LUGARES MAGAZINE Nro. 51
Pags. 54 - 59
By: Soledad Gil
VILLA LA ANGOSTURA
Everyone is talking about the "villa", as La Angostura is known. There are new building plots, a boulevard under construction and a proposed ring-road to keep trucks away from the centre of the town.
Meanwhile the luxuriant forest of tall coihue trees and oscillating treetops still form those dark and hidden niches, where only a few rays of light struggle to break through. They almost make one want to reach out and touch them, to climb the improvised paths among the roots and try to grasp the light, so rare in the heart of the forest.
For their part, the classics - faithful to their stigma as such - continue to feed the legend. Las Balsas is still the house of everyone's dreams. Besides the exquisite decoration, the delightful and unique views and the new spa facilities are an added gift. To go from there to the Llao Llao by boat, or vice versa, is a fun day trip to do with friends. Spending a few days in Las Balsas is the perfect way to make all your dreams come true.
Other options are the practical apart-hotels of Lomas del Correntoso, or to enjoy the service and generous views of La Posada, on the banks of the Nahuel Huapi. A little further, where the Nahuel Huapi meets with the Lake Correntoso, there are rumours that the legendary Hotel Correntoso will re-open its doors.
In the gastronomic chapter, La Casita de la Oma, which is already a classic after ten years in business is competing with the newer Cielo Verde, in the cakes category. In the dinner classification, the La Balsas restaurant and La Macarena rate first. But it is vet to he seen how the second stage of Waldhaus, belonging to Betina and Gastón Mulás will do this year. They have just inaugurated in the grass roofed house, opened last year by Rudy Luegmayer.
It is identical to the one he had in Carilo, so he decided to open another one in Patagonia. Betina and Gastón plan to maintain the wonderful atmosphere of the house, but changed the menu to a Swiss-German style, which is sure to be one of the most interesting options this season.
Farático, Peregrino, Eladia and Pulmarí are the fleet belonging to Gustavo Najda and Marcelo Gómez Maggi. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled, especially on the latter, with its barbecue, two cabins, kitchen, and even a bathroom with bidet!' Gustavo and Marcelo are two "porteños" who have lived in Angostura for the last 20 and 10 years respectively, mainly for their love for sailing and fishing.
The Pulmarí is the ideal boat to use when you feel like and then just sit back and let them look after you. They are on top of every detail and it is enough for their customers to express their preference for a certain wine, a particular brand of chocolate or a special piece of music and the
owners will have them ready on the next outing. With the conviction that women should not have to suffer during the fishing expeditions of their husbands, and have a boring time on the boat, they have all kinds of entertainment for them on board as well as games for the children.
The circuit on foot through the Quetrihué Peninsula up to the myrtle forest, sailing to its jetty or Victoria Island, and the one kilometre walk to the Incayal waterfall are favourite "easy" trekking outings. The Bayo Mountain in summer is ideal to climb on a bicycle and then to rattle down again with challenging bumps and twists and turns. The Bayo also offers the best view of the Nahuel Huapi, the Correntoso, the Espejo...the lakes in the region that have conquered those who arrive here with the hope of becoming conquerors themselves.
Bariloche, San Martin and La Angostura have the benefit of cheaper fuel. With a 30`% discount compared to the rest of the country, petrol costs only $0.70 per litre. That was all the excuse we needed to set out to see the beauty of the Seven Lakes Route for ourselves. Only 40 of its 100km are paved but, Leaving the dust aside, the landscape is beyond compare.
Villa Traful is 60km from Villa La Angostura and 104km from San Martin de los Andes on the winding, but unforgettable, Route 65. The lake is a long, blue tongue, which can get choppy when it is windy, but is always very calm in the mornings. The village is an untouched jewel between these two centres of growing development.
There are those who say that this is so because of the gravel roads, others say that it is because there is no available land. Whatever the reason, the main square in Traful is surrounded by tulips planted in discreet geometric patterns, with a brand new church on the top of a hill.
Two restaurants, two hostels, a pair of cabins and that's it. To ask for more would be greedy. In summer one can visit, but wearing a thick neoprene wetsuit, the "submerged forest". This forest is a large piece of mountain, that sank with cypress trees and all, and is perfectly preserved under water. Divers and excursions come from Bariloche, which is to be expected in a village as small as this.
You can count the "born and bred" of Traful on the fingers of your hands. One of them is Irma Martí, whom the whole world knows as Jacqueline, with the exception of the man at the registry office 60 years ago, who said to her mother that the name was very difficult to pronounce, so to look for another. Irma-Jacqueline is an only daughter whose parents opened the first tourist business in Traful in 1940, the Villa Traful hostel. It has four bedrooms and four well-priced cabins. It is but a step away from the lake, but her neighbour planted cypress trees in front that have now blocked the view of the lake completely.
She remembers the days before those trees existed and showed us a photograph of her parents standing in front of the hostel with Lake Traful in the background. The plot has a marvellous
garden, full of flowers and fruit trees. Jacqueline does not serve dinner, but there are a few excellent alternatives; Nancu Lahuen, where the trout is delicious (it is also a teahouse and serves hot chocolate) and the "parrilla" La Terraza. It was opened two years ago by Anselmo Zapata and Marta Maliandi and is situated on the top of a hill. The tiring climb has its reward. The view of the lake and valley is accompanied by the pork, "chivito" (goat) and lamb prepared by Anselmo - "the beef here is bad, beef should only be eaten in Buenos Aires", he says.
Anselmo travelled extensively in Patagonia with his children for many years until someone suggested he try Traful. So he did and has stayed ever since with his wife. What do his children think? "You must be out of your mind," they said when he told them the family would settle there. But no one has moved from this spot and now the grandchildren work as waiters during the season.