Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day 254: Llao Llao

The forecast wasn't too promising, but it looked like we could get in a short morning hike before the thunderstorms rolled in. We were interested in seeing Llao Llao park and from CampaƱairo, two days prior, it appeared that we'd have good views from its peak. The bus ride in was longer than we expected, meaning we knew we'd be short on money on our silly Bariloche bus card trying to return home, but we left that problem for later.

We jumped off the bus at the port, glanced up at the impressive Llao Llao Hotel across from us, then turned down Circuito Chico, a beautiful country road popular with cyclists. Large trees lined the narrow road, opposing limbs arching together overhead. The smell of fir trees and the chill in the air had our minds thinking Christmas was nearing, our internal instincts not realizing we were in the Southern Hemisphere.

We turned onto the trail and started our leisurely stroll to the top. Its gentle incline and soft woodsy floor allowed us ample opportunities to glance around, watching the tiny birds flit about, explore the mosses and breathe in the smell of nature. The prospective rainstorms and early hour meant we had the forest all to ourselves.

After about an hour of happy wandering, we came to a fork in the trail and we turned up towards the cerro. Our tired legs whined against the incline but we arrived at the summit in due time. Since our elevation was still quite low, we'd stayed underneath the treeline, so it wasn't quite a panorama. But the view into the river valleys was pleasing all the same. We layered up to avoid the chill and sat down to admire the scape over lunch.

It didn't take us long to jog back down the trail, thankful that it was nothing like the run the day before. We walked out of the park and to a nearby store where we'd been advised we could buy a ticket back to town. Thwarted by the darn Spanish siesta once again, we sat dejected on their outside bench. We had few options left so we agreed to attempt to pay in cash on the bus, though we knew it wouldn't work. In the end, another gracious passenger let us use her preloaded card and we paid her the cash.

Our plan had been to stop for groceries on our way back so we wouldn't have to go out in the rain (and we were a little hungry since we'd had to skimp on breakfast from our food being stolen), but we were undecided about which grocery store to go to. We'd seen there was one not far out of town on the bus and the distance seemed relatively similar to walking through town except we'd have the view of the lake as we walked, so we decided to try it. We jumped off the bus, loaded up our already full bags with food, two bottles of wine and four bottles of beer (liquor was cheaper there!) and turned for home. The load was a little heavy but it wasn't far...

Or so we thought. After a few bends in the road and too many minutes passing with us trudging uphill, we conceded that we had a ways to go. The signpost marked 8 km to town, but that couldn't be right...

We took turns carrying the heavy shoulder bag, tried to enjoy the intermittent scenery while still keeping an eye on the constant traffic whipping by. We slowly grew cranky and dispirited.

We'll save you the gory details, but 8 km later, we collapsed on our bed, thankful that the rain had held off and our legs had held up. It wasn't until later that we discovered it has been a blessing in disguise. It was actually a holiday so our regular grocery store had been closed. Sometimes you can't see the silver lining until later...

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