83. Summer in Bariloche (Bariloche, Argentina)
Christmas and New Year were both spent in similar fashion, with a gringo asado with Hamish & Lisa and other friends in the Kiwi House. Pozzy, a very good friend of mine from BA came down and spent New Year with us. Like most Argentines, he's very close to his family and he missed them a lot, as New Year is a family occasion here just like Christmas. In NZ our New Year's Eve is centred around the countdown to midnight. Here the tradition is to toast with your family at midnight with Champagne or sidra (cider) from champagne bottles, and pass the night visiting your friends' and extended family's houses and toasting with them. Partying comes later.
As far as my work goes, it's been up and down. I had a good run of work just before Christmas, taking people fly-fishing, some rafting, a trip to Mount Tronador, but then come early January it had all dried up.
I later tried hooking up some work by putting flyers up in hostels but it was tougher than I expected to get a big enough group of people together to make it worth my while. I did make a couple of trips - one though the Ruta de los Siete Lagos (Seven Lakes Route) with a bunch of backpackers. Unlike any other tour in town, we stopped for an amazing swim in Lago Espejo (Mirror Lake), which had sand and was much warmer than any of the Bariloche lakes, and later did a bit of bridge-jumping. It was a great day, and I had as much fun as they did. But the tough, rutted, corrogated-iron like dirt roads took their toll on the van and whatever profit I made got spent on subsequent repairs.
So I was once again waiting for the phone to ring through agencies. As it is, I'm working 3 days a week or so but usually only with airport transfers. I'm making just enough to survive, but I have to remember that now is the high season, and come March that work will dry up. The norm is to make enough now in the high season to get me through the leaner months, and that I'm not doing. I've spoken to other drivers who've come here from out of town and they told me they had a hard time entering the market as well - which is fair enough. It's all about local contacts (as it is anywhere) and I don't want to scrape by another year or two to get going. So I'm done. I've come to the decision to sell the van and move on to something else - most likely back to NZ with my girlfriend and getting back into the computer industry. I do like living here, but I'm sick of the struggle. Strangely, my van is worth more now than it was when I bought it, even though it should have depreciated a year. I guess because of the high inflation here.
So this year should be interesting, since I'm gonna have to support my girlfriend in NZ while she learns English well enough to get a job. I kind of doubt she'll adjust to NZ, seeing as she didn't adjust to Bariloche, but she wants to give it a try and we're hopeful things will work out. And fortunately Argentines can get a working holiday visa for NZ.
To my readers out there, this isn't my last post, I'll keep on blogging.