs


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A lonely coaltrain enginesits in Puerto Natlaes’ city square
 We woke at 5:00, packed the
and prepared to leave theHotel Bulnes with empty stomachs. Unfortunately, we were leaving thehotel too early to get our complimentary 
. The hotel owner would be sleeping soundly for at least two more hours. On the way outof the front door, we placed our lodging pesos in a small wicker basketbehind the front desk.
Express Check Out...Chilean Style.
As we were strolling toward the bus station, a smalldog passed by us. Seconds later, six wildcanines came barreling around thecorner, viciously attacking thelittle mongrel and flinging himaround like a rag doll. Someconcerned locals joined Andy and me as we yelled and tried to distractthe savage pack. We finally succeeded in scaring off the dogs and theirfour-legged victim scampered away. By this time Andy and I wereemotionally shaken but undeniably awake. We continued on to the bus station where the
bus was waiting andrunning at 6:30. For fifteen pesos apiece, we would be back in El Calafate by lunchtime. With tickets in-hand, wefound a couple of seats near the rear of the bus. Unfortunately, we made themistake of choosing the aisle directly above the rear Michelins. Paved roads would be a luxury reserved for thefirst five miles of the trip, so the resulting bounce factor was high. An hour later we changed buses and continued on to the Chile/ Argentina border where we crossed without incident. A white Christmastree on the checkpoint’s porch reminded us that we only had fourteenmore shopping days until Christmas. We got back on the bus and slept
martes10 de diciembrePuerto Natales, Chile a El Calafate, Argentina
Destino:El CalafateModo :Pies y ómnibusDistancia :200 kilómetros
15 16 17 18 19 20 21 
D L M M J D L M M J D L M M J D L M M J D L M M J V V V V V  
1 2 3 4 5 6
8 9 10 11 12 13 14 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 
desayuno:breakfast jam
n y queso:ham and cheesealfajores:Argentine dessert biscuitsandwiched in layers of chocolate.papel higienico:toilet papercaballo:horse
Last Chance Petroleo!Next Exit: 150 miles
for about an hour until we reached themost remote hotel in the region. Westopped in the hotel’s restaurant for therequisite
 jamón y queso
sandwich, two
and a cold Coke. I made abathroom stop before getting back on thebus and discovered two cartoon drawingson the wall. As a reminder to visitors totoss their toilet paper in the wastebasket, the owners had drawn a fearlesstoilet character (Captain Potty?) diagramming the wrong (
) and right (
) way to throw away your
 papel higienico
.Back in El Calafate, we found ourselves atthe familiar
Terminal de Omnibus 
and learnedthat we had, of course, missed all of that daysbuses north to Mt. Fitz Roy. Contrary topopular belief, the word “calafate” does notmean “wait” in Spanish. The town is actually named for a type of wildberry which grows throughout this region. El Calafate was foundedback in 1927 when it became a popular stopover for stagecoach travelers;little would change over the ensuing seventy years. The only discernibledifference would be that today’s transients are mostly European and theirpreferred method of transport is not a trusty 
but a reliable forty-eight passenger
bus.Inside the bus station, we bumped into a Canadian couple who werealso on their way to Mt. Fitz Roy. Gary and Shauna, both from Toronto,had been hoping to catch a bus to Fitz Roy that afternoon. Andy and I,the resident experts, explained just how things worked around here tothe Calafate novices, and they followed us outside to begin our quest forlodging. We stood on the corner fora minute until we saw the familiarred Renault of our friend, Rodrigo.Rodrigo took the four of us to the
Hospedaje del Norte 
, a spotless hostel which cost a reasonable twelve pesos a night. Once settled, we took abrief 
, knowing that our fellow Calafateans would be doing thesame until 16:00.
Intent on putting a dent in that Christmas shopping list, we went totown and found a gift shop that sold hand-painted t-shirts and other handmadecrafts. In the spirit of giving, we eachbought a t-shirt for ourselves. In allfairness, it is somewhat difficult for usto load up on gifts for friends and lovedones, because we’ll just have to carry them aroundon our backs for the next three weeks. We then took our new purchases next door to the town laundromat where we washed a basketof dirty clothes for eight pesos. Our fine washables would not be ready for three hours, so we had some time to kill. We resolved to figure outhow we were going to handle the leg of our trip
our three-day trek around Mt. Fitz Roy. We wanted to go north from El Calafate to either Puerto Montt,Chile or the Bariloche, Argentina lake region by bus. We were told at thebus station that if we wanted to go north, we would have to go back southeast for three plus hours to Río Gallegos, where our journey began. We got a similar story at the Tourism Office. Ditto at the only travelagency in town that sold airline tickets. Ground transportation was ouronly hope. All possible flights were either sold-out or departing from faraway coastal towns like Trelew or Comodoro Rivadavia. One option was to take the bus from El Calafate
northwest up to Bariloche. But thethought of being cooped up for forty-eight hours in the winding lakesregion was rather unappealing.Finally, we went back to the bus station and sat down on thefloor in front of a giant map of the Patagonia. We decided to analyze theproblem from a different perspective. As long as we hadto go south in order to go north, why not make thesouthern leg count. In a flash of brilliance-or maybedire confusion-we decided to try Chile’s southernmostairport in Punta Arenas and fly out of there on thecheaper and often more reliable
. We made an unsuccessful attempt to contact
from the
in town and finally decided to put off worrying about the tripnorth until we had completed our
Tour de Fitz Roy 
. We would definitely be flying by the seat of our pants by traveling over eight hours down

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