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February 2, 2006 – A journey to San Martin de Los Andes, Argentina in South America

Feels Like Home

Crossed the border from Chile into another small mountain lake resort area in upper Patagonia, Argentina. San Martin de Los Andes is a bit bigger than Pucon, and felt a whole lot more like home. The town is situated in a small valley surrounded by tall mountains with fresh mountain air.

Temptation lies everywhere in the town streets. By that, I mean gelato and chocolate shops! The Argentinean mountain cuisine (steak, pasta, smoked salmon/trout, venison, wild boar, wild trout, wild rabbit, mushrooms, cheese, etc.) is also to die for here - everything is so rich and tasty. Rick even had the runs from eating such rich food after a prolonged period of eating not as rich food (kind of like Survivor contestants after many days of meager/simple eating).

many varieties of freshly made gelato in this cute little shop

roasting wild boar

very rich steak and pasta

I really enjoyed San Martin. Went for a couple of long runs (it's been awhile), which was a great way to explore the town. Also went on a hike with another traveler. The hike was actually quite an adventure, since we didn't exactly know where we were going.

Got lost quite a few times on that early morning hike to a lookout point. The hike started from a trail close to the lake, Lago Lacar. Somehow, we got onto an unpaved road leading up to what looked like the highest point on the mountain. Along the way, my hiking partner almost got chased by a random bull getting a drink from a small, muddy stream. She took a picture of him and I'm not sure if he was too amused. Getting chased by cows/bulls is not fun. Believe me, my dog instigated such chases back at home while hiking a few times.

Lago Lacar

After that, we decided to take a small and very steep dirt trail to what we thought was the lookout point. It took us to the top of the mountain, but it definitely was not the lookout point since we couldn't see anything, like a view of the lake through the trees. So we slid by our shoes down that narrow dirt path, which was quite fun.

Then we got back on the unpaved road again, but decided to head back so we wouldn't miss a bus to Bariloche. On the way back, veered in a different direction since we saw signs pointing to the actual lookout point. Decided to take what looked like a shortcut to it, since time was running low, but only got to the top of a big rock-hill. On the way there, passed a random loose horse nibbling on some shrubbery. Got a partial view of the lake from the top though.

Finally decided to head back due to really a lack of time. Actually started running down, and ended up at a dead end. Turned around and ended up at a lone mountain house with a mother hen and her chicks running around, and a bunch of dogs barking at us. Went to the house and knocked on the door to ask for directions back, but no one answered. Then my hiking partner noticed a fresh, drying skin of a lamb hanging from the top of their porch.

Decided to just go on the trail next to the house, and we were really bolting it by now (mostly due to what we thought was the lack of time). Ended up at another dead end, but turned around and crawled through what looked like another trail. Finally reached the previous trail we were on that took us to this crazy hike. We ran back to the hostal and found out that we had at least two hours before departing San Martin. Ha!

Definitely a hike to remember. Too bad I didn't take my camera along - didn't expect the hike to be any different from ones at home. But it sure was.

I can definitely live in San Martin de Los Andes for awhile.

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