Day 13: Cascada Inacayal, Villa La Angostura

Trip Start Dec 02, 2008
Trip End Dec 26, 2008

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Day 13:  Hike to Cascada Inacayal, Villa La Angostura, El Faro
Monday, December 15th

We may be in Argentina, but we wake up with a bit of Miami "manana" attitude.  Each day, we seem to be slipping into a routine of getting up a bit later!  During last night, I woke up a few times and listened to the sound of the lapping of the waves of the lake - El Faro is located directly on the lake and the predominant winds seem to be whip up waves and a breeze directly at the hotel.  We left the windows open just a bit to allow some fresh air to come in and join us.  Early in the morning, Harvey suggests that I go out on the balcony and take a morning photo.  He remembers yesterday morning's feelings and is encouraging me to do something that he knows I like.  I love him so!  I put on a robe, find my camera and feel the nippy morning chill.  The colors of the sky and clouds are a soft pink and blue, like they are being kissed by the first morning light.  I climb back to bed and warm up again!  No need to rush out of bed.

Today's intention is "the sun radiates and shines and expects nothing in return".  I remind myself and let that sink in as I shower and dress.  I'm curious how this will realize itself as the day progresses.

The breakfast buffet looks scrumptious - fresh fruit, cereals, pastries, bread, cheese, ham, yogurt, fresh orange juice and our choice of coffee or expresso.  The chef has made those milk-less rolls just for Harvey and a basketful is brought to our table.  We are appreciative that they have taken the information about Harvey's lactose intolerance so thoughtfully, although he in fact can have some milk in things, he just can't drink a glass of milk, have ice cream or anything with cream. 

A young couple are sitting at another table next to the panorama window facing the lake.  We ask if they are on their honeymoon.  They say they are not married, but are on vacation together.  We get a few Spanish tips on how to say "should have" and talk about our respective vacation plans.  It seems that there are three rooms booked at this time.  It is so nice to be traveling at shoulder season - clear benefits of good weather, no crowds or busy facilities and better rates!

After breakfast, Harvey plays his guitar and I take photos from the balcony.  The day is slowly evolving and it feels luscious!  When it feels right, we depart to get sandwiches for our hike to Cascada Inacayal (a waterfall).  Andres had given us a map yesterday, and there is the possibility of also going to Mirador Belvedere or Belvedere Lookout.  We'll see what we feel like doing...!

We always think of our stomachs, even though we have just finished breakfast, and plan to pick up some sandwiches before setting off on the trail.  We go to the supermarket first and as we walk in the young man behind the desk says "hola" (hi) and we say "hola" and before we know it, Harvey & he have a conversation about where we are from and he offers us a drink of mate!  We have read that you should never turn down an offer of mate, so we say "yes".  Normally, my mind would say no because you are sipping from the same straw as a stranger.  But I don't want to be an ugly American so I push away those feelings and we both give it a try.  It takes like a really strongly brewed tea, kind of on the bitter side.  The man points to my camera and suggests that I take a photo!  You can see the photo in the gallery.

We find prepared sandwiches in the deli area, but they all have ham.  It seems that ham and cheese, or ham with all kinds of other combinations is very popular in Argentina for sandwiches.  Where we go, it is always on the lunch menu!  The young lady behind the counter is very friendly and Harvey's Spanish is really improving, so we get a recommendation and directions to a place downtown that prepares sandwiches to go.  The young man at the entrance and this young lady are outgoing and friendly - radiating!
We find the place downtown that prepares food to go, but it is still too early in the day and it is not open.  We find an outdoor café & deli that is open, but its list of sandwiches all have ham.  Harvey asks if they can just make cheese, lettuce and tomato - they say yes - and we are good to go!

We find the road to the Cascada Inacayal.  We think we have it right, but when we see a sign indicating that we are entering a Mapuche community, we are not so sure.  We are pretty sure we are in the right place, so we continue on the dirt road.  We pass some homes in the forest and two men wave at us as we drive by.  We finally see a sign in Spanish that we think says that you can't drive any further.  We park the car, open the doors and Harvey is startled by two large dogs that greet him when he opens his door - in a split second he determines that all they want is to say hello and be petted!  Talk about radiating energy! 

We are glad when our two new friends decide to join us on the path.  One has attached herself to Harvey and is right at his side.  The other is more adventurous, going ahead and then mysteriously re-appearing from the underbrush.  The forest has a combination of large trees and lush undergrowth.  It is very pretty, luxurious and calming.  The literature I have says that we are seeing a variety of trees: the "coihue" and "lenga", as well as "maiten chico", "maiten duro" (appreciated for its hard wood) and "canelillo", which is considered a sacred tree by the Mapuche tribes for its curative virtues.  In fact its bark has a high percentage of Vitamin C and the infusion made out of it was given to people suffering from scurvy.  There are also some bushes called "michay" and "calafate" that resemble a small leafed wild holly.  At the waterfall, there are a variety of ferns.  The type of rock in the ravine is of glacial origin.  I am providing this information, not to bore the reader, but to say that it is a lush, diverse place with history and meaning to those who have lived here.  I am always in awe when walking through a forest of tall, large trunk trees.  They evoke a strong quiet power.  The soft diverse underbrush is a counterpoint and seems to provide a balance.  The photos in the gallery only provide a hint of this!

We are surprised when the path keeps going up and up and up some more.  We start to hear sounds of water and know that we must be going towards the waterfall.  Occasionally, the path is marked with arrows.  We pass a young couple with backpacks and they look vibrant and Harvey comments on how you could feel their positive energy - as if they were radiating.  We are not sure if it is possible to approach the waterfall from below and we talk about that we may have taken the upper path by mistake.  It certainly would have been an easier to approach from the bottom!  All the photos of the waterfall appear to be from the bottom.    We continue uphill, and in about an hour, we arrive with our dogs.  It is a perfect location and the way you happen upon it, we feel like we have discovered it!  There are large boulders and a fast moving stream leading to the cliff ledge and the waterfall.  And then, surprise, we see a small waterfall further upstream!  We have come to one of Harvey's favorite places - a stream, waterfall, boulders!  The dogs lie down and take a nap.  Harvey lies on a log, then explores the other side of the stream and disappears out of site.  When Harvey comes back, we sit on some boulders and hug.  What a special place, what a special moment!
Harvey takes out his book, one of his favorite things to do at a place like this.  I lie down on a boulder, close my eyes and let the sensation of being here and the sounds soak into me.  I feel like a sponge, letting all this goodness swirl around inside me.  Breathe!

Two young girls join us at the top.  They are from El Bolson and they have walked all the way from the town in 1 hour.  It took us 1 hour from where we parked our car!  Youth!  Also, I am stopping frequently to look around and to take photos.  If I just walk, I find my head is always looking down where my feet I stop and look around to see the area we are walking through!  It slows us down, but it makes the experience more enjoyable for me.  We have no time schedule, just the intent to enjoy the day.
It is getting overcast and Harvey thinks the weather may be turning.  I am experimenting with a new variable neutral density filter for my camera and want just a bit more time.  We reluctantly get ready to return, packing up the backpacks and putting away the camera gear.  The dogs wake up from their nap.
As we are descending, we pass a couple on their way up.  We all say hello.  It's interesting how you can pick up just a few words and body language and feel that this couple doesn't have the positive radiance of the earlier couple that we saw on our way up.  We wonder what type of vibrations do people pick up from us?

We make it back to the car rather quickly as we feel some sprinkles of rain.  Our dog friends do not stay with us, so we do not get to say goodbye and thank you.  We really did enjoy being with them.  They really did seem like they were enjoying themselves.  They didn't have anything scheduled for the day and spontaneously decided to tag along with us.  They wanted to join us for lunch and we did give them some of our food.  It was fun to watch them run and appear out of the bushes.  Both wanted attention and affection, and it was our pleasure to provide that to them!

We are back in the room, and Harvey checks the remote control for the lights that he had asked to be fixed.  He goes to find Andres who returns with him, saying the repairman had been in the room earlier.   They push buttons and do get the remote to work.   We get a lesson on only pushing #1 and #2 buttons.    We check our e-mail and Anna has responded that we are a go for Wednesday (day after tomorrow), so tomorrow is going to be the National Park Los Arrayanes.  We ask Andres to make a boat reservation for us on the early 11 AM departure.  He calls back and informs us that there is only one departure tomorrow, at 2:30 PM.  Okay, we can have a leisurely start again.  It does show that it is important, for boat rides in off season, to book in advance - that way, if there is a schedule change, you are made aware and don't just show up and be disappointed.

Sitting by the big picture window in our room at El Faro, we set a table of cheese and crackers and diet coke.  We watch the rain and fantastic clouds over the distant mountains and lake.  What a beautiful day!  And it isn't over!

We hang in the room, take a bath in the large jacuzzi, catch up on email, Harvey reads his news on-line, and I write this journal and take more photos of the fantastic clouds and weather.  All is good.

For dinner, we return to town.  After parking the car, we notice a chocolate shop, Benroth, and decide to pick up some bitter sweet dark chocolate for treats. The women are making the chocolate in the shop and everything looks delicious - nuts and cream filling, milk, semi-sweet, much variety!  Isn't it our responsibility as tourists to sample such an Argentinian specialty?

Oh yes, we came here to eat dinner!  We put away the chocolates, and locate the beef restaurant La Pioneros but it is closed on Mondays.  We walk over to see if Macarena is open as it was recommended by someone on TripAdvisor.  It is a charming small romantic restaurant.  We receive a little education in the wines of the region and then order a salad, steak and wine.  By the time you order two individual glasses of wine, from a price perspective it makes sense to order a bottle.  We toast such a relaxing day, have a bit more wine than normal and thoroughly enjoy our meal!  We start a conversation with the couple sitting near us who are from Buenos Aires.  We compare itineraries and discuss the world!  When we walk out of Macarena it is just after 11 PM and most of Villa La Angostura is closed, including the restaurants.  We drive back in the direction of El Faro and manage to locate its well-lit sign.  We are so full we do not even eat our chocolate by the side of the bed.  We turn off the lights, put our heads on the pillow and we are asleep!

Today's photos!
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