NATE MENNINGER: It took me three airplanes, two buses, several taxis, a metro, countless friends and over 60 hours of travel to make it to San Carlos de Bariloche, but goddamn it I’m finally here and shit, this place is beautiful.
The epic journey began last Sunday night at a party when by some stroke of luck, I met a girl named Chelsea who kindly offered me a ride to D.C. the following morning. Without hesitation, I eagerly accepted her offer: 1) I could save some money, and 2) She was that rare mix of looks and laughs that you find in a woman. Only an idiot would pass up her company.
After our ‘When Harry met Sally’ moment passed, Chelsea dropped me off at my friend Albert’s place in D.C where I enjoyed free dinner and beer. With a few hours of rest under my belt, he drove me to the airport where I checked my bags, sped through security and boarded my plane at 11:30 p.m. The airline staff refused to charge me extra for my bags. I made sure not to complain.
On my way to Lima, the proud Peruvian next to me insisted that red wine was a great choice with both dinner and breakfast. He was right and as a result, the 7 hour flight felt more like a stroll in the park then an claustrophobic mess .
I passed through security yet again and boarded my second plane to Santiago, Chile. Here, I met Edith, the nicest and prettiest Peruvian woman in the world. In only a few short hours we became great friends. She taught me how to live, love and eat like a Latina. She even showed me pictures of her entire family — to my surprise, when I got to my hotel that night I received a Facebook message from one of her daughters. Who knows, maybe it’s the single daughter she mentioned….and who knows, it could be the start of something special!
One more flight and finally I arrived in Buenos Aires. I gathered my bags and searched for an ATM but each one I found was drained of money. Very odd for an airport, indeed. Fortunately, I stumbled across an American girl from Tennessee who not only helped me find a working ATM but also asked if I might split a cab with her into the city center. She was smarter than I am, as are most people, but she needed my Spanish sklls. Thank god for that degree.
I laid my bags down at my Airbnb then reunited with the American girl for dinner. Five or six beers later, I found myself running through the side streets of Buenos Aires at 2 a.m.
I refused to get a cab — to my friends from college, yes, somethings never change.
The following day, I ventured out into the sunny city of Buenos Aires to buy a bus ticket to San Carlos de Bariloche, my final destination. In my adventure, I stumbled across some of the city’s most incredible sculptures and spectacles including a huge clock tower, a free concert and Starbucks. I treated myself to a packaged sandwich and a bottle of water for only $5.50!
That night, I joined my Brazilian roommate for a few drinks at a club in Palermo — a district of Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, Wednesday’s in the Argentine winter don’t bode too well for crowds. So we danced and I drank, much more then expected, but come 2 a.m. I found myself running through the streets of Buenos Aires yet again.
The next morning, I made my way to the bus terminal for my 2 p.m. departure. I would’ve missed my bus too if it weren’t for a few policemen who kindly guided me to the loading area. Sadly, my lack of preparation removed any opportunity to buy snacks and drinks for the voyage. This was a HUGE miscalculation considering the bus trip lasted an uninterrupted 23 hours and the only meals served came in the form of the world’s smallest T.V. dinners.
I slept a lot, stared out the window and even attempted to read. Attempted is the key word. I arrived around noon the next day and after a short cab ride, I found my home at my hostel. A wooden home buried with the wall of a back alley street. My new boss informed me that work starts tomorrow at 7 a.m. I’ll definitely be hungover for that. because there’s no way I don’t drink after that bus ride.
The Patagonian city of Bariloche is absolutely beautiful and I can’t wait to see what the mountains have in store for me. Hopefully, I can snag some sweet photos and even better stories for you in the following weeks!