In the Shadow of the Andes
Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
187Trip End Ongoing
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By early evening we had dropped down into the fertile valley sheltering the infamous "hippie" town of El Bolsón. Early the next morning we set out to investigate the intriguing claim of the laid-back residents - that Cerro Piltiquitrón, the jagged mountain ridge east of town, is one of the earth's primary "cosmic energy centres"
The first pony-tailed hippies descended on this small town in the 1970s, and they were most likely the moving force behind the initiative to have it declared an "ecological township" and the first "non-nuclear zone" in Argentina. Could it be that their presence also led to the area becoming a major producer of hops - almost 75% of the country's production? We were rather sorry not to have visited during the summer months when the fertile valley is apparently brimming with strawberries, raspberries, cherries, plums and other luscious fruits
Always aware of the imminent winter weather, we decided not to stick around to check out the theory of visiting UFOs - another of the town's legendary claims. The intermittent sunny periods were enough to convince us to continue north on our way to warmer climes, and we were pleased to have the weather on our side as we left town. Our first hint of anything amiss was the transport truck coming in the opposite direction with several inches of snow on its rooftop. Less than an hour later as we steadily climbed up out of the valley we were reduced to a crawl, experiencing real winter driving conditions for the first time in sixteen months.
The mountain passes were particularly slippery and difficult to traverse, and although we did see one snow plow, it was apparently much too early in the season for them to be out in full force. Thus we had no option but to wait when confronted with three large articulated trucks that had failed to make the grade and had completely blocked the road. Never mind, while they whipped out their chains, snow shovels and other winter paraphernalia, we whipped out our trusty kettle, made ourselves a cup of coffee, and had a game of Scrabble. Ah, the beauty and comfort of travelling in a fully equipped van!!