After getting back from Cochamó, I knew I wanted to move on quickly from Puerto Montt, so I woke up early and headed down to the bus station to catch the first bus to Argentina. I wanted to head to Bariloche and then take a bus to El Bolson to meet up with Ivo. (He had been smart and was traveling with a light load, so he was going to make the journey to El Bolson on foot.) My plan didn’t go quite as expected, which again, turned out for the better, eventually. Of course I didn’t see it that way when I was in the bus station being refused a ticket because I didn’t have the print out proof of my visa (reciprocity fee) to get into Argentina. I didn’t have this because I had already paid my visa when I arrived at the airport in Buenos Aires and had sticker proof in my passport. They had recently changed the law on this, so yes, you do need to pay your reciprocity fee before traveling into Argentina, by any mode now. But I already had. And I had proof in my passport. The
idiot man working at the counter did not understand this and refused to sell me a ticket. I was less than pleased. Fortunately there were others in Puerto Montt that could actually use their brains and were willing to sell me a ticket (even if it was for the early afternoon). I still get heated thinking about that jerk, clearly. I need to let it go…
I eventually made it on to the bus, crossed the border without incident, and managed to catch the last bus out of Bariloche to El Bolson. It was on that bus ride that I met Gail. She had also had a “fun” encounter with an equally competent bus employee, so we commiserated over our experiences. Gail is not shy about expressing her opinions and it was honestly refreshing, and amusing, to have someone to vent with. After we moved past our anger, I learned that she is an Oregon expat living in El Bolson with her husband, Eddie. She offered to help set me up at her friend’s hostel, but since it was so late, she invited me to just stay the night at her house. We made it to her house and she yelled (Gail doesn’t really use indoor voices) to Eddie that she’d brought the girl from the bus home. It was only then that I introduced myself. We all had a nightcap and then I snuggled in to bed with one of their very affectionate kitties. It was such a warm end to a rough starting day.
The following day a deal was made: for a couple hours of work each day, I could continue to stay at the house. I agreed immediately. That first day I did some house work, but then we realized that I could be more helpful organizing the expenses for the cabaña that they were in the process of building. It was honestly fun to break out excel again and set up some spreadsheets. With our arrangement settled, I relaxed into the El Bolson lifestyle, which is rather relaxed… to say the least.
Although I had a great birthday weekend, I was still missing home a little bit and Gail and Eddie were the perfect solution. I swear that they would fit right into my parents group of friends. They were an odd mixture of all of them… and it was so fun, and comforting, to be surrounded by that kind of love. We drank wine and good polish vodka (thanks for sharing Eddie!) We ate homemade food with fresh greens from the garden, including… wait for it… KALE! We shopped the hardware stores for supplies for the cabaña. We went to a gong bath, aka adult nap time. We went for walks and shared philosophies about life. It was the exact nurturing that I was needing.
I already was feeling at home, and then we had Sunday breakfast. Sunday mornings at the Dixon house are quite the affair. My dad usually makes pancakes or waffles and then we have a leisurely morning reading outside on the patio. It’s one of my favorite times to stop by for a visit (usually after yoga), so it was quite the treat when Sunday morning rolled around and Eddie made us a pancake breakfast. I was giddy.
Not only did I have a wonderful time with Gail and Eddie, but I also met up with Ivo for some craft beer tastings. Sadly none of them were very good…
I also had the pleasure of meeting up with Stefan! I had just made it back down from a lovely waterfall hike (with a hand drawn map from Eddie with fair warning about this “somewhat sketchy” bridge) when I pulled out my phone and saw that Stefan had arrived earlier that day to the campsite across the road from where I was staying. I popped in and had the pleasure of seeing him for the first time in months. It was a lot of fun to share notes on the journeys that we’d each taken since we’d last parted at the Cave.
With Lollapalooza and Caitlin’s arrival in Santiago at the beginning of April, I sadly couldn’t stay too long. With a heavy, but full heart, I headed to the road to attempt to hitch to Bariloche. I ended up getting ride in this:
At least I left home in style.