Literally straight off the trails in El Chaltén we returned our rented camping gear and walked to the bus station to board a bus north to El Bolsón, Argentina for some warmer weather and well earned down time. El Bolsón is still technically Patagonia, but after the nearly 24 hour bus ride, we felt like we’d arrived somewhere completely new. The scenery changed from the rugged and snowcapped mountain look of southern Patagonia to lush green rolling hills beaming with sunshine. We stepped off the bus into what I can best describe as a music festival scene without the big stages, in scenery that bears a strong resemblance to my favorite music festival town of Quincy, CA. There were drum circle sounds filtering in from all directions, a photobooth where one can have their photo taken with a giant mushroom and a gnome, dreadlocked hippies selling their crafts along the sidewalks in front of the central town square, people wearing shirts with sacred geometry patterns and the yummy smell of palo santo wood burning. Welcome to El Bolsón, the hippie capital of South America and the town with a seemingly 24/7 farmer’s market and craft fair.
We stayed 20 minutes out of town, on a property with lavender fields, greenhouses, a river swimming hole, a half a dozen hammocks, home-brewed beer, and lots of friendly travelers to hang out with. The hostel is called Casona de Odile, and it was a perfect find; the best possible place to chill out for 5 days. The lady who owned the hosteria we stayed at in El Chaltén actually booked this place for us, and I don’t know how she knew that we would feel right at home there, but she nailed it. We logged a lot of chill time at Casona de Odile. The weather was perfectly sunny, but not too hot and we really enjoyed getting to know the staff as well as the other guests, most of whom had gotten sucked into the Casona for weeks before we even arrived.
- We went shopping at the farmer’s market in town and got enough food to cook meals for our entire stay! We definitely took advantage of the shared kitchen at Casona, which was the best we had seen on our entire trip.
- For the first time since my bike accident in Pucón I got back in the saddle. We biked from the hostel to an organic dairy farm where we tasted fresh cheeses and bought some to complement our full stock of groceries. Danny rode a bit further to the trout farm and bought himself some fresh fish to cook.
- We met some great people to share travel stories with, cook dinner with, drink with and play cards with. Sue was one of our favorites and we were lucky enough to continue traveling with her for a few days after El Bolsón. And also Willcastle, ironically from Quincy, CA, who was working at the Casona and shared a bottle of wine with Danny at about 3 AM when he couldn’t sleep due to a loud snorer in our room.
- I took a donation based yoga class every morning on the yoga platform on the property.
- Although this is not a highlight, I think I should say an extra thank you to Danny. We didn’t go into town too much during our stay, but Danny braved the irregular local bus schedule for a much needed ATM run. He wound up getting stuck in town for pretty much the whole day, and I felt badly that he missed out on the extra hammock time I know he was craving.
- To end on a better note, we spent some of our chill time discussing plans for our wedding, and made a decision we are both really excited about. We decided to include our wedding at the tail end of our year off, which actually means cutting some travel time from the end of our trip. We have loved our travels and are looking forward to the adventures ahead, but we miss our families and friends, and Bacon of course, and are super excited to come home to a big celebration in October.
For the full album of El Bolsón photos, click here.