Yesterday, we drove from the National Park Los Alerces to Bariloche. After some shopping and dinner, we repacked our belongings. We got up early and took a taxi to the bus station. We took a long bus ride from 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. over the Andes to Puerto Montt. We had to go through customs to leave Argentina and customs to get into Chile. The Andes were impressive. We saw the remains of an imploded volcano, bamboo rain forests, lots of snow, and jagged peaks. Our route took us slightly north to Villa La Angostura and then due west to Osorno, and then south to Puerto Montt. Along the way, we got great views of Volcan Osorno (aka Petrohué in Argentina).
The bus was comfortable with large, tinted windows to take in the vistas. A small TV screen played DVDs of U.S. music videos and movies (remake of The Longest Yard). I was somewhat embarrassed as an American watching Michael Jackson, Millie Vanelli and the disco era. Usually we drive a rental car because we need to drive to fishing locations after arriving to the city of our destination. But it is somewhat easier to cross an international border in a bus and certainly less expensive because we would have a drop-off charge for leaving a car in a different country from the one we rented it in. We are staying in a Holiday Inn Express. I choose it because it is less than a year old and right on the water. But I must say, I also feel somewhat more at home. It’s nice to have a king size bed, a coffee maker, and soap packaged with bold letters saying “Cleanse.”
And so begins the next chapter in our journey. Chapter 1 was Spanish school in Santiago; chapter 2 was fishing in Junin; and chaper 3 was fishing around Esquel and Los Alerces National Park. The final chapter will take us south via ferry boat to Tierra del Fuego, Torres del Paine and Rio Gallegos. Tomorrow on Christmas, we board the ferry for our four day voyage. I left Argentinian Patagonia with sadness, a feeling that our stay (four weeks) was short and a desire to return. Our Esquel trip was very different than Junin. Our numerous fishing destinations around Junin were about an hour drive with others as few as ten minutes. Once I walked out the front door of our cabaña, walked through town and started fishing the river.
Esquel is in the center of tourist (and fishing) destinations in Chubut Province; but the distances are greater–we typically drove two hours to our destinations. We were disappointed that Arroyo Pescado, located southeast of Esquel, is now private and quite expensive. Rio Chubut needs to be accessed from the town of El Bolson. Rio Grande showed promised, but is large, deep and strongñ the biggest problem was limited fishing access from the road. That leaves some smaller lakes and lesser rivers–and the Los Alerces National Park.
Ultimately, after exploring our options, we moved to the Park. There are only a handful of places to rent a room in the Park, a hotel and several hosterias. There are also a fair number of campgrounds. It was early in the season and very rainy. When we decided to move to the Park, it had been raining a few days and we reasoned the rain would stop.