It all began in Pucon, three hours north of Valdivia, a tourist town famed for its volcano and hot springs. That´s the place Jameson posted about our tent and sent the pictures of the beautiful campsite where we stayed. We ran into some trouble when we reached Pucon, finding that forest fires had closed the boarder crossing into Argentina for a week. The only other option was to go hours out of our way to the north or pass through the only other nearby crossing that was according to the tourism office "a very bad road which can be dangerous". (Mom, don´t read this part)... Rebels that we are, we chose the dangerous option. Jana said that people in Chile like to exagerate about the roads where they live to make themselves feel special. She said it happens all the time. Person after person when asked about the passage would say "Cuidado", and move thier finger in the air like a serpent to demonstrate how it was the curves in the road that made it difficult. Curves I can do, but through the years from bad experiences on Mexican, Guatemalan, and Indian mountians, the combination of cliffs and curves I have absolutly no tolernace for. The day of our departure i downed a couple anti-anxiety meds that i had saved up for turbulance on overnight flights. It took us about 6 hours to cross the boarder. The chilean boarder partol almost didn´t let us pass because we didnt have a peice of paper that we needed to go through this specific boarder crossing (it ended up that this pass was only for comercial and state vehicles, not for typical civilians like ourselves). Jana and Mathi argued their way through telling him how we called and called but no one answered the phone. He said " oh! but I´m here all day sitting right by the phone, I would have picked it up.". When they recited from memory the number they had called and it was in fact his line exactly, he gave up the fight and let us pass. It´s amazing what a help the internet would be for the chilean boarder patrol.
These are two monkey puzzle trees.Where it seemed that all the hippies had abandoned the city in the eighties. Some of thier art was still scattered around in the streets, but as far as any type of thriving culture, that had seemed to have moved to the towns outside of El Bolson. The town does have some of the best beer I have ever tasted, including one made with South Americas famous hot peppers. Jameson and I spent most of our time in the mountians and nearby valleys. We found one amazing vegetarian resturant where we ate a Seitan filled chop suey and pumpkin ravioli. The meal came with warm homemade bread, babaganoush, and sunflower seeds. The owners of the place even offered us a job next season.
They can live to be
1,000 years old
They can live to be
1,000 years old
Once we got to Argentina our pace slowed considerably. We drove down the Ruta de los siete lagos (the Route of the Seven Lakes). It´s funny how quickly you can become desensitized to beauty. The first lake we saw the whole car was in awe. By the tenth lake we were just comparing which we thought were the most spectacular. At one lake there was a campsite and a beach where we stopped to rest and swim. Some other travelers were there playing frisbee. Jameson jumped in the throwing circle, made some American friends, and organized a game of ultimate frisbee. We played USA vs. Europe. There were 8 of us playing and it was a very unfairly-matched game, since none of the Europeans knew how to play. USA won 5-1. The tall dutch guy got a rock stuck in his foot, and Jameson skinned his knees.
After four days of travel, we finally found EL BOLSON!
Another wonderful place we found near El Bolson was a beach called puerto patriada, and a lake that had the most clean, clear water I had ever seen. Mathi and Jana had brought thier air mattress and we all took a float and looked at the fish and sea plants growing below us.
We also found a forest full of sculpted tree trunks, which I will write more about in my next entry. All and all it was a good trip. A tad annerving at times with driving and boarder partol, but really, i don´t think that the world can be much more beautiful than the lake region and patagonia. Whatever hippy spirit remians in El Bolson, we found it.