Monday, December 28, 2009

Bariloche or Bust

Bariloche Hike - Day 1

"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir

We spent the week before Christmas in Bariloche, Argentina, a mountain town in the heart of the Andes. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and lying in the heart of Argentina's Lake District, Bariloche has been dubbed by some as the Lake Tahoe of the South America. For Annie and I it stood as a reprieve from the sometimes maddening congestion of concrete, people and diesel air that is Buenos Aires. For me personally it was a chance to go out on a four day solo trek in the mountains.


25 Hour Bus Ride
25 hour bus ride.
Buenos Aires to Bariloche.
Concrete to mountains.
Height by floors
to height by altitude.
Rolling out across the plains,
and more plains.
Double decker bus.
Three meals of ham sandwiches,
and duche de leche cookies.
Into Patagonia
and the endless expanse of chaparral,
and nothing.
Nothing and dust.
Dust and cattle bones.
Cattle bones and powerlines.
Sticky sun-baked bus stations pass.
The windows feel warm.
We rock and sway.
Dip and curve,
through brick and tin towns.
Sporadic sleep.
Book pages turn.
Movies fill the monitors.
The first in English.
Then two in Spanish.
The last in Japanese?
And we're there.
Real. Mountain. Air.


It took us 25 hours by bus to get to Bariloche. My time there would highlighted by a solo excursion in the surrounding mountains. While Annie relaxed in town, my big green pack and I went off the grid on a four day trek that took me through forests, both dead and alive, and above the tree line in the rock and snow. It was the heart of the spring melt and flowing water was not only a near constant sound, but a frequent source for me to quench my thirst. I would spent two nights sleeping alongside clear blue alpine lakes, and one in the solitude of a damp and flowing green valley. Not only were the wooded valleys and snow capped mountains I traversed interesting, but so were the hikers from Austria, Germany, Scotland, Australia, Argentina and the United States that I met along the way.


Bariloche Hike - Day 1

We walk, pack laden.
Over gnarled stone
and through tombstone trees.
On the ridge we stop for water.
I hear only wind
and plastic bottles.
And then Danny's harmonica.
Dead forest blues.


All and all it was a solid trip. One of physical endurance and mental rejuvenation. Lungs filled. Thoughts expanded. I left wanting more.

Check out all the photos from the trip on flickr here.


The book that made the hike with me:
The Best Short Stories of Jack London
by Jack London


Currently Listening To:
Song: Baltimore Blues, No. 1
Artist: Dear Tick (myspace) (iTunes)

For more on how I first ended up in Buenos Aires check out the first post of Harmony and Dissonance.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sketch of the Day: San Telmo Bass

San Telmo Bass
The above sketch and haiku were inspired by a visit to the big Sunday market in San Telmo, a barrio of Buenos Aires.

San Telmo market
Street performer serenade.
Cobbled and alive
.

Currently Reading:
Confederacy of Dunces
by John Kennedy Toole


Currently Listening To:
Song: Zebra
Artist: John Butler Trio (myspace) (iTunes)

For more on how I first ended up in Buenos Aires check out the first post of Harmony and Dissonance.