Originally our plan had been to visit southern Argentina in June. That would be the beginning of their winter season and we would have been able to take advantage of the world class skiing. We always just said “southern Argentina” and “Patagonia” without really knowing what either of them were..or, really…where either of them were.
“Bariloche” wasn’t in our vocabulary. We never heard of it. But we’re really glad that we landed here. Honestly, it’s the first place – not that we have been to a ton, but still – the first place we have agreed we’d come back to. This place is bad-ass. Don’t get me wrong, it’s touristy as all hell which can be annoying, but a short walk to the lake or a local bus up to a hike and you completely forget about the B.S. hustle and bustle of the town. You couple the access to activities with it’s food and beer scene and you should know why we will be back.
We spent just under a week here in Bariloche. We extended our stay (originally 3 nights) because there was enough to keep us occupied, the flights for our next leg were cheaper if we waited and the apartment we are in was cheap and available. It all ended up working out like we had planned it, but of course we didn’t.
Our favorite activity was white water rafting. We booked our trip through Aquas Blancas. We had emailed a couple places prior to arriving in Bariloche and they were the only ones to reply – so….um…they are the best!! They were really simple to work with. A couple emails, we stopped in their shop, paid cash, got a discount and were told they’d pick us up the next day at 9am. Okedokee.
The bus picked us up. Haha..I am laughing just thinking about this. It’s more of a van than a bus. Holds 20 passengers or so. The first row of 4 is reserved for the guides and photographer. The rest of the bus is packed. With a ton of dudes. Turns out these guys were in town to celebrate their 40th birthdays – all of them. They are basically the same age and have known each other since they were 10. It’s a 40th birthday-bachelor party for them. And these guys were fucking nuts. And hilarious. But more crazy.
From the time we boarded the bus (9am) until the bus dropped us back off at our hotel (7pm) these guys were NON STOP. I can’t stop giggling the more I think about the shit they were pulling. The guides could not control them. They couldn’t control themselves. Two stories come to mind that I will always smile about…
After a 2hr ride the bus stops at our “home base” to have a quick breakfast and change into our wetsuits. Before I get too far into these stories note that the guys all were from, at some point, Argentina….and therefore all speak Spanish. Some spoke English. The guides and the workers all spoke Spanish, with a little English. So we couldn’t catch all of the inside jokes..but the ones we did catch had us cracking up. OK OK…back to the story. (and this isn’t one of the two I am going to tell, it’s just a preview) We’re all getting changed into our wetsuits. There was someconfusion on what type of clothing we could or should wear underneath. Cotton? No, do not wear cotton. Polyester? Um, I think..let me see your shirt…(guide takes a look and then nods in approval). This sequence of asking, showing the clothing and determining yes or no went on and on. Maybe 10 times. You could sense the guide was beginning to grow impatient wondering how in the world grown men didn’t know why type of clothing they were wearing when all of a sudden one of the dudes takes off his shirtand is COVERED..front..back..arms..EVERYTHING in thick, curly hair. He had a huge grin on his face and asked “is this shirt OK to wear underneath??” Haha. Here we go!!
We all piled back into the van and drive another 20 minutes or so through the forest to the launching spot on the river bank. I was blown away by how beautiful the river was. It was crystal clear, blue-green water. I was expecting some type of gross river but this place looked like it something you would find in a travel magazine advertising fly fishing in Bariloche.
We have all of our gear on and the guides hand us our paddles. Game on. The group of guys run down to river where it is moving pretty good and start wrestling, pushing, splashing and in general playing in the water. The melee goes on for a solid five minutes when two of the guys decide to go further out into the river and lay on their backs with their live vests keeping them afloat. Hahaha…and they start floating down river with these big shitty grins on their faces like “hey!!! check this out I am floating!!” The guide sees these two and freaks out. The only time I heard the guide raise his voice. He appeared genuinely concerned for their well-being at that point. Luckily he got their attention and they sort of rolled onto their stomachs and crawled back to shore.
The last story I will share about these guys pretty much sums up their antics for the entire day. After almost 10 hours of rafting, walking, driving, etc… they were still going at it. This time on the bus ride back home.
Once we got out of the water everyone changed into dry clothes. Some of the guys were wearing just their boxers under their wetsuits so they changed out of the wet boxers. Well, those puppies made it out of their backpacks and onto each other’s faces for the first 20 minutes of our van ride back into town. We were probably doing 25mph on a bumpy dirt road when one of the guys finally got tired of getting his buddies wet underwear put on his face and head. He grabbed the boxers and threw them out the window of the van. The owner of these boxers did not appreciate this move and took the guys hat and threw it out the window. Everyone is laughing now. The driver is wondering what in the fuck is going on because he was asked to stop. He pulls over and the hat owner retrieves the hat and the boxers. As he is outside picking up the stuff his buddies grab his sweatshirt and throw that out the window too. These fuckers…they just wouldn’t stop, but man they were hilarious. I wanted to be their friend so badly.
The actual rafting was a ton of fun too. Not as intense or dangerous as I thought it would be, but a lot of fun. At the end we all jumped into the river from a cliff almost 40ft above – that was pretty scary and some chilly water! Because we have both hands on the paddle we weren’t able to take pictures so we had to buy them from the group photographer who naturally focused more on the bachelor party. I don’t think that these do the adventure justice but it’s all we got! We definitely want to go rafting again.