Since Mendoza, going south has been the goal. As the nights are getting cooler and the days shorter the throngs of tourists get thinner. So south we go to Patagonia!
The first stop after Mendoza was San Rafael, a city of about 250,000 people. There, we were hosted by two lovely folks from Buenos Aires who had a rented home in the countryside. Gonzalo and Manna together and their cozy house made for one of the most pleasant homes I have ever visited.
Let me pause here to explain. Some of you may be wondering why two American travellers are staying in the home of a local. Well, I have a confession to make. Kayaking in Tigre, Tiki beach in Rosario, Special visits to vineyards in Mendoza, how did we do it all? Couchsurfing.org.
You can research this fantastic online tool yourself, but in short, Ben and I have been “Surfing” Argentina. We have had nothing but spectacular experiences and have met many wonderful people along the way. Without Couchsurfing, The farm may have been the only opportunity we would have had to meet and live with locals. Because of Couchsurfing, we have had a very unique experience that explores Argentina beyond the hostels, hotels and tourist offices via the people of Argentina.
We had a very relaxing time in San Rafael with Gonzalo and Manna. Gonzalo took us out to see the “Big Valley” up river, a beautiful canyon where the red rocks contrast with an ice-blue river. Back at home we shared good food, good wine and great conversations. Gonzalo is studying to be a psychologist, and Manna is a group therapist for schools in the area. Argentina, as it turns out, has a high number of psychologists. Seeing a psychologist is very popular amongst Argentines and is not looked down upon at all.
Next was Neuquén (pronounced Neh-oo-ken), the transportation hub for south-central Argentina. The surrounding area is full of rocks, scrubs, desert, oil deposits and Dinosaur fossils. Yes, Dinosaurs!
Ben and I had to take a break from travelling to see the Dinosaur museum in Chocón, an hour bus ride outside of Neuquén. We spent the day seeking out dinosaurs, and we were not disappointed.This museum was full of fossils and four re-created skeletons, one of GIGANOTOSAURUS (I kid you not). This predator is apparently the largest known predatorial dinosaur out there, bigger than T rex. Super cool and well worth it.
After we got our fill of Dinosaurs we got out of Neuquén to continue our quest south. We took the bus to Juanin de los Andes, a small fly fishing town in Patagonia, where our trekking adventures would begin.
…to be continued!