Getting to that point was a challenge. Tuesday night we missed our first bus and had to leave an hour later than planned, pushing our arrival time in Madryn closer to 4:00 pm, at which time the shuttle leaves to Piramides out on the Peninsula. We actually arrived at exactly 4:00, hopping off our bus with just enough time to buy tickets and hop on the other. Unfortunately what we didn't have time to do was buy our tickets for Saturday to get back to Buenos Aires, which would later become a problem. But before it did, we proceeded to have an absolutely incredible week.
We got to Piramides and sprinted up to the hostel-- not far since Piramides has basically 2 streets and they aren't very long-- with two French girls who had gotten off the same bus. Diva, the fantastic old woman who we had pestered with questions and estimates and help planning our trip, greeted us.
|Look at her. She's awesome.|
We were a little nervous that night when they told us that the sea had been rough and we might not be able to do the water-based excursions (whale watch, snorkeling) that we had planned on. With some free time, we got a bit of studying done and then went and had an excellent seafood dinner at a really cool little restaurant called La Estacion. And we slept well that night, thanks to a bounty of heavy blankets and beds more comfortable than the ones we have here at the Resi.
The next day we woke up early for breakfast, which each morning was personally served to us, instead of there being a self-serve buffet like most hostels. Diva sets a place for each of her guests and makes sure they have everything they need. A little before noon we went down to the Bottazzi excursions office for our whale watch.
|It went well.|
|Whales are HUGE...and awesome.|
When we got back to shore, we stopped at the little market and bought some bread, cheese, wine, sauce, and pizza crusts, having decided to cook for ourselves in the hostel. We made a really excellent pizza and enjoyed the wine. Staying at this hostel was sort of like being at someone's house, most likely a grandmother. It was cozy and relaxed and homey. I loved it.
The next day, while sitting outside Bottazzi, waiting to head out on our land excursion across the Peninsula, Miguel, the guide from the whale watch, saw us and came over to chat. He asked us if we were on the whale watch the previous day, and we said yes. He asked if we were staying in Piramides, and we said yes. Then he invited us to an asado that night, to which we undoubtedly said yes. This was just after we had been invited out for drinks by the adorable kiosco boy across the street. We ended up missing that opportunity, but it didn't matter, because the asado was one of the best nights I've had since I've been here. We arrived and realized we were the only outsiders there. Everyone else was either a Bottazzi employee or a local business owner. It was like we had been invited to hang out with the cool kids. I'm not sure why we were the only tourists welcomed into this inner circle, but I'm glad we were. We were with the core of the Piramides social scene. These people were the life of the party. After we finished a delicious meal, we went across the way to a little bar where we sat and drank and chatted well into the night. They didn't let us pay for a thing. I think my favorite character-- because these people were really characters; I think a movie should be made about this town-- was the ship captain, a wizened old guy who got really drunk and started whispering life's secrets to Maria, then later told me I was an angel with soft hands. They all seemed to be calling him Nene, which is an affectionate term that means little boy. He was hilarious. They all were so much fun; I hated to see that night end.
|The bar we went to|
|A sea lion wandering the beach at Punta Norte|
After the snorkeling expedition, we paid, changed, said goodbye to Diva and, at 6:00pm, got on the colectivo back to Puerto Madryn. We had been calling the bus services for nearly two straight days with no answer, so we were hoping to be able to buy tickets to Buenos Aires for that same night, once we got there. That did not happen. All of the guys at the ticket windows looked at us in disbelief when we asked for a bus that night. They didn't have to check their computers; they knew there was no way we were getting out of town that night. In disbelief, we literally asked every different company and they all said the same thing. Without really grasping our situation, we bought tickets for the 2:00pm bus the next day and found ourselves a hostel for that night. We both had the blues, thinking that if we were going to be stuck down here for another night, we'd have liked to at least still be in Piramides, instead of stupid Puerto Madryn. (It's not a bad town, really, we were just bummed and in shock). At the hostel that night, a drunk guy offered us free dinner and gave us a bottle of Fernet. We drank, we ate, we finally got on the computer-- since Diva's hostel hadn't had reliable WiFi-- and we went to sleep. The next day we got on the bus, and twenty hours later arrived back in this beautiful city, where it had to have been nearly eighty degrees. It felt like a homecoming, which I guess it sort of was. Though this is obviously not home (I'm noticing more lately the absence of the little comforts of home that I'll go without for six more weeks), it's a home base for the time I'm here. And I love it.
Here are some things we saw on our land excursions...
|The beach in Piramides|
|A mother elephant seal and her pup|
|Male elephant seal|
|The view on the 5km walk to see some sea lions|
|Punta Norte and the elephant seals|
So, in sum:
- Days away from Bs As: 5
- Nights in hostels: 4
- Nights on buses: 2
- Hostels stayed in: 2
- Mind-blowing meals: 3
- Nights where we got free food and alcohol: 2
- Nature excursions: 3
This week begins the part of the semester where I actually have to do work. But next weekend is Mar del Plata, the weekend after is Eric Clapton, and who knows what I'll be up to in the last two weeks of October. I'll be sure to write about it. Chau!