At 7:00 am, after a night of no sleep, I grabbed my stuff, packed my bag in the kitchen — so I wouldn’t wake my bunkmates who were lucky enough to still be asleep — and ate what was left of my spaghetti and ground beef leftovers. (Side note: cooking that two days before was the best idea EVER — it was only 150 pesos/10 USD and lasted me for 5 meals!)
The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round…
I walked 10 minutes to the bus station and hopped on the 8:00 am bus for the three-hour trip to El Chaltén. The ride was utterly unremarkable with nothing to look at but the typical flat, treeless Patagonian landscape. Good thing I had picked up a book in my El Calafate hostel…
The only stop was at the Hotel de Campo La Leona. Surrounded by flat, rocky terrain as far as the eye could see, the only notable traits were a medium-size river just across the parking lot and a sign detailing just how far you were from a series of cities (including 11,168 kilometer from NYC).
SWM Seeks Friendly Polish Girl for Fun and Adventure
After pulling into the El Chaltén bus station/information center, I stuck out in search of El Relincho, the campsite where I would meet up with my new friend, Magda.
Being such a small town, it was easy enough to find and, as instructed, I asked the Argentinian, non-English speaking guy at Administración for ‘the Polish’ campers. The conversation went a little something like this:
Me: “Hablas Inglés?”
Me: “Okay. Um…donde estas…um…personas de…Polska?”
Him: (looking confused) “Como?”
Me: (types the word “Polish” into my phone and shows him)
Him: “AH! Where…you…from?”
Me: “El Calafate” (feeling hopeful we’re getting somewhere)
Him: “No. Ah…va donde?…”
Me: “AH!! New York City”
Him: “Si!! Just left…down street…right.”
Me: “Muchas gracias!!” (as I run out the door in the hopes of catching Magda)
Just as I reached the street, I found Magda in front of the supermarket putting a few provisions for her hike in her backpack!!
Hail Laguna de Los Tres, Full of Beauty and Grace
We were both happy to have found each other — though, I suspect I was far more relieved since she was the only person I knew there — and decided to drop off my stuff in the tent and jump right into a 10 kilometer hike up to Laguna de Los Tres.
The first 8 kilometers through the woods were a fairly easy hike and offered beautiful views of El Chaltén, the valley, Fitz Roy Mountain and the Fitz Roy Glacier.
It was the last 1-2 kilometers of steep ascents that were the killer! My leg muscles kept telling me to stop and threatened to cramp up if I didn’t. But I pushed on and was handsomely rewarded by amazing views of Laguna de Los Tres!
The hike also gave Magda and I the chance to get to know each other better, seeing as the entirety of our interaction included a 10-minute taxi ride from our hostel in Ushuaia and about 30 minutes waiting for our plane to El Calafate.
During the hike, I learned that she…
- Is the same age as me
- Has been with her boyfriend, Mariusz, for 3 years
- Left her Alaskan malamute in a doggie hotel for the 3 weeks she is in El Chaltén
- Does not have any kids, but would like to some day
And she learned that I…
- Like to make funny faces in my pictures
- Do not have a boyfriend/husband (after she asked if I have a girlfriend/wife)
- Am like a mountain goat when hiking down steep trails
- Have an allergy to beer
Out of Gas, Into Bed
We arrived back in town tired, but satisfied. We could only muster the energy to buy some “mucho delicioso” handmade empanadas from Che Empanada (we actually watched this cute little old woman making them by hand as we waited), pick up some Malbec at the supermarket (Dave will be happy to hear I have a newfound appreciation for vino tinto), shower and pass out.
TWAS A GOOD DAY!
For your geographic enlightenment: El Chaltén, Argentina