We leave Bariloche and cycle all of 20kms out of town, partly to avoid paying another night in the hostel and partly as the volcanic ash finds us again in the afternoon.
We´ve definitely been pushing our luck so far. We´ve slept in some fairly risky accommodation and even been caught by the military on one occasion. This time we push it too far.
There´s a bridge over a river, the river cascades to Nahuel Huapi lake, there´s a flat spot of green grass in the corner of river and lake. Michael and I both stop at the same time and agree it´s the perfect spot for camp.
That´s the plus column...
In the negative column...
1) It´s overlooked by 4 rather nice looking mansions over the river
2) The bridge is the border to re-enter Nahuel Huapi National Park which means no camping outside organised sites.
3) Oh... And there´s a police check point 30 metres down the road.
We know about 1) and 2) and decide to risk it. Crucially we fail to spot 3) as the police are tucked out of site in a cabin off the road.
Lighting a fire to cook chorizo sausages is probably the boulder that broke the camel´s back and soon thereafter we see blue flashing lights on the bridge.
Probably nothing to do with us we agree.... but no the locals have rumbled us.
And then we see a torch beam descending from the bridge, closely followed by an extremely angry young man in uniform. We hastily extinguish the BBQ and trudge guiltily behind him back to HQ. Even his back looks angry! It starts badly when he asks for passports and we explain they are back in the tents. Mine´s in my pocket (and I find out later - so is Michael´s) but there´s no way I want to give that away.
We know what we´ve done wrong, and we duly get the third degree. He explains about a rather lovely sounding campsite 30km away.
30km?? It´s 9pm, dark, and we´ve not finished our chorizo sausage supper, so this is terrible news. We play the dumb foreigner and throw ourselves on his mercy.... There must be room in his cabin for 2 weary travellers who meant no harm, who´s customs and ways are different and lead us innocently to misunderstand these complexities of camp etiquette.
He relents. Slightly - there´s no way we can talk our way out of this into a warm cabin. He allows us to camp "out of site" behind a tour office across the road. Somewhat cowed, we drag our gear back up and over the road and re-pitch camp. We decide another BBQ is probably not a great plan. Pan fried sausage it is...