If you’re thinking about traveling to Patagonia, it’s worth it to know how to get here… Read PART TWO here before you proceed…
TIME: I don’t know
PLACE: Chalten, Argentina
I see some girl writing in her journal sitting on the cracked concrete of the bus terminal in El Calafate. It’s just she and I. So I say:
“Vas a Chalten?” (U going to Chalten?)
“Oh… you speak English.”
“Yeah, I mean I’m Puerto Rican… But I’m from Texas… But just went to school in Los Angeles.”
What a colorful salad you are–But I didn’t say that. I just said:
“Right. Uhhh…. So, yeah… is this the right bus?”
I was sittin on the ground, leaning against the wall with my backpack next to me with multiple bus ticket stubs and passport hangin from out my backpack, exhausted from the walk up the hill from my hostel to get to the terminal…
I had been sitting there twenty minutes or so and there was no one there. Except for me and that chick.
“Are you drawing shit or writing things?” I ask her, trying to stir up convo.
“Well I’m a painter but—“
So I cut her off–
“I DRAW! I’m not very good” I told her
“I’m sure you’re really good.”
That’s what people always say until they realize I’m actually not that good.
Anyway, the bus finally came and we talked the whole way there. She told me Mandy offered her a job at some hotel.
“So is that where you’re staying?” I asked her.
“I don’t know yet, I need to find her.”
I wasn’t sure what that meant, but whatever, I didn’t feel like holdin up the conversation.
“So where are you staying if you can’t find her?”
“I don’t know yet, you?” She asked me.
“Some hostel I reserved. You can follow me over there and see if they got any beds if you want.”
“Cool, yes. Thank you.”
But like… obviously this chick can come to my hostel, you know? Maybe you don’t. Whatever. Anyhow…
When the bus pulled into the El Chalten bus terminal we were both confused.
The town looked like a buncha shack-like houses next to some mountains.
This is where I’m staying?
Everyone had told me this spot was dope.. but uhh.. is it? I was in the middle of noooowwhhheeereeee.
So I google map my way to my hostel with the Puerto Rican Texan and walk into a tin barn marked ‘HOSTEL’… this must be it, I thought.
“Tengo una reserva” (I got a reservation)
“Uhhh creo q no.” (I don’t believe you do…)
“Isn’t this Glaciar hostel?”
“Mmmm perdón, no te sigo (I can’t remember the exact shit she said… But basically she said I don’t understand you).
So I said it again in Spanish… “este no es el Hostel Glaciar?”
“Ahhhhhh… No.” (Ahhhhh… no.)
“Oh… dónde está?” (Oh. Where is it?)
“Ahí…” and she pointed somewhere. “Tres cuadras y una escierda” (three blocks then a left)
But the town had no street signs, so every direction she gave me was in meters:
300 meters over there.
Then the Puerto Rican girl from Texas who studied in California that had followed me over to the wrong hostel asked the woman who appeared to own the place that I’d been talking to:
“Conoces una chica se llama Mandy?” (You know a girl named Mandy?)
Lol. Do you know Mandy? Is she serio–
“Si claro q conozco Mandy!!” (of course I know Mandy!!)
“Donde vive?” (Where does she live) The Puerto Rican asked. Her name was CiCi btw. But anyway, I was just thinkin to myself:
Is this chick serious?
Who the hell is Mandy?
But she got directions in meters to where Mandy lived for tomorrow I guess. Anyway, I rolled a cigarette and we both left and walked in the direction the woman had pointed for us to go to get to the right hostel.
We pass a house with a buncha people hangin outside drinkin beers an shit. This must be it. So we walk inside.
“Tengo una reserva” I say again.
“No hay reservas” (there are no reservations)
Wha? The fuck?
“Este es la glaciar hostel?” (This is the Glaciar hostel?)
“No… ahí” and he pointed somewhere. “100 meters ahi”.
100 METERS WHERE?!?!
But on our way out, CiCi asked the buncha people hangin outside the hostel:
“Conoces una chica se llama Mandy?” ( you know a chick named Mandy?)
Is this girl nuts? She’s just gonna ask if—
“Si! Mandy la conozco!” (Yes I know Mandy!)
WWHHHOOOO IISSS MMAANNNDDDYYYYY????
But anyway, they also tell her where Mandy lives.
“Do you think it’s too late to knock on her door?” CiCi asks.
“Nah es temprano!” (No it’s early!)
“You’re just gonna knock on Mandy’s door?” I asked her.
“Who is Mandy again?”
“I’ve never met her.”
Whatever… Traveler’s stories never make sense. So I head in the direction of the right hostel… hopeful that I might one day actually find it.
Ahhh there it is!
CiCi sighs a sigh of relief. So do I.
We walk in.
“Tengo una reserva.”
“No, no hay reserva por Greg” (nope. No reservations for Greg.)
WHAT IN THE FUCKIN HELL?
But I didn’t say that. What I said was, “Well can I sleep here?”
“Si claro, 200 pesos” (of course. 14 bucks)
“Puedo ver el cuarto?” (Can I see the room?)
There’s some Japanese couple in the room and it’s a basic room. Two bunk beds and a tiny bathroom with no soap or toilet paper. It also says throw the toilet paper in the trash, not in the toilet… Which is gross, even though like I said, there was no toilet paper.
Anyway, I decide to smoke that cigarette I rolled…
I realized when I get outside that CiCi was gone.
WHERE IS SHE?!
Whatever… I finish my cigarette and and hang out for like ten mins talking to Nacho, the dude who works at the hostel, then take out my money to buy my bed when alla sudden…
CiCi shows back up in her backpack!
“I thought you left. I was like what the fuck?”
“No I went to go find Mandy.”
“WHO IS MANDY?!”
“I’m not so sure she exists.” She jokingly responds.
Goddam Mandy… Anyway we stayed the night in the hostel and when I woke up, CiCi was gone. She left a note with Nacho downstairs that just said, ‘went to find Mandy. See you in Peru’ — Cause we might be in Peru at the same time.
I was still wakin up and a bit confused. But… Uhh okay, I guess.
Later that evening in the hostel, after I got back from some waterfall that I hiked to that the barista at the cafe that I went to told me to check out… While I was eating an asado dinner that the Japanese couple in my room offered to cook me…
I got a message from CiCi on WhatsApp:
“I found Mandy.”
Well… I’ve had juuussst about enough of this.
So the next morning, I set out in Patagonia to find Mandy for myself…