After spending a couple days in the towns north of Bariloche, Laura and I decided to head south, to El Bolson, Esquel, Trevelin, and the Parque National Los Alerces. The drive was beautiful, alternating from mountain valleys and forests to high desert, with few signs of civilization wherever we went.
Although we spent a lot of time in the car, we did get to do a few things in the towns we visited. In El Bolson, we went shopping the artisenal fair, which was full of hippies making everything from pottery to jewelry (a staple hippie good) to clothing to beer. With Christmas approaching, it seemed a perfect time to pick up some presents. Hopefully our relatives like pottery, hippie jewelry and clothing. I love beer.
I don't think we saw any Alerces trees the following day in the Parque National, but we did hike around a bit on a cool, blustery day. We then made the mistake of trying to get dinner at 7:30 pm on a Sunday night in Trevelin, a small town near the national park that was recommended by the guide book. Contrary to what you might think, it wasn't too late to find dinner, it was too *early*--the restaurants didn't open until 9 pm. So we drove back to Esquel, a larger town about 45 minutes away, figuring that we'd find an open restaurant there. Wrong again! 8:15 pm was still too early.
Ultimately, we found a bakery that sold sandwiches and a small shop that sold empanadas (and only empanadas) and cobbled together a meal. I am continually amazed at how late this country operates. When we first drove through Esquel at 1:30 pm on Sunday, it was a ghost town, all the stores closed, the streets deserted. At 8:30 that night it was rockin', people walking all over the place, a band playing in the central plaza, the streets full of cars. Very, very weird.
Today, we stopped by a couple waterfalls near El Bolson on our way back to Bariloche. In Bariloche, we went straight to a hill outside of town that offered a great panoramic view of the area. I don't think I've ever taken so many pictures of lakes, trees and mountains in my life.