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In 2002 the world’s media would have you believe that Argentina is on the brink of collapse and has all but descended into total anarchy. Certainly monetary devaluation has brought much hardship throughout the country, however from a tourists perspective it still appears to be a very prosperous country, especially to someone who has grown accustomed to Asia. The upside of monetary devaluation for the tourist is that Argentina is now cheap, very cheap, but quality of both products and services is very high. Argentina now has Asian prices with European quality.

Our journey through Argentina started in Ushuaia, famous for being the most southerly town in the world, even though it is not. We had planned to spend most of our time in South America on the Hot Rock Global Challenge rock climbing expedition and Ushuaia was our meeting point. Information as to exactly where in Ushuaia we were to be meeting them was never forthcoming and we spent some time wondering if the whole trip was kind of elaborate scam. However, slowly and seemingly by accident we bumped into enough other new arrivals to calm our fears.

Eventually the Hot Rock truck arrived, along with the remainder of our crew, having made the mammoth 3½ thousand kilometre drive from Buenos Aries to Ushuaia in just 3½ days. Understandably after such an epic journey the Hot Rockers on board were jubilant, dirty and frankly just a little bit scary.

Leaving behind the fantastic backdrop of Tierra del Fuego and the chic cafes of Ushuaia we headed directly into Chile, the second of many border crossings between the two countries. Our next main destination in Argentina was to be El Chaltén, a welcome break from Patagonia’s thousands of kilometres of empty scrub. El Chaltén’s only claim to fame is that it is the trailhead for Fitzroy National Park. While the real mountaineers and hard climbers of the group departed for summit attempts we contented ourselves with shorter, easier and less exposed sports climbs in the regions. Caelen’s one departure was to try and put up a new route, resulting in one broken ankle, one broken foot and 40 days in a cast.

The group, disappointed by adverse conditions and fragile rock, elected to leave early for Bariloche. Bariloche is in Argentina’s lake district and seems for all intensive purposes to be a little bit of Austraia. Cafes and chocolate shops line the streets and distract tourists away from trekking and mountain biking. Despite broken ankle we went out on the town here. At this time Hot Rock continued on their way while we stayed behind to let Caelen's ankle mend and Barbara climbed nearby.

Before leaving Argentina to rejoin Hot Rock for Christmas, we spent a week in Buenos Aires. The impact of the currency crisis on the city was obvious, but despite this it's one of the most vibran

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