music to ashes, chocolate to dust

Certainly one of the most eventful trips I’ve had this semester (although I must admit that there haven’t exactly been any uneventful trips). I’ll go about organizing this post as I did the one about Uruguay. Again, sorry in advance for the novel, but here we go!

Thursday, December 8 (a.k.a. Too Much Ash To Handle)

After a fairly comfortable bus ride to Bariloche (despite the war movies on the bus), we settled in to our hostel and had lunch after making a quick grocery store run. With half a day to go, we took a bus to the Lago Gutierrez, where we spent a few hours walking around. The ash from the volcano in Chile was definitely visible in the air. While on our nature walk, we encountered lots of large, irritating, flies, a friendly dog who we named Fluffybutt, and a cascada, not quite a waterfall. After having enough of the ceniza (ash), we headed back to cook a delicious taco salad dinner. We then played a card game that Abbey taught us which involved lots of hand slapping. As we played the game and passed around our mate, we befriended some Colombian women who were traveling together, and Titán, the night worker in the hostel. We headed to bed satisfied with a comfortable arrival and ash-ridden day under our belts.

Friday (a.k.a. Rebels With A Cause)

Early rising and breakfast in the hostel followed by a bus up to Cerro Otto, one of the peaks in Bariloche. We took a gondola up to the top of the mountain (during which I was most nervous due to my fear of heights) and took some photos. We sat in the rotating café at the top and had some snacks, and once the rotating got the better of us, we headed outside to take a self-guided “hike.” Our hike involved us asking for information about the hikes and what we were allowed to do, and sneaking under a roped-off area (that we were given full permission to do by the staff at Cerro Otto!) to climb to the top of the peak. We were quite rebellious, with our goal of seeing a beautiful view fulfilled. After seeing some natural beauty, we decided to head down to the center of the city to check out the chocolate we’d been hearing so much about. We went to get ice cream at Rapa Nui, a café and chocolate shop that soon became our favorite. We walked around after ice cream (we sampled ice cream made from the Calafate berry, named for Calafate, in Southern Argentina), went shopping, and had more than a few chocolate samples at each chocolate shop we walked into! After Abbey was stalked a little bit (half-kidding!), we cooked a delicious pasta with broccoli for dinner and played Bananagrams into the night with Joe, a friend that we made in the hostel, who was staying in our room (there were 6 people in the hostel room total).

Saturday (a.k.a. The Music Man[sion])

On Saturday, Erin, Abbey, and I took on Llao Llao National Park! It was quite a brisk day, but we brightened the mood by singing throughout the entire hike (classics were “Be A Man” from Mulan, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” from The Lion King, “Build Me Up Buttercup,” “Defying Gravity” from Wicked, “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, and a steady stream of “Misery” – the Glee version). As lunch time neared, we were struggling to find public lake access to eat our lunch at a picnic area. As a car drove by, we stopped to ask the driver where we could find access. The driver was an older man, 50s or so, who told us that we could go on in to his own backyard! We soon found ourselves in one of the most amazing backyards I have ever seen in my entire life. Martin (the driver) lived in an enormous house, with a huge green lawn, a pool, and a beautiful private view of the lake. We were speechless as we ate our lunches with our own private view of the lake. We were even more surprised when, after taking refuge under a large tree when it started to rain, he came outside and pointed us into a pool house with tables and chairs inside. We sat inside for a while more, then, after saying goodbye and thanking Martin (whose house was being turned into a lodge), went on our way home. After a quick stop at the hostel to put on pants, we enjoyed hot chocolate at Rapa Nui (the most delicious, rich, hot chocolate I’ve had yet!). After delicious stir-fry for dinner, we played more Bananagrams with Linda, another friend, who is from the Netherlands.

Sunday (a.k.a. Goodbye Bari)

We tried to head to the Chocolate Museum, but unfortunately the factory part of it was closed since it was the weekend. We eased our disappointment by having MORE hot chocolate (this time, dulce de leche flavored). We then spent a while walking around to different chocolaterías to go “chocolate shopping” for friends and family. After a delicious and much-too-filling lunch, we got on the bus to have the worst bus ride back in history (no movies, 21 hours of uncomfortable air temperature, and a snippy attendant). Never have I been so glad to get off of a bus!

Erin and I celebrated surviving the bus ride by a trip over to McDonald’s, where we enjoyed joy and happiness in the form of fast food before heading back to our respective homes. Pictures follow!



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