Monday, September 10, 2012

Beauty and Beatings – A Recall of the Adventures in the Andes – PART 4

Yeah buddy ski day today and I have a ride up there, no hitchhiking!!! Woohoo!!  Alright gear on, skis in the car, day pack ready.  Let’s go. 
We’re about a 20 minute ride up a dirt road to the resort.  It’s overcast and slightly warmer than desired.  My mind skips around various thoughts due to the excitement of skiing and the anxiety of not skiing battling it out; this ride couldn’t go fast enough.  We pull up to the middle parking lot. OTTO LIFT CLOSED!!!  Just the beginner’s poma is open and that is obviously not worth the price of admission.  My heart drops in time with the rising frustration created from a down day, one that wouldn’t have happened in America, a closure of the top lifts due to 25 to 40 kph winds (and the bottom lifts weren’t running due to no snow).  No why wouldn’t this have happened in the States?  Because a few years back the resort bought some second hand 50 year old Chinese pieces of crap cheapo lifts to save money.  And you pay for what you get; no secondary safety mechanisms on the tower rollers, a poor mountain top location with no windbreak, and twice the cost due to constantly breaking down from being a piece of poo.  Yep.
Dejected and disappointed we headed back into town to our hostel, once again the ride seemingly taking forever. Official “Down Day #1.”  We shall try again tomorrow.
The rest of the day was spent hanging out in the hostel getting to know some of those on their own adventure.  First off there was the gentlemen kind enough to give me a ride to the resort, Nick, a spry man in his 60’s and on his tenth plus tour of South America.  Now it took us all of a couple of seconds to realize we’d met before.  I immediately recognized him from time spent at Snowbird.  He’s a very interesting chap and has stories from all around the world many times over as he’s one that chose many years ago to seek after treasures of experiences and knowledge.  And he has a very refined talent of always being kind and inviting to those around, enlisting them into a group setting.   Nick and I hung out quite a bit during the trip and usually shared a table for dinner in the hostel’s restaurant.   He was also a huge boon in getting me up to and back from the resort every day that he was at the hostel. Then there was Natasha, a Parisian former ballerina now turned doctor going into her third year of residency enjoying the last couple of weeks of a three month vacation.  How was she? Classic Parisian for the first few days; I mean come on, even the French hate Parisians.   But she loosened up after a few good days of skiing later on down the road, but not quick enough, earning the nickname “Parisian Princess” in the meantime. 
Alright it’s Wednesday now. Yeah buddy ski day today and I have a ride up there, no hitchhiking!!! Woohoo!!  Alright gear on, skis in the car, day pack ready.  Let’s go.  Does this sound familiar?  Rinse and repeat.
“Official Down Day #2.”

Now my legs are just getting antsy.  Now frustration has really set in.  The weather reports are all over the board.  Depressions, ridges, systems on the horizon, no systems on the horizon; it all is true and it all is false in some sense.  Welcome to the Andes.  To combat hostel laziness and spending hours upon hours attempting to battle each other to connect to the ever inconsistent and flighty internet connect, Nick, Natasha, and I set out on a walk up Shangri-La road out to the Mission Impossible Lodge.  The walk, under overcast and drizzle i.e. snow in the mountain tops, became a discussion of France, Europe, and the reaches of modern medical reaches between Nick and Natasha with me listening and observing.  Interesting times to say the least.

The day also brought two sets of Australian couples on opposite ends of a similar journey.  The first couple, Chris and Kate from Melbourne, was in their first month of a nine month vacation, while the second couple, Rhys and Terri from Perth, was in their last month of a ten month vacation.  It was fun to see Western and Eastern Australians interact, to see the opposite sides of the adventure spectrum, and tell us of the differences between the coasts, and asking them about "Stalia" slang .  All four were a good inclusion into the the hostel group, escpeically when it came to consuming vast amounts of Chilean wine, pisco, Escudo and Cristal.

Group shot after dinner one night


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