I have a rock rolling around the interior of one boot. In the other boot I have a sticky sock, a big patch of stick right in the arch of my foot. I have no idea why it’s sticky and to be honest I don’t even want to guess. There has been no time to attend to either problem so I’ve accepted these two uncomfortable feelings as my friends for the moment. We have been on a bus since the early hours of the morning crossing the Andes mountains with jaw droppingly beautiful views, though holding Sebastian during this trip was sort of like holding a bag full of live octopuses, so the glimpses I caught, I made sure I fully appreciated. Now we find ourselves out of the bus and lined up for the second time, having been stamped out of Argentina, and now to be stamped into Chile. Our backdrop is stunning Volcan Lanin. Sebastian is pulling at my pants wanting to “go away” while we catch all our baggage out of the Chilean Xray machine.
I’m hopeful we’ll find in Chile what we enjoyed most in Argentina – family friendly campgrounds where we get to enjoy the company of local holiday makers and delight in stunning scenery.
It was all part of the planning. “Where are the families?” “How can we avoid being on the gringo trail?” “How can we maximise our Spanish speaking?” “Everything around the Bariloche area sounds good in the guide books – how can we find the best spots for our little family?” All of this we brainstormed on a large piece of paper while planning our trip. And a theory formed – if we pack our tent and spend as much time as possible in campgrounds instead of hostels/hotels (which our kids don’t like anyway!) we will hopefully be living with the locals.
And our theory worked!
As luck would have it our second campground “Traful Lauquin” in Villa Traful turned out to be the most family friendly campground in the whole of Patagonia! We spoke so much Spanish both Michael and I started thinking in it and Amaya and Sebastian had plenty of kids to play with. The campground was divided into little pods with communal washtubs for collecting water and washing dishes. Each pod also had communal parrillas (fire places). This was awesome because it created a little community where you continually cross paths with the same campers during your day. We could ask (without being nosey) “what are you cooking for dinner?” and benefit from a true cultural exchange.
We stayed for so long that we got to know some locals too. Marienella invited us to her bread and croissant factory. She taught herself how to bake when the closest volcano erupted 8 years ago, trapping the whole of Villa Traful so they were unable to get supplies. Now she provides many hotels far and wide frozen croissants that they can quickly cook for breakfast. She is also the chef at the “Provedoria“, our campgrounds shop/bakery/restaurant.
During our stay in Villa Traful we gathered recommendations to further family friendly campgrounds and ended up in a stunning place called Quila Quina.
And so here we are. Crossing the border hoping for more of the same. Smiling about the theory that worked. This trip held many unknowns for us so we are so so happy to have spent so much time with wonderful Argentinean families. I dump my backpack back in the bus and finally allow Sebastian to “go away” by dragging me into the carpark. Here we try to dance our sillies out so the next section of the bus trip might be a little less octopus like. I also get rid of the rock in my boot. But the sticky patch remains.