El Bolson Day Walk

Monday 16th November 2015

With Claudio and Annina, we woke up in El Bolson in this giant dorm that we had had just for ourselves at El Pueblito.
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It is funny to think that La Casona de Odile has such an amazing reputation that everyone gets there and it gets full while 15 minutes walk away is another hostel, similar but totally empty. Apparently, the guys who built La Casona de Odile are actually the ones who built first El Pueblito and then wanted to make a bigger place and created La Casona de Odile. We could definitely see lots of similarities between the two places. El Pueblito also had great vibes with a nice fireplace.
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And a nice dining area.
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Nice kitchen too.
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Because Amanda and Yann were at La Casona de Odile, we wanted to keep it simple so after breakfast we packed our bags and walked there in the morning.  We met with them around 10am at the reception where Javier was explaining them the day hike options on a map.
The five of us headed to go see a waterfall first. The easiest way to get there was to walk on this main road.
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At the beginning, this cute puppy kept following us and Amanda was a bit worried that he would keep following and get lost. Luckily, a few hundred meters, some kids who were there called a kid who was in his house who came and told us it was indeed his puppy. We gave him the puppy and continued our walk.
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We got to the waterfall and spent some time there.
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Then we walked away and headed to a Cheese Factory. On our way there, we saw this man again on his horse with his 2 dogs, bringing back food supplies to his house.
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We also saw this cool scarecrow surrounded by flowers we saw  everywhere on the way.
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We arrived at the Cheese Factory.
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We tried 5 types of cheese. It reminded me the numerous times when I was going to the Maleny Cheese Factory in the Glasshouse Mountains, an hour North of Brisbane, where we always stop and try every single cheese possible and usually buy a few, in particular some of the various types of feta cheese they make! Cheese tasting is such a cool thing. 😀 These cheeses were all delicious and we bought each a bit of them that we could put in our sandwich for lunch.
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Then we walked towards the village centre.
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There was this old locomotive on display.
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A huge map of the surroundings that was displayed in the village centre.
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We walked to the bus terminal where we bought the bus tickets for the 9.30am bus going to Bariloche the next day. Then we went to La Anonima supermarket where we bought a few fruits and bread for lunch.
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Nearby was a statue of a little elf.
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Luis Sepulveda in his book “Ultima Notizias del Sur” (Last news of the South) talks about the elf of El Bolson he encountered when he travelled there in 1996 with his photographer friend Daniel Mordzinski. The elf’s name is “El Duende”. Sepulveda explained how this little dwarf looked like an elf and had many legends attached to him as no one really knew his past and all had various opinions of where this real existing human was really coming from. So cool! Wish I had seen him too, unfortunately 19 years later, there was only the statue of him remaining in the city.

Then we went to the bus stop to wait for Amanda and Yann who had gone on a few other errands and to wait together for the bus going to El Puelo lake. While waiting, I checked out the graffitis nearby.
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The bus called “La Golondrina” arrived.
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With Yann and Amanda, we made our sandwiches in the bus and ate them while Annina and Claudio chatted for a while to the Dutch couple we had seen at dinner the night before. It was funny because we had seen this Dutch couple at the Cheese Factory too, it almost felt like they kept following us. 🙂  We arrived at the lake stop 40 minutes later where it was raining. We walked about 10 minutes and got to the lake. We went to the pontoon and didn`t linger around there as it was rainy and windy. A shot of the pontoon.
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Lago Puelo on a rainy day
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We took shelter under a huge tree which protected us from the rain. We realised we had raincoats of different colours. Made me think of Bioman, a cartoon I used to watch in France when I was a kid. Yann and Amanda being Swiss-French had watched it too. Here is a youtube video of the song sang by Bernard Minet from the “Club Dorothee” in 1988. I had a big laugh watching this again, ahah. You can see in it the 5 super strong bioman guys!

Bioman power! Yellow, Pink, Red, Blue, Green..Well..We almost had the right colours hey! 😀
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We spent about an hour only at the lake. If the weather had been good, we would have done the 3-hour walk alongside the lake but the rainy weather put us off. We walked back to the bus stop, the bus was there, we got in and went away from the lake back to the centre. There Amanda and Yann went to a bus agency to buy bus tickets for El Chalten. They would head there on the Thursday night bus leaving around 7pm and getting to El Chalten the Saturday around 1pm. It was 5.49pm and With Claudio and Annina, we waited a bit to see if by any chance the 5.45pm bus going to La Casona de Odile was late and would come to the bus stop. The other option we were thinking of was to go for a coffee while waiting for the next bus. We were tired of our long walking all day and a bit cold and wet too and were rather keen to go home as soon as we could though. Annina said: “Hey why don`t we take a taxi?”. I had totally forgotten that option! What a brilliant idea. So we walked to the bus terminal where there was a taxi booth right next to it. We entered it and asked for a taxi and waited for a bit. While waiting, I was looking at the road signs that can be found in Patagonia. The “Strong Winds” one felt like an authentic Patagonia sign!!! 😀
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The taxi came and drove us to La Casona de Odile. The taxi driver was in his sixties. He had been living in Buenos Aires most of his life but had moved to El Bolson about 15 years ago. He asked us where we were from. Claudio who was sitting in front told him, Suiza and Francia. He started telling us a moving story. 25 years ago, his son was 5 years old and was diagnosed with a very rare brain disease or tumor. At the time, this could only be treated in Hopital Foch in Paris. He went there with his son. The neurologist who operated him was named Paul Dussiere. He operated his son. He explained us that they opened the forehead, did something on the brain, probably something to do with removing the tumor, and then closed again the forehead. I am not an expert in understanding all the details but it sounds like a very very delicate brain operation. When they finished and his son was out of danger, he told them:  “You saved the life of my son. How much do I owe you?” And the hospital replied: “Nothing.” But he said: “Why?”
And the hospital said “We have a special agreement with some countries like Argentina that if we have to operate you, it is free.” He was so amazed and puzzled and grateful that he cried and cried at the time. He told me how much France was meaningful to him since that day. They saved the life of his 5-year old son. 25 years ago. We were just arriving in front of the hostel when he finished telling this story. He turned to me and told me: “What just happened in France is terrible and shocking. I am very sad. I feel for the French. You know, what happened there, it is like if it had happened right here, in Argentina.” He said that…in such a sad way, with so much suffering in his eyes, with so much intensity, with so much sincerity. Jeez… That was my turn to cry. And I am crying again while writing this. I can`t stop crying. Every day. And I know I am not the only one. Those terrorist attacks which happened in France are absolutely horrible and shocking in particular the ones which occured at Le Bataclan concert hall. We are all sad, and not only French people currently living in France. I keep meeting people every single day who tell me how terribly sad and shocked they are. I keep receiving messages from friends or travellers met along the way who are from other countries who are absolutely shocked and moved by what happened.

We were about to get out of the taxi. He gave us a handshake, to each of us. Such a warm and meaningful handshake. Claudio and Annina were there around me, supportive and probably feeling helpless too. How do you deal with sadness? Only time can do something. We are all mourning at the moment, in various ways. The world is mourning. I have that saying I like very much “Only love can erase love. Only time can soothen death.” The situation in France is much more complicated than that. We don`t know about the future. I fear that people who don`t understand the situation would just want to bother Muslim people. The reality is that Muslim people are the first ones ISIS wants to kill. According to the “What ISIS really wants” article, ISIS fanatics are from a branch of Sunnism called Salafism. Now, there are 200 million Shiite muslims in the world. For the Islamic State, they are wrong because Shiism is an innovation diverting from the original thinking of Mahomet. For the Islamic State, they would be the first ones they wanna kill. We around the world are right now all in the same boat. We have to understand what is going on in depth, what the Islamic State theology is in order to really understand them and understand how to fight them.  I fear that Europe has been sleepy so long in this 70-year peaceful time for most of it, in particular Western Europe, that we became apathic, dormant, like cows just eating grass, going to work, eating, sleeping, living our every-day life basically and not realising what is coming. If you haven`t read that “What ISIS really wants” article yet, please, please, by all mean, read it. Both my friend Jo from South Africa and my friend Michael who now lives in London sent it to me almost at the same time as one of the best articles they read on the topic.

To me too, it is indeed a MUST-READ article for all of us. It is brilliant. Like if someone had envisioned what was about to come in 1939 and had written in 1933 “What Hitler really wants”. If a majority of people had read it, they could maybe have organised to prevent the Jewish genocide? It may sound crazy to say that but honestly, who knows! Yes, we are talking about the eventuality of a coming genocide here. The article explains how every single day right now, ISIS is committing individual execution and every few weeks mass executions, mostly of Muslim apostates. I know… I am just trying to do a travel blog here, but when something like what happened happens, it is simply impossible to ignore it.  It is tainting our travels every single day, no matter what we do…

So we got back. Javier showed us our rooms. We chilled in the living room. Went for showers. Amanda and Yann came back. We started cooking together. It was really cool to cook together. It reminded me the brilliant food I had eaten when cooking with Martina, Lynn and AnneLina in San Gil, Colombia, in July. Swiss people cook really well! 🙂
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Amanda and Yann also have a blog, check it out! Awesome photos!
After that nice dinner, we washed the dishes, put the remaining food away and went to bed. It was already 11.30pm. Time really flies!

Tomorrow, back to Bariloche!