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Hitchhiking to Bariloche

Hitchhiking to Bariloche

[ September 8, 2009 - 4:10pm ]
Hitching in Argentina
On trips to South America, things can go from bad (stuck on the side of a dusty road) to good (drinking post-powder cerveza with friends) very, very quickly. Brigid Mander reports from Argentina.

The best way to catch a ride in Argentina? Sit in the dust on the side of Ruta 7, the international road from Mendoza, Argentina, to Santiago, Chile, on bags of ski gear and look forlorn. You will have, in my experience, in the first half-hour, a total of seven rides offered, in both directions, by the extremely friendly trucking community in the area.

My plan to ski in Portillo, Chile, has been derailed because my minibus is not coming since the pass has just closed. This is no fun for two reasons: 1) Here I am, by the side of the road with dozens of stranded truckers in Uspallata, Argentina. 2) It is completely dumping snow where I am supposed to be and I can’t get there.

This calls for a decision: Return to Mendoza and wait for the pass to open or rearrange my plans (again) and bail to Bariloche. Three truckers convoying to Mendoza invite me to lunch with them and then offer me a ride to the Mendoza bus station. My decision was made—Bariloche, here I come. After empanadas and milanesas, we head to Mendoza, where all three large trucks pull over at the bus station, blocking traffic, while my new friends get my bags out. I have never arrived at a bus station with such panache.

In Bariloche, it’s straight to the famous Huere Darquier family compound of all things skiing. It’s been snowing at Catedral Alta Patagonia too, and it’s good to have my friend Huere as a guide. She grew up here and then lived in Whistler while competing on the IFSA World Freeskiing Tour. The next day, we head up into a white, snowing cloud above the top chair. I see only Huere’s red jacket kicking steps ahead of me, and after a half hour or so, she announces that we have arrived.

I see nothing due to the low-hanging clouds, but we get ready and ski down a little bit before rock walls appear in the white, outlining chutes and features and, judging from the knee deep fluff we are in right now, really good skiing. Huere gives me the rundown on what is ahead, and I drop into perfect hero snow, arcing huge fast turns between features and out into the bowl below. It’s way better snow than I was expecting.

We come back to this area a few times, each run gets even deeper with the accumulating snow. A few trees help orient us, and at the end the day in a local Bariloche brewpub, La Cruz, I can only marvel at how, on trips to South America, things can go from bad (stuck on the side of a dusty road) to so good (drinking post-powder cerveza artesanal with friends) so quickly.  —Brigid Mander


Hitching in Argentina

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