We crossed into Argentina over the Andes and across an incredibly scenic border crossing, my first taste of Argentina was pretty incredible and it seemed like it was going to stay that way…
After a long drive we arrived into San Martin de los Andes, a small town in the Argentinean lake district, we found a great campsite by the side of the lake only 5km out of town, with incredible views, only one problem we didn’t actually have any Argentinean pesos. At this point all visitors to Argentina take advantage of the dollar blue – basically an unofficial (and illegal) but widely known about and accepted rate against the Us dollar, based on real market value, considerably higher than the official rate artificially set by the government. So all we had were some US dollars we’d brought with us and some Chilean pesos we had leftover, not a problem we headed into town, surely we’d easily find somewhere, but sadly not it was a Sunday and late. We figured we could put off the campsite lady til the next day, but that still left us with the problem of food – we had none as we’d crossed the border and they’re really picky about what you can and can’t bring across so rather than resort to an ATM and the offical rate we decided it made more sense too splash out and find a restaurant that let us pay in Chilean pesos, and gave us some Argentinean pesos in change.
The following day we had our first experience of the dollar blue and found a place to change our dollars. It wasn’t really at all what I was expecting considering it’s technically illegal, it all seemed a lot more open and professional than the backstreet dodgy deals I was expecting. We spent some time wandering round the town, the centre is small and a bit touristy but it sits around two pretty little squares with beautiful gardens that the locals seem to hang out drinking mate (a kind of green tea that is the national obsession here) It sits on the edge of the lake and has a pretty little beach and jetty. We found some maps of the area and took a spin out to appreciate the views of the lake.
The next day we ventured a bit further afield to another nearby lake which despite it being almost peak season we had to ourselves for the majority of the day, we picnic-ed, lazed around and generally enjoyed the good weather and scenery, Aiden did a spot of fishing, and caught several fish, all of which we threw back. If only we’d been this good at fishing back in Perth!! For the majority of the drive we were rewarded with spectacular scenery. We came in back over the hill behind San Martin and stopped for some more pics. San Martin seems a great mix, a bit toursity with plenty of restaurants and shops, but it hasn’t taken over the entire town and it still has a local feel too, something I felt was a bit missing from the Pucon and Puerto Varas on the Chilean side.