If you've been reading South American news, you may have seen that Patagonia has been getting some nasty weather. In addition to the impact of the eruption of Chaiten, this has served to put a real damper on the movement of vehicles, both airborne and those whose wheels are constantly in contact with terra firma. Let me bring you up to speed on what I've been doing and where I've gone. I put together a timeline of events by which to update my travel map and I'm feeling lazy, so I'm just going to use that timeline to update you, rather than writing a full-blown, fancy blog post.
18th — took bus at 8:00 AM from El Calafate to El Chalten
— arrived at El Chalten around noon and did day hike
— spent the night at Rancho Grande hostel
19th — woke up and did day hike
— at 5:00 PM, took bus back to El Calafate
— hung out at America del Sur Hostel, slept on sofa, and showered (at 3:00 A.M.)
20th — took bus at 4:00 AM to Río Gallegos
— arrived at about 8:00 AM
— left at 9:00 AM for Puerto Madryn
— arrived at Comodoro Rivadavia at about 9:00 PM
— got stuck here all night because of snow and road closures (guy in bus seat behind me on the bus was snoring, so I went into the station and slept on the floor—it was hard, but I slept a couple hours, went back into bus at 5:30 A.M. and slept a bit more)
— bought ticket to get from Puerto Madryn to Buenos Aires (decided I wanted to get away from this mess)
21st — left at 11:00 A.M. for Puerto Madryn
— arrived at Puerto Madryn at 6:00 PM
— left for Buenos Aires at 9:00 PM
22nd — arrived in Buenos Aires at 3:30 PM
As you can see, I didn't go to Bariloche, didn't hitchhike the Carretera Austral, and didn't spend more time in Patagonia. Multiple highways to Bariloche were closed (Bariloche had gotten about four feet of snow, I was told), the road north from El Chalten was closed (I was going to hitchhike that direction to get to the Carretera Austral), and things were a general mess.
So, here I am, back in Buenos Aires. I'm hoping to get my Brazil visa replaced and get all my stuff which had been stolen and which I have now repurchased with insurance money mailed to me here from the States. I already saw a few of my old friends my first day here. I'll plan on spending some time with them and maybe even taking a few more Spanish classes with my old tutor to make use of my time here.
I hope to be out of here within less than two weeks. The plan is to visit northern Chile and Argentina—the Atacama desert and whatever else strikes my fancy—then continue north. I may visit some friends in São Paulo, but then I'll plow ahead with my planned course—Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, then down the ol' Amazon River.