Bus day via Osorno
Today was a day of bus trips, and not much else. From Pucón, this morning I hopped on a bus, and rode the 4-hour trip to the town of Osorno, a bit further to the south (but still in the Chilean Lake District). There's really not much to see in Osorno: just another town in a very long country, and one that has very little open on a Saturday, at that. The main reason for stopping in Osorno (and the reason why I came here today), is because it's where the road begins that goes over the Andean mountains, and straight into Argentina. Anyway, I had to wait about 3 hours in Osorno, before I could grab a bus for the rest of today's trip: over the border, and to San Carlos de Bariloche.
The morning bus was with a local company, that specialises in servicing the Lake District area. As with all local buses, it stopped all the time, at every little town along the way. Bit of a pain: although the scenery was quite nice, with little lakes and lagoons peppering the landscape, and with green farmland rolling by in endless succession. In the grand tradition of in-bus entertainment here in South America, I saw the start of two movies on this trip, both of which carked it about 30 minutes in, due to the DVDs being scratched to buggery. Ah well: from what I saw, both Mr. Bean's Holiday, and Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, are very funny flicks, and I'll have to see the rest of them some day. I have to say, Mr. Bean is pretty much the perfect thing to watch on a bus (especially one with no sound): even just by watching the crazy antics in surround silence, you're still cracking up in hysterics.
The afternoon bus was with a company called Andesmar, that specialises in the international crossing. Quite a nice bus, and almost empty as well. Saw (all of) the movie The Pursuit of Happyness on this trip — it was a surprisingly good film, as well (considering that it was Will Smith in a soppy tragedy drama, I wasn't expecting much). Had some stunning scenery along the way: the road from Osorno to Bariloche winds through the Andes on its way over the border, and the mountains around there are covered in gorgeous, pristine, snow-covered forests at this time of year. Also, I met another Aussie guy on the bus, a South Australian called Dave.
Crossing the Chile-Argentina border was straightforward and without dramas, as you'd expect. On the Chilean side, they took my tourist visa and stamped my passport, and I was able to change all my pesos chilenos (all 180,000 of them — crazy Chilean inflation!) for pesos argentinos (which are a bit more normal, about 3.15 to the US dollar these days), at the currency exchange there. Good thing they had an exchange, too: because I couldn't find one that was open, back in Osorno. The Argentinean side was fine, as well: got a stamp and a new tourist visa from the customs officials, and then we continued on our way. They didn't check anyone's bags, or anything: so I managed to smuggle a bottle of Chilean wine (didn't get round to opening it last night) over the border. No idea whether or not that has now made me a violator of international law. If so, I'm shaking in my boots. :P
After the border crossing, it was a fairly uneventful few hours more of travelling (mainly in the dark), the rest of the way to Bariloche. We didn't pass much on the way, except for the little mountain ski resort town of Villa La Angostura, and a lot more lakes and forests. Made it into Bariloche by about 9pm this evening. Since the bus terminal in Bariloche is inconveniently located 2km's out of town, I had to get a taxi out of there. I convinced Dave to come with me to my hostel, Patanuk (he didn't know where he was going to stay), so we shared a cab over to it.
And that was my journey from Chile to Argentina. It's good to have finally made it. First day of spring, and it's the start of a whole new adventure.