We decided to leave El Bolsón today despite being invited to stay for Claudio and Gabriella’s daughter’s birthday party. They had invited around 20 school friends for the party and were going to have a big asado. It’s a bit of a shame that we didn’t stay but we felt that we should move on as we now had left than a month in South America.
With our bags packed, we headed to the bus station in the morning to try and get a bus to San Martin de los Andes. a small border town recommended to me by a Chilean friend of mine who I went to university with, Another reason why we decided to head south was because of the border crossing trouble a lot of other travellers had recently encountered. The crossing at Mendoza into Chile is currently experiencing a lot of heavy snowfall and is notorious for just closing until the snow subsides leaving a lot of people having to buy flights into the country – we’ve met a lot of people who have had to do this because they had to catch another flight from Chile or Argentina but were stranded on the wrong side of the border.
Anyway, we got to the bus station and discovered that we couldn’t get a direct bus to San Martin de los Andes. We had to get a bus back to Bariloche and then catch another bus to San Martin de los Andes. So we decided to just book our ticket to Bariloche and then buy another ticket when we arrived there. We felt quite sad to be leaving El Bolsón as, again, we had a great time there and it was so nice to stay in such a family-orientated hostel.
After a two hour bus journey we were back in Bariloche. As usual, we did the rounds of all the bus companies to find out the times and prices of the tickets to San Martin de los Andes. Unfortunately, the next buses were all booked up and we had to wait in the station for a couple of hours to catch our bus. Just outside the station was a guy selling choripan on the street. We had one each for lunch and sat and read our books until our bus arrived.
We eventually arrived in San Martin de los Andes around 5ish. It was raining, very heavily! The town is very small and John said that there was no point in us getting a taxi so we ended up walking around trying to find a hostel. We ended up in Puma Hostel which is part of the HI chain of hostels – it was much more expensive than other hostels we had stayed in Argentina but it was raining outside and I couldn’t be bothered to walk around with my bags anymore. So we stayed in a 6 bed dorm but luckily for us there was no-one else in our room!!
We spent that evening walking round a few other hostels and found a cheaper one just down the road. There wasn’t much of an atmosphere there as it seemed pretty dead but it had table tennis, clean dorms and it was cheaper. Winner!
We didn’t go out in the evening as it was pissing it down so we made vegetable in blackbean sauce with rice for dinner and chatted with a fellow traveller. The girl was from France but she had a Chilean boyfriend who she was living with but she had to cross the border into Argentina to renew her visa. She told us to go to Pucón, another place which was recommended to us by my Chilean uni friend, and to head to the hot springs there! We missed out on the hot spring on our Salt Flats tour so I think we’ll definitely be heading there in a few days time as Pucón will be our first stop in Chile.