Thursday, February 12, 2009

Due South...

Time to leave Buenos Aires, again, but this time for good. After an early checkout, I headed post-haste over to an internet cafe near my first Bs As hostel, where I knew I would be able to sort out my photos without getting to the stage of wanting to throw my assigned computer on the floor and jump up and down on it until it was in little tiny pieces. It's one of my occasional pet hates when travelling, internet cafes that try and control what you can do too much - locked down commands and permissions, trying to charge extra when you burn data to discs yourself and sometimes now adult filters, which hilariously seem to regard sites like Hostelworld (where I often book dorm beds in advance) or Facebook as "adult content". Somewhat less hilariously, they then proceed to close the browser automatically, no matter what you might be doing.
Having fixed my backup issue by burning two brand new copies of my combined photos, I hot-footed my way back to the hostel, picked up my packs and got on the local bus to Aeroparque, Buenos Aires' domestic airport, for my flight down to El Calafate. The airport itself was small and very well organised, and a pleasure to transit through, and the flight itself was quite comfortable - I was surprised by quite how much legroom there was on my flight with LAN. I had been hoping for some views of the Andes on the flight, but sadly this was not to be due to our flightpath. I did get some nice vistas over the Pampas and then the wild open spaces of Patagonia, though.
On arrival in El Calafate, I noticed straight away that my decision to bring a fleece and other winter gear to South America was not going to be in vain - whilst it was quite warm in the stark Patagonian sunshine, the air temperature was distinctly cool and the breeze quite biting, and my decision to wear my sandals rather than my shoes seemed slightly less sensible than it had in the sultry warmth of the capital. I hopped onto the shuttle bus from the airport, which helpfully dropped me right at the door of my home for my time in southern Patagonia, the America del Sur hostel. I was met on my arrival by Federico, one of the staff members, who pointed the dog he was carrying at me and cheerily asked me what I thought of his rifle. It was that kind of place, one of the most welcoming stops of my trip so far.
After dumping my bags in my dorm, I headed into town to explore for a while, popped into the supermarket to get supplies for the next day, and then came back to the hostel for another Asado night. To the accompaniment of copious amounts of beef and chorizo sausage, not to mention a wide assortment of salads and accompaniments and a few litre bottles of beer, I settled down and enjoyed the view out over Lago Argentino, meeting some of my fellow hostellers in the process, including two girls (Emma and Alexis) from Jersey, which I think is a first for me on the road - I've met Manx before, but not to my recollection Channel Islanders. After all this, I settled in for a relatively early night, ahead of my trip the next morning, the must-do attraction of southern Patagonia, the Perito Moreno glacier.