Thursday, December 28, 2006

Viva Argentina .... y Chile tambiem !

Hola amigos !

From the capital city of Santiago; I wish you a Happy New Year!!!
All the best … and so … and so … And so

I left you a bit more than a month ago when I just arrived in the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires.
This last month has been traveled on my own as my lovely woman returned in Ausie land for a few weeks and is right now on the road to join me in Santiago to resume our last 5 months.

So as most of you just want to see my gorgeous lady swimming with the sharks, trekking in the Himalayas, jumping from a plane or whatever else …. You can close the page and return to... Whatever you want to do; and wait for the next update.

To the few who did not close the screen (at least my mother) …. This is what happened!

Buenos aires,
With a mix of European architecture, and Latin atmosphere; I have been taken by this city. To make it even more attractive, I was hosted by Stephane, a French friend who lives in a beautiful house in a quiet but central district and who has been in Argentina for the last 14 years. It is in his place that I met Nicolas (cousin) and Jane, French sociologues, journalists, mechanics, politicians, travelers who were also enjoying Stephane hospitality and also have the time and stress free thinking gifted to the ones on the road.

You can walk days in the city without getting tired of looking at nice buildings, watching people relaxing on parks, listening to music bands at every corner of the place or checking out art expositions in one of the numerous galleries.
From the colored houses and tango dancers of “el Caminito” to the weird cemetery of Ricoleta, without missing the huge avenue of “9 de Julio”, the music bands of the “plaza San Martin” and so... You can just walk and enjoy getting lost.

After a week of wonders enjoying the comfort of a nice house, I made my way to the city of “Puerto Madryn” on the east coast, separated from the capital by thousand of kms of a no man’s land called “La Pampa”.
“Puerto Madryn”, by its sheltered location attracts the whales a few months a year to deliver their babies and rest a little before going back to the deep sea. We took a small zodiac and observed those huge animals jumping around us and scratching their backs passing under the boat … amazing!
In the same area, you can also check sea lions, penguins and sea elephants …..

A few days later I was on the road towards the south of the continent towards “La Tierra del fuego” to reach the famous city of the end of the world: Ushuaia…
Nice small city where ships sail to the lost continent of Antarctica and where the sun decides to go to bed around midnight.
Trekking and the snowy mountains of the Bella vista small range and climbing inside the national park of the “Tierra del Fuego” made me forgot the 2 days spent on a bus to reach this holy place.

After Ushuaia, there is nothing south... so you go up!
Passing in Chile to reach the incredible national park of “Torres Del Paine” … Beautiful 4 days trek inside the park to fight the 4 seasons in a single day … Melbourne has just a stable weather compared to this place.

To relax from those treks; I treated myself with a 4 days boat trip to reach the north of the southern Chile through wild landscape of evergreen forests, glaciers and foggy mountains with eternal snows.
A voyage accompanied by seals and dolphins, visiting places such as Puerto Edén, where the heritage of the aboriginal forefathers can still be recognized.

I then crossed the Andes back to Argentina to reach the city of Bariloche next to the “Los Lagos” region … what can I say … STUNNING again!

Continuing the way north I reached the wine capital of the country; Mendoza and after a few days losing myself with Bacchus; I left the city for a tiny little village called Uspallata in the middle of the mountains to spend Christmas (where JJ Arnaud filmed the movie “7 years in Tibet”)
After a midnight celebration in the small church (such a nice and happy experience) I joined Pepe and Maria, owners of the small hostel I was; who invited the frenchie for dinner … Happy New Year Pepe!

Here I am, in Santiago, waiting for Danielle to spend the New Year somewhere on the west coast.

Argentina was kind of a shock at the beginning as it was the 1st developed country crossed.
Roads are great, buses luxurious, life much more expansive, and tourism is huge and so well organized.
But the country is really beautiful; so big that I did not have time to go everywhere but gave me the will to come back.

Argentineans are amazing!
Latin people with a real love of their country and traditions that they like to share.
The crisis of 2001 is not really visible and leave me to wonder if this apparent stability is not fake and could hide problems to come … not sure.

Apart from the natural beauty of their country, Argentineans have another joker in their sleeves …… The food!
My friends … the meat; this holy meat, flooded by a holy wine … what a treat!!! Spending a few evenings in the traditional Parillas where you can eat as much meat as you can, drinking a good red wine …. Will just leave you with the happiness of Buddha … and the same belly!

Here we are, on the road again ! direction Bolivia.

… Enjoy the new year parties !
See you in a while

Just enjoy and do not forget … One life !