I once hitched through Europe with an old friend. We saw a lot of roadsides on our way and arrived in Cadiz dustier than a couple of dingos, so I popped on the bunny smugglers and leaped into the sea to cool off. I looked around to see that my travel chum Alex had made a few friends, which was great, until I got out and realised that one of his buddies had nicked my bag.
My point being that if you make moving too important, you are left with little in your heart but tales of miles lost. And – er – get your bag nicked at the end of it. Or something.
Anyhow, following my own advice, when I arrive somewhere gorgeous I like to hang out for a while, take a look around, absorb a little.
So I stayed for a few weeks in Villarica and the surrounding area and, as I said in my last post, decided this digital nomad had to move on and ended up passing through St Martin quickly to Bariloche.
Now I know that I’m supposed to be location independent for this moment in time, but noisy dorm rooms are the bane of a Cyber Gypsies life. To pay for single rooms all of the time would be prohibitive, three to four times the price of a dorm room, so we put up with sneaking around a sea of bunks looking for our own bed late at night, or tip toeing out so as not to wake the masses next morning.
I had been burning the candle at both ends, was out of balance, the kind of out of balance that had me feeling unhealthy and unwanted. My two favourite girls were at opposite end of the world, my daughter growing up fast at her school in India, my girlfriend in Australia looking for a job. For a moment I felt like I was in a very lonely place.
I was told about a hostel out of town just under a gorgeous viewpoint called the Cerro Campanolo. This was perfect as I needed a different perspective and here I have been for almost a week now.
It’s not that it’s lonely here, there is a business that rents cycles operating from here, one with a reputation for good service and a kind disposition. This means there is a constant flow of people passing through renting bikes to cycle around the gorgeous lakes of the Llao llao region here.
The owner of the Hostel Andy also lives here and they broke the mould when they made him.
Andy has a wonderful taste in music and, since I’ve been here, there has rarely been a time when there hasn’t been any music playing. This would be a pain in the arse were it not for the fact that it is pure honey. I have been reminded of music I hadn’t heard for years or told of music I may never have ever heard of.
Andy is also a dedicated Beetles fan as any discerning music fan would be, so we also got to watch the DVD of the Paul McCartney gig in Buenos Aires that he went to recently. Pure joy.
There have been Candombe drummers passing through (different to Candomble, more the southern half of S.America than the Bahia Candomble) and little gatherings of Andy’s friends, much good humour and chit chat. It’s a joy to be here.
There have been down sides though. My Spanish is not that good and when first here I tended to retire to the den I had made in my dorm room. I also had work to do and I can get a little too focused on that to entertain an outside world, as per most blokes multi-tasking is expecting a bit much. In those moments there have been possible misunderstandings, a feeling of opportunities lost to get on, but those were few.
But by far the best thing about this place is it’s location.
Down the road is the 5Star Llao llao hotel. It is 5Star not just because of the service, but because of the fact that it sits in the middle of one of thee most gorgeous places on this planet as you can see from the accompanying pictures. But the Llao lao costs for one night more than the Refugio Cordillera costs for a month and I bet they don’t know a good Raul Mido record when they see it at the Llao llao. Enough said.
As I said before this hostel also sits underneath what National Geographic said was one of the top 10 viewpoints in the world, the Cerro Campanario. It looks deceptively low when you see it from below, but you can either take an easy cable car ride or walk the 30 minutes to the top and be greeted by one of the most stunning vistas I have ever seen.
So far I have popped up the Cerro Campanario every day except today (raining) and another day when I walked up to the Refugio Lopez.
The Refugio Lopez lies in amongst snowcapped peaks and sits very precariously on a pile of rocks high up on Cerro Lopez. To get to it is a reasonably demanding walk that my body hungered for, I hadn’t really exercised since leaving The UK and I needed it.
Oddly enough on the way up I passed, not far from the top, three playboy models and their entourage filming them frolicking for the good of playboy magazine. They had made it to the top as there is a service road that zig zags up the mountain too. One of them asked me if I lived in the little pink house up there. She pointed up to the Refugio. I said yes, yes I do and left her to frolic in the snow for the good of impotent men everywhere.
The Refugio was a slightly sad affair. A toilet with no toilet paper (I assume they make a good proportion of their money from selling bog roll) a few dorms upstairs and two chilly looking fellows in the kitchen surfing the internet on a laptop. I quickly left and walked a little farther up the mountain.
I am now back at the Refugio Cordillera, the hostel where I am staying. I sleep on a bunch of mattresses in my snug sleeping bag by a large triangular shaped window, when I wake up the sun turns the mountains different shades, all of the colours of the rainbow, just like the Taj Mahal does. But these monuments to love have been around for a whole lot longer.