Patagonia: Esquel

It was nighttime when our bus departed Puerto Madryn on the Atlantic Ocean and headed west across Patagonia to Esquel. Located in the foothills of the Andes, we were curious to see what this mountain town had in store for us.

I’m sure you’re surprised to see us on a bus again so soon, just four days after we barely survived our 24-hour bus ride. Well, the ride to Esquel was only nine hours (ha! only nine hours), so we weren’t worried. We decided to save a few bucks and reserve semi-cama (partially reclining) seats. Our seats were located on the top level of the double-decker bus in the very front row, guaranteeing us great view of the stars in the Patagonian sky. We endured this overnight trip like pros and arrived as the sun rose above the town.

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{Can you see Harry’s smiling face? He’s to the left of the two drunk German guys.}

Liliana and Gregorio

Up until this point our accommodations in hotels have felt fairly isolating and we were ready to stay with an Argentinian family. We booked a room through Airbnb and were curious to meet our hosts. Our expectations were exceeded and we had three great days with Liliana, Gregorio and their two extremely affectionate cats. Frank, a retired teacher from Wales, was also renting a room in the house. Liliana speaks five languages and we found her incredibly insightful and interesting. Gregorio, who practices Chinese healing medicine, spoke only Spanish. He and Harry connected over a beer our first day there and they quickly became good friends. Dinner each night was spent around the kitchen table, full of good conversations in both languages. Lots of laughing! It was really sweet when Gregorio toasted Harry’s upcoming birthday on our last night in town.

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Esquel – Chubut Provence, Patagonia

Famous for its powdery snow, skiers flock to this Welsh mountain town in the winter months. Luckily for us we were there the end of summer so we didn’t have to worry about snow or cold temperatures. The rest of the year outdoor enthusiasts use Esquel as base camp while they explore Los Alerces National Park. Residents have been in a long battle to prevent a gold mine from going in nearby and we frequently saw “no mining” signs. I liked knowing that the relaxed and friendly locals could put up a fight when they needed to.

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Esquel was full of surprises at every turn. It is a cute and charming town surrounded by mountains on all sides. Flowers, decorative light posts and art installations along the streets were a visual treat. There’s a strong Welsh influence which can be seen in its architecture and language schools. We were thrilled to find a hippy woman who makes and bakes (not fries) specialty empanadas. Harry’s were stuffed with beef or chicken, and mine had eggs or cheese and onions. Yes, we ate all eight of these for lunch one day!

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We were also impressed to see such a public display of support for alternative lifestyles. IMG_5883IMG_5884

We definitely recommend visiting Esquel if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

 

 

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