El Chalten

We left El calafate with amazing weather the next morning. Not 10 minutes into the drive we saw Mount El Chalten for the first time and the view would remain for the rest of the road. Clear skies. Something I hadn’t seen so far. Unfortunately by the time we reached El Chalten (the village, not the mountain), clouds started coming in. Still there was hope.. But then we had to stop at the entry of the park and listen to a 10 minute discourse about what to do and not to do in the national park.. The sun slowly faded away. We made it into town shortly before noon. Our first stop on that Saturday was the supermarket.. It was horrifying. A few shrivelled up carrots, a rooting bell pepper and some almost liquid prunes were all the vegetable section had to offer. Individual packages of cookies had been spaced out on most shelves to create the illusion of full shelves. It failed miserably. It was depressing. We bought some cookies and decided to postpone our cooking plans to another day.
Instead I went to do the short hikes shown on the map we’d been given by the park guards. One was a short walk to a waterfall. The waterfall was much nicer than expected, about thirty meters high, it actually had a lot of water and could be heard quite far away. Back from the waterfall I crossed to the other end of town and walked up to the viewpoints. The weather allowed for some nice views and I returned home happily. The next morning, we discovered that new produce arrives Saturday evenings, so where yesterday had been individual cookie packages, was now a variety of cookie options. They had reasonably fresh vegetables, eggs and most of the other things one could desire. That evening I learned how to peel a carrot with a spoon, in order to maker ourselves a nice stew.
I shared the room with an Argentinian girl, young, motivated, hyperactive and slightly oversharing, she was also simply super nice. There were many “First times” I had here because of her. I tried Mate for the first time, I had a home cooked Argentinian meal for the first time, I played truco for the first time (No I can’t explain the rules) and I watched how our group grew.. We started out as three or four people cooking and ended up with easily 15-20 by the time it was done. Every Argentinian in the hostel would ultimately become involved in the cooking process. It was absolutely great.
After a great lunch with our Argentian friends, we went to the bus stop to buy our tickets for the next step on the road, only to learn that the road was closed due to heavy rains.. But we were told it would surely be open the next day. The next day, we asked again and were told “the road is a mystery”… which we took to mean “We’re gonna see if we can make through whatever’s on the road”… so wish us luck!

We did some small hikes the first day, to the waterfalls and to a small viewpoint over the lago viedma. I encountered a funny sign on the way, showing a parent with its kid walking on the road and says “Attention drive slowly” and below it doesn’t say “save lives” but “avoid fines”. I think this is much more likely to have an effect.

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