After leaving Los Alerces national park, we arrived in El Bolsón, the supposed hippie town of Argentina. The arrival was relatively uneventful; we just stopped at a tourist office and drove around looking for a place to stay, which took a very long while. After not finding any place open or within our price range, we decided to take a break and go to one of the several sweets shops in town.

On our way to El Bolson - The cabin where Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid apparently lived. Photo: V

On our way to El Bolson – The entrance to the cabin where Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid apparently lived. Photo: V

The shop was, in fact, not a candy store, but a place that sold jam. While rather surprised at this, we nevertheless bought some raspberry jam and pastries at the cafe inside. Talking with the cashier lady, she told us of a camping place down the road, and Nate left; 10 seconds later, it began raining. Nate returned some time later, rather wet, and said that the campground was closed. The lady, feeling bad for us, and apparently because there was petty crime in the city from all the Buenos Aires people that had arrived, she offered to let us stay in the front of her house. We thanked her and left to a brewery next door: Amelia and I had gotten our treat, now it was time for Mom and Nate. The waitress there was also very nice, and told us about some places to see on the road. We stayed for an hour or so, Mom and Nate drinking their beer and Amelia and I using the Internet. We drove to the other woman’s house about a block away and stayed the night.

El Bolsón is also famous because of its market. When I saw it, I saw why it was the supposed hippie town: almost everyone in the market was, or at least looked like, a hippie. Now, if any of you readers are, were, or will be hippies, I have nothing against you. I don’t even have anything (for the most part) against the idea of hippies; peace is great! But after a GUATEMALAN vendor tried to sell me an AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL didgeridoo in Lake Atitlan, (rich) hippie heaven, it really ruined the idea of the hippie thing for me. Anyways, seeing all of this and not really being interested in markets in the first place, I decided to stay in the car.

Once they returned, I was regaled with stories of what had been seen; Mom had bought a rather hippie hat which I somewhat made fun of but rapidly made amends after she kind of felt bad. Amelia had said there were all sorts of chocolates for sale, and I gave her some money to buy it for me. According to both Mom and Amelia, some guy had been selling DREADLOCKS. Man, when I cut my hair I should have saved it and sold it! I asked if they were burning incense, as I had seen a smoking bowl, and the three of them said yes, they were, and that it didn’t really mask the reek of marijuana.

They returned once more to the market for a little bit, and then we were off to Bariloche. We picked up a couple who were hitchhiking, and we talked with them while driving. After we dropped them off at the main plaza, we went to our campsite for the night: a secure parking lot. The guys there gave us a brief tour showing us where the power and water taps were. The most important thing, we didn’t have to pay!

One of the memorials to the people that were 'dissapeared' during the Dirty War. Photo: Nate

Amelia pets a dog amidst the names of the people that ‘dissapeared’ during Argentina’s Dirty War. Photo: Nate

We walked around town the next day, bundled up against the cold lake wind. The main avenue had all sorts of stores aimed for the tourist: huge chocolate shops, beer and wine stores, places selling stylized gaucho knives and mate cups, and a smattering of restaurants. As we walked, we noticed several dogs walking around, all of which had the white muzzles of old dogs. Noticing us looking at them, they began to follow/lead us, escorting us through the town. Dogs in Latin America are rather amusing; besides just acting like normal, silly dogs, they have a few habits that make us wonder how any of them got to old age. In particular, when a car shows some sign of behavior that only street dogs can recognize, they begin to chase said car, running neck and neck with it while barking and snarling at the wheel until they decide that the car is no longer worth their effort.

Since we had mostly come to Bariloche to look for the steak that Nate, Lyndsey and Wayne had had last time they’d been there, Nate lead us, first going up a street then turning around and looking down another street. In the end, we asked a lady for directions, and she told us how to get to a parrilla called El Boliche de Alberto, which we soon found. Nate peeked inside, and after some consideration, remembered that this was the place.

Since none of us were really that hungry, we decided to go for dinner. I’d been hearing about this steak since before the trip, about how great it was, so I was rather impatient, but I waited and at 8 p.m., it opened! We went inside, ordered, waited, and then the steak arrived.

Celebrating my birthday early. Photo: Nate

Celebrating my birthday early. Photo: Nate

It was three huge blocks of meat just off the grill, with all sorts of tasty juices dripping from it. I took my portion, and when I cut it open, Mom said, “Oh my god, that thing is alive” – the steak was very rare and red. We promptly began to eat. It was delicious, super tender, juicy, and only needed a bit of salt. I devoured the first one, but it was a lot of meat, so I slowed down, eating the second chunk more slowly. The final one I was really feeling the 266 grams I’d eaten so far, and ate each piece slowly, taking time to cut each one into small pieces, but I finished! I was very full.

We drove through the lakes district the next few days. Mom, Nate and Amelia said it was very beautiful. I was sleeping most of the time. We camped by Lago Villarino. That night we talked about the names of the four chickens we are going to have when we are back in Seattle: Irene, Henrietta, Dorothy and Christabelle Dilks. Our dog will likely be called Mini Super Jessi. Then we stopped at San Martin de los Andes to eat empanadas, and continued to Junín de los Andes, where we found a campground with Internet.

Lake district - Photo: Nate

Lake Villarino in the Lake District – Photo: Nate

In Zapala, we found the Municipal Campground that most of the Argentine towns have. We were greeted by the nice guy who was maintaining the place, as well as a handful of dogs who stayed there, possibly owned by him? We played with the puppies and their momma dog, who was rather large compared to her puppies, and then charged our electronics. We watched The Life Aquatic and then went to sleep. It snowed overnight! Of course, it had melted by the time we left late that morning.

We stopped at a point on the highway to eat lunch, and reading in our guidebook that this area was famous for fossils, we decided to take a peek. After not even five minutes of looking, we found one, a seashell sticking out of a rock! We spent the next hour looking around, and we found more shells, fossilized coral, and some chiton-looking things.

Looking for fossils - Photo: V

Looking for fossils – Photo: V

Fossilized coral! Photo: Amelia

Fossilized coral! Photo: Amelia

We left Route 40 to sleep near a lagoon by the Tromén volcano. After a couple of hours of bumpy driving we arrived to a park ranger station, but it was empty, so we drove part way down the road and parked in the valley to spend the night.

Just another day in Argentina - Photo: ?

Goat butts – Just another day in Argentina – Photo: Amelia

Another incredible campsite - Photo: Nate

Frozen lake at Tromén volcano – Photo: Nate

Some of the mountains around Route 40 - Photo: Benjamin

Some of the mountains around Route 40 – Photo: Benjamin

The next day was special: we said goodbye to Patagonia for the rest of the trip, and crossed into the province of Mendoza. We drove through the small, rundown town of Barranca, and got onto the bridge separating the two states. After one last picture, we drove away from Patagonia, and onto the next part of the trip.

Chao, Patagonia! Photo: Nate

Chao, Patagonia! Photo: Nate


Share this Post:
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
  • Jeneen

    “That thing is alive!” totally cracked me up! Can’t believe it’s almost been a year of reading about your adventures! Continued safe travels!

Leave a Comment