Sam and Zab are a British couple who, despite having been together for over seven years, never lived together, and for several years, weren’t even in the same country. In January 2013, they left Europe with one-way tickets to Buenos Aires to start their indefinite adventure together. Hopefully, they won’t end up killing each other. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Sam and Zab in Chile and Argentina.
Note: This post was originally published in 2013, and has since been updated for accuracy of links.
Day 1 – Thursday
7:30AM: Zab comes in from his roll-out mattress on the floor in the living room to the small spare room where I’m sleeping to wake me up. I wave him away, but open my eyes, begrudgingly. The sun is just coming up over the misty river in…where are we? Oh yes, Valdivia, southern Chile.
I get up, dress, and put a piece of fruit in my mouth before our Couchsurfing host, Ana who speaks no English, gets up to say goodbye to us. We hug, I thank her for her hospitality, and Zab uses his few words of Spanish to express his gratitude.
9:00AM: We’re happily reclining on the comfortable bus, pulling out of Valdivia and heading for the Argentine border.
The first couple of hours of scenery remind me a lot of southern England, with rolling hills and fields of cows, but once we start to approach the border, it becomes a much more dramatic, volcanic, forested landscape.
On the other side of the border, it feels like a different world: beautifully rugged steppe surrounding a shimmering blue lake so long it could be a fjord out to the sea.
4:00PM: Arriving in Bariloche, our first task is to check at the train station whether there are tickets on the next train to Viedma.
Luckily, this is an easy task as the train station is adjacent to the bus terminal. Unluckily, there are no tickets left. We then walk to our recently opened guest house, are welcomed by and have a lovely chat with the owners.
7:00PM: Fully aware that we are extremely early for dinner by Argentina standards, we follow a recommendation from our guesthouse owner for a vegetarian place on the other side of town. We have the place to ourselves, and are pleasantly surprised by the inventive, tasty food that is so much more pleasing than much of what we’ve been eating in Chile.
11:00PM: After a slow walk back from dinner and another chat with the owners of our guesthouse, it’s time for bed. It’s been a long day.
Day 2 – Friday
9:00AM: We wake up, look at the overcast skies and check the weather forecast. Rain is due, so we make the decision to spend the day indoors, catching up on work we’ve neglected over the last couple of days.
Day 3 – Saturday
9:00AM: I wake up to find Zab no longer in the room with me. Turns out he’s been trying this thing called ‘getting up early and starting work’.
I grumble past him and go down for breakfast. He follows me, and afterwards, I pick up my laptop and join him for a few hours of writing.
12:30PM: Suddenly hungry, I demand that we get some lunch. We rush around town, trying to find something suitable (I become both picky and somewhat unreasonable when hungry).
Finally, we settle on pizza, and consume a huge and cheesy one, which is neither pleasant nor unpleasant. On our way back home for a nap, we grab some supplies from the supermarket for tomorrow.
4.30PM: After more work, its Zab’s turn to get bossy, and he decides that we need to go out for coffee and cake. At the coffee, I roll my eyes, but at the mention of cake I am quickly swayed. We dutifully gobble up one of Bariloche’s delicious cake creations and pretend to do some more work from our mobile devices in the café.
Day 4 – Sunday
8:30AM: My attempt at early breakfast is followed by a long chat with our guesthouse owners, before we are finally ready to head out for the day.
We have a little trouble buying bus tickets (it’s a Sunday in a small Argentine city after all), but eventually make our way out of town.
11:30AM: Picking up our pre-reserved bicycles is easier and quicker than I expect (“here’s the bike, the helmet, please sign here so you can’t sue us”) and we’re off on the circuito chico, a 16km route around Lago Perito Moreno, a small lake joined to Lago Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche’s main lake.
We pass through pine forest, huge grey mountains and crystal blue waters; the scenery and weather are glorious and we are reminded why we travel. Also, we bump in to a German couple doing the same route who take pictures of us, and we take ones of them.
2:00PM: For lunch, we stop at an almost tropical looking beach on the coast of Lake Nahual Huapi and eat the empanadas we brought from town.
I nap lying down on the stony beach, and Zab listens to music while taking in the scenery. Then we press on, and complete the loop back to where we started.
5:00PM: We take the recommended chairlift up to Cerro Campanario for the amazing views over the lake, its islands, and the surrounding countryside. Zab proclaims that it is one of the best viewpoints of the kind he has ever visited.
Of course, we enjoy the views along with some well-earned cake. We agree that it is perhaps one of our most memorable days of this trip so far!
On the way back to town, we share the bus ride with the German couple whose paths we’d been crossing all day. We make plans to meet again tomorrow.
Day 5 – Monday
9:00AM: I’m up for breakfast at the time Zab is finishing his first round of work. We continue together for a few hours, interrupted only by the guesthouse’s cat that wants to play with us.
1:20PM: We dash to the appointed place for lunch to meet our new German friends, hopeful that our tardiness will not be overly conspicuous. Of course, they’ve already been there for half an hour, but are graciously unperturbed by the 20 minute wait for us.
We proceed to have pleasant and interesting conversations then decide to spend the rest of the afternoon together, which naturally means coffee and cake at one of Bariloche’s famous chocolate-shop-cum-cafés.
Day 6 – Tuesday
9:00AM: Breakfast. Smug Zab. The usual.
11:00AM: We take the bus out towards the circuito chico again, and try to find a place for lunch recommended to us. Unfortunately, in classic Argentine style, it is closed without notice. Fortunately, there is another place just down the road with nice food and great views over the lake.
3:00PM: Heading along the road towards the lake, we stop at a small beach and wander around for a while, enjoying the quiet of a midweek afternoon.
We decide to rent a two person kayak and go out on to the water. This mostly involves Zab sitting at the back doing the paddling, while I lounge in the front and take pictures.
Once we start paddling together, we build up to quite an impressive speed and the act of synchronized paddling induces a kind of zen-like meditative state, with no distractions other than the soothing splash of oar on water.
5:00PM: We hurry back to the bus stop from the lake just as the skies open above us.
We ride the crowded bus back to town in the storm, and then duck straight in to a café to warm up. Zab feels especially silly sitting in his still-damp swimming shorts while the rain comes down outside.
Day 7 – Wednesday
8:00AM: I crack open one eye to see that the storm outside hasn’t abated much. Zab is, of course, already working.
9:30AM: I finally get up for breakfast and we decide that today will be a work day. Also, travel plans must be made.
1:30PM: Finishing up a piece of writing, I dash out round the corner in a brief pause in the rain to grab some empanadas and a prepared salad for lunch, which we gobble up quickly then go back to work.
5:00PM: Zab insists on a café outing. I can’t find a reason to resist, so we wrap up against the wind and head out, hoping that tomorrow the weather will be better.
Sam and Zab are currently finishing up six weeks in Lima, before heading to Ecuador for two months, then back to Europe – all with no end in sight to their adventure. Here’s some more information on their current travel plans, and be sure to check out their site at Indefinite Adventure.