... Bruce Meets World ...

Road Trip
From the Andes to Iguazu


Time for coincidence

When we shipped Bruce from the Netherlands to Buenos Aires, we had a clear idea of what our route would be. We would drive from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and from Ushuaia up to Alaska via the famous "Panamericana" or "Pan American Highway". Many people drive this route from Canada/Alaska and then back down.

 

After we were on the road for five months and slowly but surely discovered how big the "vanlife" world is, through social media, we always saw the same pictures popping up of the  places we still had to visit. Furthermore, we met more and more people who made the same trip, but the other way around or who had already made it.

This caused a lot of unsolicited advice including, negative experiences. On top of it, we were working actively on some relationship issues and were not in the mood for those opinions, unsolicited advices, and similar pictures. When we started this project, we thought our idea was very original and could not have thought about the big travel community that already existed.

We, therefore, decided to change tack and track, by leaving a lot more of our decisions to fate and see where the wind takes us.  Yeah, our destination is still Alaska, but the road to there is up in the air. We were inspired by the book "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho, and during a hike in Patagonia, we took a white and a black stone back home (Bruce). These two stones had become our new route guides, even more so, we use them in all kinds of decisions to which we both have neither the answer nor doubts. This resulted in us not driving the Ruta40 in Argentina, towards the Pan Americana via Chile, Bolivia, Peru and further up, we set course to Brazil instead, intending to celebrate New Year's Eve in Suriname! We had mapped out the route we were going to take through Brazil but immediately stated that we would mainly let us guide by locals and our newest companions, the white and black stone. Our journey felt ours again! So, after travelling for more than six months, we passed the place where the drive started, there where we picked up Bruce from the harbour, Zarate in the province of Buenos Aires. To be honest, when we saw Zarate on the road signs and realized that we only were 1.5 hours away, we scratched our heads. We both had a good laugh and gave each other a high five... "Whatever! This is our adventure!"

Winter sports in Las Leñas
 

By now it was full winter in Argentina, so we were out of season for most of the sights on the Ruta 40. Siete Lagos is a particularly beautiful part of the Ruta 40. You drive past seven large lakes between Bariloche and San Martin de Los Andes. It was so beautiful despite the rough weather we encountered. Winter in the Andes also means snow, so we came up with the brilliant idea to go on winter sports in Argentina. We headed for Las Leñas, one of the most beautiful and famous ski resorts in South America and arrived just before high season. The icing on the cake was the snow! I had snowed a lot of, and the slopes were full of powder! We read on the app iOverlander, that wild camping was not appreciated, and you must sleep in a hotel. We thought it was worth a try and drove onto the P1, the parking lot that started at the foot of the ski-lifts. Bruce, our attention grabber, put a big smile on the parking attendant’s faces. We told them about our trip, explained to them an expensive hotel did not fit in our budget and that we would respect the rules if they could make an exception for us. A tour through Bruce and lying under the bus to explain the 4x4 system won them over. We could stay a week behind the barriers, and we even got electricity and a garden hose for when we had to refill our water tank and all this for only the standard parking fee. We only recently changed tack and were already grateful for the white and black stones! It may have been extremely cold, especially with night temperatures of around -12, but the sun was shining, and we were snowboarding. Being together, apres-ski, dancing and falling asleep at 8 p.m. was healthy for our relationship!

Familia Alcaraz
 

In Las Leñas we got a private message via Instagram from Fran Alcaraz, saying: "Hey guys, let us know when you come to Mendoza. It would be great fun for my family and me to meet you, and we would like to organize an Argentine Assado."


Regardless, as wine lovers, we were planning to drive to Mendoza and celebrate our fifth anniversary in Valle de Uco. At the bottom of this blog post, we share our top five wineries and top five restaurants in Mendoza. At the end of our stay in Mendoza, we decided to visit Fran Alcaraz shortly for lunch at his work. Once we arrived at Alcaraz Gourmet, it took us by surprise. We arrived at a charming family business that specializes in vegetarian delicacies and gourmet products. Read more about this on our "Featured page" about Alcaraz Gourmet.

 

The door that opened for us at Alcaraz Gourmet was the door to a new and extraordinary friendship. Lunch became dinner at Fran's house, with his wife Chila and their two sons Gonzi and Facu. The dinner resulted in a 14-day stay. They introduced us to their friends, invited us to many drinks, dinners, hikes, and other sports. We went to the mountains with the six of us to chill all afternoon by the cosy fire in a refugio. We held sleepovers, movie nights and made breakfast pancakes for their youngest son Gonzi in Bruce. As the days passed, it became more difficult to leave, but after two weeks, the time had come to call it quits and get on with the trip. We knew that this was not the end, but just the beginning of a lifetime friendship, we will meet again. With a tear and a smile, we headed towards our next adventure.

Me-time...

 

After Mendoza, we drove in the direction of Cordoba, via Villa Carlos Paz and the "Tierras". The weather improved, and the temperature increased. We were working out again and enjoying the outdoor life, Bart even ran for 14km in Villa Carlos Paz. We had driven back into civilization, and the urge for city tripping came back. We decided to visit a city every Wednesday, exploring it individually, do our own thing and meet again around dinner time.

 

The first experiment was in Cordoba, we left the bus around 09hrs and met each other again around 6 p.m. somewhere on a terrace. Bart made of his “city trip” a pragmatic trip, with a list of necessities for the bus and had filled his day with getting them. Semora, on the other hand, rushed to visit as many museums as possible and to discover the best cup of coffee in Cordoba.

 

We did this because we wanted to give each other some space and wanted to know if we would miss each other during such a day. It may sound weird, being together in a small area and being considerate to each other 24/7, is demanding. We did not have a clue, so we tried this to find out what works for us. When we saw each other again after this first "alone day", it turned out that we had both been busy and thought it was more boring without each other.

 

Our second experiment was in Rosario. We left the bus around 9 a.m. and would meet each other again in the evening. Around 11 a.m. Semora called Bart: "Hey, it is me. This is stupid. I want to walk through this city with you. I miss you, and I love you. Shall we go forward together again?" "Hahaha!" Bart said, "I miss you too, and I love you!"  End of the experiment.

 

We figured out that better communication and being honest to yourself works for us, like indicating that you need some “me-time” without annoying the other.

Parque Nacional Ibera
 

The largest wetlands of Argentina, where capybaras and caymans are a certainty. We drove over there, pedal to the metal (80 km/h), excited to see animals in the wild again and to experience a completely different climate in beautiful Argentina. The beauty of the country continued to amaze us.

If you have the chance to visit, do not hesitate! For a day on the water over the Mirinay River, spotting caymans, capybaras, boas and the many bird species, we paid 3000ARS per person.

Iguazu or Foz do Iguaçu
 

Surreal, how magnificent these waterfalls are. We had never seen such grand waterfalls in our lives. The immense power of the water is just jaw-dropping. It literally made us emotional. Nature is so stunning; we continue to marvel at it with love. Nothing can match the power, vastness, beauty, and enchantment of pure nature.

 

You can visit The Iguazu Falls from the Argentine, Brazilian, and Paraguayan sides, of which the first two are the most popular. On the Argentinean side, you have the chance to walk through, above and below the waterfalls, feeling the power running through your whole body. From the Brazilian side, it gives you an overview of the waterfalls. They look breathtaking from both sides, we recommend visiting both sides. But, if we had to choose, we would recommend the Argentine side without a doubt.

 

Here, in Iguazu, after six to seven extraordinary months (of which 1.5 months in Chile), we salute Argentina. Thank you, Argentina, for the people we met and gave us so much love and warmth, for the lessons we have experienced both individually and together and for your grandeur. Hats off to you. In our next blog post, we take you on our adventures in Brazil.

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