In the land of heart-melt­ing glaciers

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - Travel@wash­post.com

Our read­ers share tales of their ram­blings around the world. Who: Erin Pierce, of Ar­ling­ton, Va.; San­d­ina Green of the District; and Naomita Royan, of Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia. Where, when, why: I went away for two weeks in mid-March to hike Los Gla­cia­res Na­tional Park in Ar­gentina and visit Buenos Aires. I didn’t grow up hik­ing. Only within the past year have I grown to love it. I have hiked lo­cally in Shenan­doah, but I wanted to take it to the next level. Ar­gentina is dear to me be­cause I trav­eled abroad to Buenos Aires 13 years ago as a ju­nior at Spel­man Col­lege. That was my first trip out­side of the United States and ever since I re­turned, I have wanted to go back. My pri­or­i­ties have shifted and I love un­plug­ging out­doors, so it was im­por­tant for me to mix in some hik­ing with my time in the city. High­lights and high points: The pin­na­cle was both wit­ness­ing and hik­ing Per­ito Moreno Glacier. The wa­ter that flows from it is a bright, vivid blue. You feel like an ex­plorer as you tie on a pair of cram­pons with their spiky ends and be­gin to ex­plore the glacier by foot. I felt pure joy and, while slightly cool, the weather was not freez­ing cold. I cel­e­brated right there with a glass of whiskey with ice sup­plied straight from the glacier! The other high­light was a hike to La­guna de los Tres, which of­fered unforgettable, un­real lake views. The wa­ter in these parks is so pris­tine that it of­ten is potable. We could drink di­rectly from the lake — and it was the most de­li­cious wa­ter I’ve ever tasted. Cul­tural con­nec­tion or dis­con­nect: The cul­tural con­nec­tion for me was my tour guide for two of the hikes I com­pleted in Los Gla­cia­res. My guide, Fa­cundo, pa­tiently lis­tened to my stum­bling “Castel­lano” as we spoke of ev­ery­thing from mate (a nat­u­ral herbal drink) to Ar­gen­tine pol­i­tics. He shared how he used to live in Buenos Aires, and had a ter­ri­ble com­mute, but rein­vented him­self as a tour guide in the El Chal­ten area of Ar­gentina. He makes much more than he used to in the city and is able to work where he finds peace. Big­gest laugh or cry: This had to be in Buenos Aires, when my flipflop broke. I was on a walk­ing tour when it hap­pened and sud­denly had to hail a cab to grab a new pair at the near­est shoe store. How­ever, my cab­driver strongly in­sisted that I go to a dif­fer­ent neigh­bor­hood, as the shoes on Calle Sante Fe were far too ex­pen­sive. He took me to Bar­rio Once, where I bought a new pair of shoes and then sat at the cof­fee shop he owns, where he made me an af­ter­noon cor­tado with a me­di­aluna (a small, slightly sweet crois­sant). How un­ex­pected: The food in El Chal­ten was amaz­ing. On Fa­cundo’s rec­om­men­da­tion, we dis­cov­ered La Cho­co­la­te­ria Josh Aike, which was founded by two ex­treme climbers and ex­plor­ers. There, we had fla­vor­ful, home­made al­fa­jores and other dul­ces, which we paired with a tasty cup of cof­fee. We also ate din­ner at Yenu and in­dulged in de­li­cious wine and grilled trout. Fa­vorite me­mento or mem­ory: Hik­ing the nat­u­ral beauty of Los Gla­cia­res. Ar­gentina has a unique ecosys­tem that keeps Per­ito Moreno sta­ble, un­like other glaciers that are re­ced­ing, and I hope it stays that way for gen­er­a­tions to come. To tell us about your own trip, go to wash­ing­ton­post.com/travel and fill out the What a Trip form with your fond­est memories, finest mo­ments and fa­vorite pho­tos.

COURTESY OF ERIN PIERCE

The au­thor, left, with friends Naomita, cen­ter, and San­d­ina at Los Gla­cia­res Na­tional Park.

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