Settling in

NATE MENNINGER: From early morning work to amazing hikes, the past few days have been nothing short of amazing.

I began work at 7 a.m. the morning after I arrived. Of course, I went out the night before, and of course, I woke up twenty minutes late for work. Luckily my boss didn’t care. For the first hour, he taught me what to cook (oatmeal and bread) and how to set the table with the necessary sugars, milks, teas and maté — a local coffee-esque drink which has all the kick and none of the come down.

On a side note, maté is a huge deal here. The drink is used as a social gathering tool. The “preparer” prepares the bowl of maté and passes it around the room much like a joint. However, unlike a joint, when the bowl lands in your hands, instead of puff-puff and passing it, you drink the entire bowl then hand it back to the preparer for him or her to refill and redistribute. Maté not only has caffeine in it, but it also contains a muscle relaxant. As I’m sure many of you are aware, uppers and downers are always a good combination.

Anyways, I continued to learn about the hostel’s computer operating system and other necessary chores. It’s all pretty basic shit, but I’m still screwing it up on my second day. I never thought wiping a counter could be so difficult.

My shift ended at 12:30 and instead of hanging around the hostel like the other workers, I gathered my bags and shipped out for an adventure to Llao Llao, a nearby national park. The city of Bariloche is located within a national park and Llao Llao is just another park within the larger national park.

With only a backpack on, I took an hour long bus ride to Llao Llao where I managed to find a wooden hut that rents out bikes. The owner gave me a huge discount because I told him I worked for a hostel in town.

What followed was the most beautiful bike ride that I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. The redundancy is more than necessary, because othing but pictures and videos can do the journey justice:

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When I finished the 2.5 hour ride, I returned my bike to its owner. He kindly gave me a chocolate (what Barilochce is known for) and pointed me in the direction of my next expedition: a 30 minute hike up a mountain called Campanario which the locals claim boasts 1 of the world’s top 10 vistas. I shot up the mountain as fast as I could in hopes of catching the sunset, and luckily, I arrived just in time. I enjoyed two ham and cheese sandwiches while comfortably watching the sunset atop a rock at the peak at the mountain’s peak (Timelapse to follow).

Eventually, I found my way back into town around 8 pm. I was so exhausted that my legs nearly bucked as I climbed the few short stairs to the door. Fortunately, I arrived just in time for dinner, but unfortunately this is when I discovered that my hostel only serves vegan food. That’s right. No meat, no fish and no cheese. Organic food only…

Now, I have absolutely nothing against vegans or vegetarians but shit do I love my meat, and no matter how hard I try to shake my innate addiction, I always fail. Also, take into account that Argentina is best known for its meat…needless to say I sneak out everyday around noon to grab a $2 burger from the street vendor just a few doors down. Though, I think my fellow workers are catching onto my shenanigans. I’m extremely polite and work very hard, but I’m also the only one who eats meat, wants to drink and loves to party…

Given the circumstances, for the past two days I’ve made it my mission to find work elsewhere. I love free food and having a place to sleep, but truthfully I need money. Not only to feed my compulsion to party, but more so to fund the future. Rumor has it that a season pass to Cerro Catedral, the nearby mountain ski area, costs around $2,000 US! Prostitution isn’t off the table yet.

A few hours ago, I dropped off some resumes, or Curriculm vitaes as the latinas say, at the ski area and a few neighboring restaurants. I pray for a job at the ski area because I figure I can score a free pass, but at this point I’ll take anything!

I got hope baby and for now that’s all that matters.

I’ll check back in a few days with some updates.

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