Viedma is a city that is known for its proximity to outdoor and water sports. Which is definitely great for me. I have to admit, it was a bit of a surprise for me to realize how large the region of Patagonia actually is… and that is without saying that 90% of it is flat, dry and with barely any vegetation. Quite far from the typical idea we have from Patagonia, thinking of Torres Del Paine, El Calafate and the majestic Andes. So here I am, living on the Northeast coastal region of Patagonia, 30min from some of the best surf and kite surfing/windsurfing spots of the country. It wasn’t too long before I went to have a look at the beaches!
As part of a school activity, we also went to spend 2 days at El Condor (also called La Boca by the locals, because it is here that the Rio Negro river meets the Atlantic ocean). We chaperones the students for an activity that they do every year – the entire secondary school meets up in a large Gymnasium where they hang out, do dance competitions by year groups, play sports and spend time on the beach for day or night activities. There was also a lot of cooking involved (home-made pizzas, tortas fritas, and of course load of dulce de leche! For those who didn’t know, the dulce de leche is this mix of milk and sugar processed into a sort of spread caramel that Argentine use for… everything! Toasts, desserts, on cheese, on top of marmelades… you name it, I think if you can eat it, you can put dulce de leche on it!).
El Condor is probably not the best beach to hang out and relax. I think in the summer it gets very crowded, but the wind is very strong and the sand gets blown all over the place, literally hitting you in the face and all over. So… just saying, if you are looking for a quite day at the beach, maybe try some of the other beaches around where the cliffs cut the wind a little!
My host family doesn’t practice much water sports, therefore it was on me to use my surprisingly growing Argentine network. After a few chats, I was able to get in touch with some people who are regular in the surfing scene here in Viedma, and to go out this week-end for my first ever South American surf session! Needless to say it was awesome, but after not surfing lots for over a year and finally healing from a bad foot injury, I realized that my balance and my take off were absolutely terrible! The swell was surprisingly strong according to the locals, and I had to wait a bit for low tide to be able to paddle out without getting caught in never ending washing machines! I was able to paddle out a few times with my 9’ and was told that it was pretty impressive “for a woman” to paddle so strongly with a board that size… Good for me and cheers to all my ladies surfers out there! Here they usually use 4-3 wetsuits but no need for boots or gloves at this time of the year. This might change when the winter comes (i.e a month or two!).
El Espigon is about 15km away South of El Condor. The area is protected by the cliffs and is very rocky. At high tide it is hard to know there the rocks are, so it is good to see the area at low tide at least once to get a better idea. Sometimes it is hard to paddle out from the beach, and a few locals used to the place just walk out on a rock area and jump off in the waves. I’m not quite there yet! The surf community also built a small surf shack near the staircase that leads from the parking lot to the beach. Surfers use it to hide from the wind, change into their wetsuit, hang out and drink some Mate!
After spending 7hrs at the beach with new friends yesterday, I enjoyed – just another – asado meal at home with my host family who received their son’s football team for the evening. I was suppose to go surfing again the day after, but I am fighting a pretty bad cold and figured it was time to rest… in order to be in perfect shape for my next week-end trip to Bariloche during Easter!