11.5 Bariloche

samfloy~21 February 2013 /Latin America/Travels

Bariloche, Argentina
Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bariloche is seen as the city as the gateway to Patagonia. It also seemed similar to Switzerland.

The centre was affluent, and there was chocolate, medical centres, and even St Bernhard dogs. The streets were full of craft stores, with local people selling their woodwork and other particulars. There were also families selling bags of lavender, and berries on the street corner.

Bariloche is also where I had my first bit of Argentinean steak. Picked it up from the local supermarket, yet with a distinct lack of decent frying pan, I outsourced the cooking to a local guy at the hostel who was firing up the barbeque. It was very decent, and was followed the next night by another in a local restaurant.

It was on the second day that, with another bloke from the previous town, I went for an explore of the Lake a little out of Bariloche. On alighting from the bus, we were met my a small dog who undertook himself to be our guide – trotting ahead and checking back on us all the way to the waterfall a few kilometres up.

He left a little disappointed at not joining the spoils of the food in our rucksacks.

The weather was pretty miserable which meant staying out longer was not really viable. On the way back to town, we had to take an extended walk back to the hostel after a bus stop mix up. This allowed an insight into the less touristy life of Bariloche. Lot’s of shacks and (more) wandering dogs.

Back at the hostel got chatting to an Argentinean economist from Buenos Aires. He gave a concise breakdown with what was happening in the country at the moment, especially with regard to the ban on people buying US Dollars.

It all stems from the Argentinean inflation being 25%. Consequently, if people have savings in pesos, they will lose a quarter of their value over the year. Therefore they would rather own Dollars, which are more likely to hold their value. This however, would affect the exchange rate and, it is supposed, would cause further inflation.

The result is an official rate of 5:1 and a black market (though here it is a “blue market”) of around 8:1, as locals want to get their hands on the greenback.

There are a number of knock on effects that we went into (Argentineans spending their pesos more readily, and so not saving etc.), but he then had to go catch his plane.

That’s enough with economics for the time being I suspect…

Being the gateway to Patagonia, it was also my last chance to find a coffee shop called “The Old Patagonian Espresso”. But unfortunately it was not to be.

In the morning it was a case of filling up from the extensive breakfast laid on each morning, completing some admin, and again packing up before another night bus north.

Lake by city centre
Rainy view of lake
Local guide
Local guide disappointed
Street crafts