Day 16: Drive the Seven Lakes Route

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


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Friday, December 19, 2008

Day 16:  Drive Seven Lakes Route from Villa La Angostura  
Arrive in Rio Hermoso Hotel. Thursday, December 18th

The color of water.  Have you ever noticed how many different shades of blue a lake can display?  What a light show early in the morning right outside our balcony, gazing at Lago Nahuel Huapi!   I am drawn to today's deep blue color with the reflections of the snow-capped mountains and the wind patterns on the surface.  Looking through the camera's telephoto lens, I see more than the broad perspective.  I enjoy observing and finding pleasing compositions of the water.  It is so relaxing to see such beauty when you first wake up in the morning!  I take deep breaths and soak it all in. Take a look at the photos and maybe you will catch some of that morning stillness and joy!

After watching the wind patterns on the lake, I am reminded of my own patterns.  Each morning, we take our pills at breakfast and just about every morning on this trip, I forget to bring the pills from our room to the table.  Today, once again, I forget and get annoyed with myself as I return to the room to get them.  Personal patterns, unlike those on the water, are hard to change!

We're on the move again.  Today, we drive the famous Seven Lakes Route, north from Villa La Angostura to our hotel that is about 25 minutes south of San Martin de los Andes.  This is our third "circuit" in Patagonia:  1st: Bariloche - Circuito Chico; 2nd - To Los Alerces; and now the 3rd - the Seven Lakes Route!  Harvey is enjoying the driving here in Argentina.  We'll see what we find!

Before leaving Villa La Angostura, we decide to fortify ourselves for the eminent road trip.  We need money, chocolate, lunch and a fill up of gas!  We go to the ATM and get more cash, because we have learned that small incidentals and meals are usually paid for in cash.  We want to take advantage of the opportunity to get more of the smooth tasting Benroth chocolate.  And finally, when looking at the map of the Seven Lakes Route, it would seem that we should not rely on getting food along the way; we should either eat before or bring along sandwiches.  We return to the pizza place that we have grown to like and the same waitress walks up to our table, smiles and asks us if we want the same as last time!  She even remembers that Harvey likes the juicy lemon in his pepsi (because he really prefers Coca Cola).  While we are waiting for our food, just like our last visit to the restaurant, a young woman walks up to our table and show us trinkets that she is selling. Her smile lights up her face.  Harvey comments about that and with all the rejection that she gets, how does she smile like that?  We watch as she approaches every table with that beautiful smile.  Does she ever get frustrated or discouraged?  At the gas station, we have learned that they are full service, meaning that a person will pump your gas for you.  Today, we have an offer from a young boy who offers to wash our windows.  Harvey agrees and asks the man pumping how much to give the boy and we learn that 1 - 2 pesos is right.  With all the dusty gravel roads, we get to start out with a clean windshield and the boy gets some cash.  Win, win!

From Villa La Angostura (on Lago Nahuel Huapi, lake #1) we drive north on a paved road. We pass Lago Correntoso - mountains, lake - beautiful (lake#2)!  Near Espejo, there is a split in the road and if you go towards El Rincon you head toward Chile. It is in this area that the Seven Lakes Route changes to gravel.  We pass Lago Espejo (Mirror) (lake#3).  The gravel road is under construction as you can see in the photos, and with the mounds of gravel on the side of the road, we are hesitant to stop to look and take some photos. But the road is following the terrain of the mountains and we go up and down, turning left and right and have beautiful views of water and trees unfold before us!  The paved road resumes at Pichi Traful.  Lago Villarino(lake#4)  and Lago Falkner (lake#5) are separated by a narrow isthmus and they are quite impressive.  There is camping along Lago Falkner so it is possible to pull off the road there.  Off the paved Seven Lakes Route there are a few miradors with parking.  These are great for taking in the views!  Along the route, we occasionally stop.  Each time, we find, no surprises here, water!  A lake, a river, a waterfall...water, water, everywhere!  The surprisingly clear and colorful moving water is so vibrant and full of life set against the landscape of the solid mountains and dense green forests.  We started the day enjoying the water of Lago Nahuel Huapi in the early morning light and now throughout the day, we see more views.   It certainly seems to be a theme for the day!  Oh my gosh, I just remembered to remember my intention for Thursdays, "everything flows"!  Today, instead of putting the intention in my mind and having it realized during the day, I become aware of the intention from being aware of my surroundings.  How cool is that?

We don't know which lakes are considered in the count of the Seven Lakes Route!  We did not take the detour to Lago Traful (lake#6), since we will see that on our return back to Bariloche.  We must have missed the sign for Lago Escondido (Hidden Lake - lake#7) - we guess it really is hidden!  And Lago Hermoso (lake#8) is hidden from our view by trees and since it is so near our hotel we figure that we will swing back at some time to see it.   There are 25 more minutes to go on the Seven Lakes Route before it ends in San Martin de los Andes, but we have reached Route 63 and our Rio Hermoso Hotel is only one km down that road!  We'll need to catch Lago Meliquina (lake#9) and Lago Machonico (lago#10) another day!

We have enjoyed this road trip today.  As much as I tried to get information on the internet in advance, I found very little about places to stop and walk.  I had read about Nivinco Waterfalls and Vulinanco Waterfalls, but we did not either see the signs or we couldn't match up the directions with what we saw.  Parts of The Seven Lakes Route are actually in two national parks:  Nahuel Huapi and Lanin.  It is for this reason, that if we were to do this again, I would be sure to consider: 1) going to the tourist office in Villa La Angostura and seeing if they have details of places to walk and stop along the way and/or 2) seeing if either the "Las Guias Sendas y Bosques" for these parks (www.guiasendasybosques.com.ar) or the Green Guide (www.edicionesverdes.com.ar) provide suggestions and more detail maps so that you can actually find them.

When we turn into the driveway and see the Rio Hermoso Hotel ahead, I have this feeling in my gut that we have arrived home.  From the outside, it looks like a large private home and this is reinforced when you walk through the front door, you enter a great room with living and dining areas, and large picture windows facing the river and surrounding trees!  Rio Hermoso is situated on yes, the Hermoso River!  We walk onto the veranda and see an outside seating area facing the river and the mountain that is just across the river.  We hear the river, birds and the wind in the trees.  A gem of tranquility.  We are ready to settle in!

We speak with Enrique, the manager, and learn that of the six rooms, two are booked for tonight, and we will have the hotel all to ourselves tomorrow!   We decide to sit on the outside veranda and ask Vanessa for a bottle of wine and some nuts.  Harvey plays his guitar.  I read "Miraculous Living", a guided journey in Kabbalah by Rabbi Shoni Labowitz and just gaze and soak in the beauty of the setting.  After awhile we go up to the terrace off our room and continue our activities!  As the sun begins to set, I become absorbed in the shadows of the trees, colors of the river, the clouds and the mountain silhouette.  I hope the camera captures the calmness, beauty, and what I am feeling when I am in the moment enjoying the display of nature.

I am reminded of today's intention, "everything flows".  Today's road trip was on a gravel, bumpy road, then a paved smooth road, both with lots of twists and turns and dramatic scenery - like the path of life! Our path today led us to this place of peace, calmness, graciousness and warmth. There is also the obvious connection with water today.  A passage in "Miraculous Living" talks about the flexibility to move as life moves and to change as life changes. That waters are always renewing themselves.  And to observe it is to understand that the river is alive and to confirm the belief that in never remains the same.

Looking for meaning hidden in the form of images, I reflect that the last six months or so of this year, has brought changes in my cognitive functioning that has caused alarm and set off a series of medical tests, finding no cause.  I am only 59 years old!  I have often been frustrated with myself and frequently mourning the loss of how I functioned in the past.  In comparison, now I feel far less chatter in my mind, as I live in the present.  With deliberate concentration, I can focus my attention on the past or future, but the norm for me is the now, where I am at the moment.  Thoughts of what I should be doing or of the past are rarely with me anymore.  I have to have patience with myself as I analyze or put things on a to do list.   In a city, I feel bombarded with the hubbub of people, drivers, visual and noise stimulation; I feel I have to shut my senses down.  In Nature, I feel more comfortable and can open up my senses and relax.  I come to the awareness today that instead of mourning this loss, maybe this is an opportunity for spiritual development and accessing awareness.  I recognize now that "everything flows" includes my own personal awareness and development.   It is a paradigm shift.  I need to stop comparing who/how I function now and how I did in the past.  I need to accept myself as I am now.  I take a deep breath and there is a sense of relief and freedom.  For years this is what I wanted - to be free of the drive to plan and manage, to make lists, to meet goals.  To "be".  I have what I want!  Here I am.  Just be with it.

There is a shift in the energy of our trip - the journey is now inside myself. Where we are is the stimulus for that journey.  I have internalized my favorite travel quotes: 

"One's destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things." By Henry Miller
"There is only one journey.  Going inside yourself."  By Rainer Maria Rilke

Today's photos!
http://www.margieswebgallery.com/galleries/argentina/Day%2016%2012-18-08/
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