El Bolson is Argentina’s happy little hippy community. It’s also the country’s hops capital where 75% of its hops are grown. Nestled in the mountains at the foothills of the Andes, folks come to visit and get drawn into the beautiful location and slower pace of life. Harry’s been dreaming about El Bolson since he first read about it months ago, so what better place for us to spend his birthday weekend than in El Bolson?
Luckily the bus ride from Esquel north to El Bolson was only two short hours so we arrived midday with a spring in our step, ready to explore. The best part (and the only good part) of our airbnb stay was having Aldo pick us up at the bus station to give us a ride to our new home. We definitely won’t be nominating his bachelor pad rental for Best in Show.
What a cute little town, indeed. El Bolson is the Eugene, Oregon of Argentina. We went to the artisan market on Saturday and Sunday and enjoyed walking around, people watching. There were families and stray dogs and wafting scents of you-know-what at every turn. Lots of smiling faces, the prerequisite drum circle and plenty of fresh fruit juices (which is a rarity in Argentina). We had some really good food and Harry enjoyed a locally brewed beer (again, a rarity).
Lago Puelo National Park
We spent Harry’s birthday (March 21st) at Lago Puelo, a beautiful mountain lake only a half hour bus ride outside town. After sunning ourselves on the beach for a while we felt a hankering for adventure so we set off with our shoes in hand to cross the first of many shallow rivers flowing into the lake.
We quickly realized that walking on wet stones with bare feet was more painful and slippery than exciting, so we ended up just keeping our hiking shoes on and getting wet. This tactic made more sense in that we moved quicker and we looked more hard core (not that anyone was looking). After following a dirt trail for a short while we decided to create our own path with our own rules. Rule #1: when there’s a fence, climb over it. Rule #2: when there’s a river, walk through it. Rule #3: when there’s private property, ignore it. Rule #4: when it’s your birthday, do as you wish.
We eventually found ourselves back at the national park entrance feeling elated, pretty sneaky and very soggy. Off-roading in Patagonia, yes!
Look, a birthday cake! No, I didn’t make it, and no, I didn’t buy it. But I did take a secret photo of it and showed it to Harry at just the right moment. He thought it was a pretty thoughtful gesture. And the beer? Well, this guy likes his beer and drinking a chilled artisan brew in Argentina’s hippy town made him pretty darn happy. Cheers to many more birthdays and beers, Harry!