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San Martin de los Andes

Yesterday during the banquet we were talking to Nick about our travel plans for the day today. We told him that we were planning on driving up to San Martin de los Andes for the day and Nick insisted that we should stay the night and drive back the next day and in fact, he had a friend who owned a cabin that we could stay at. Nick made a couple of phone calls and got back to us within minutes after having set it all up for us. Thank you Nick!

Robert and Ann had secured a rental car (a Volkswagen Gol) which was pretty basic but appropriate transportation that returned great gas milage. Again, I have no idea why the car manufacturers are not producing these vehicles for the US market more consistently. True, they would have to upgrade the rear seatbelts, but not much more to provide a very basic, efficient and inexpensive automobile, perhaps even cheaper than the current Volkswagen Rabbit.

We started off on paved road about a third of the way and then spent a few hours driving on unpaved (and pretty rough) roads in driving rain causing huge pools of water to form in low areas of the road. Robert insisted on driving, which left me to try and take photos as well as get some sleep. In most environments involving other people I simply cannot sleep. However, I trust Robert and Ann, know them well and in such occasions can sleep when the opportunity presents itself. This of course meant sleeping in the back seat of a VW Gol on an incredibly rough road with rain falling in sheets, but hey…. if I can sleep in the unheated cargo hold of a plane or on the roof of a truck in the middle of the desert or up against a tree (or in a tree for that matter), then I can sleep just about anywhere.

Opportunities for photography were slim, but it was a good time to be able to look out the window and see spring set in to the Andes in-between sheets of rain. We finally made it into San Martin de los Andes that afternoon, checked into the cabin which was more than we could have asked for with most comfortable beds and solitude. We were initially a little nervous about the noise as there was a pack of dogs that came running out ferociously barking at our entry into the driveway, but they did not have the look of animals that wanted to do harm. So, we got out of the car, introduced ourselves to the dogs and checked in with the property keeper, went back and paid appropriate attention to the perros and took a siesta in the cabin before heading out in search of eats.

Photo courtesy of Ann Torrence.

We did pretty good for dinner having the absolute best meal of the trip at a small restaurant named La Tasca. I had the red deer with local mushrooms which was simply one of the most delicious meals evah! Typically when one orders a mushroom sauce, it comes with a few diced mushrooms in it, but when the dish was brought out, the mushroom sauce was applied over a liberal helping of morel mushrooms and other local fungi from the surrounding forests. Robert had the local trout making me really wish I had brought my fishing gear and Ann had the deer stuffed ravioli and we all shared yet another delicious Malbec.

Robert had begun to catch a cold at some point that was felling many of the scientists at the meeting, so we went back to the cabin with an agreement that we’d all retire to our rooms and nobody would wake anybody else up allowing us to simply sleep until our bodies told us to wake up.

Finally, as I type this I need to mention that unfortunately, we heard that at some point yesterday, a boat with some American tourists capsized out on the lake. One person was killed as he was unable to escape from the boat and his wife was in critical condition with hypothermia at the hospital. They are not from our party, but apparently were from the Hotel Llao llao. Judging from the condition of the water and weather yesterday and today, there is no way I would have gone out on the lake, but that is a call that everybody needs to make for themselves. My thoughts and prayers go out to their family.

Categories: Travel.

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