Sunday, April 14, 2013

Quina Quila.

It is our last day in San Martin de Los Andes and although still cloudy the rain has stopped and there is now only a brisk breeze blowing. Mariano has already done a lot of driving and tomorrow we go home which for them will be about 13 hours of drive time. We have spent very little time in San Martin itself so decide we will stay close to town. Mariano suggests driving to Villa Quila Quina for lunch and then come back to town to check out the shops. Sounds like a great idea and so once again we get ourselves and the dogs together for the day. Although only 18 km (12 miles) from San Martin, Quila Quina is a world away from the bustle and tourist atmosphere of San Martin. Access to the tiny village is either by boat or road and although the boat sounds fun, since we have the dogs we will take the car. It is no sooner than we make the climb up from San Martin that we make the turn to go back down the other side of the mountain into the village. The road is steep and narrow as we twist down the winding road to the edge of Lake Lacar. There are a couple of small boats bobbing at the dock and a few people milling around but that is all. However, there is a restaurant serving amazing seafood that is quite busy. We decide to eat first and explore afterwards. The food was delicious with fresh fish and side dishes. We then collected the dogs and walked along the lake edge, away from the few houses that make up the village. As the dogs ran and played in the water, we passed families picnicking, and a corral full of horses that we presumed you could hire. There were a few stands selling Mapuche handmade items which we browsed but mainly we stayed close to the lake and let the dogs run. At lake edge there are some beautiful old cypress type trees with huge gnarled trunks and exposed roots which spread into the lake itself. They were fascinating to check out. We also passed a gorgeous, well-tended garden belonging to a local Mapuche family. The well planted array of lilies, orchids, roses and flowering cacti were vivid in color and variety. Reluctantly we left so we could get back to San Martin in time to do a little shopping. After such a fantastic few days, I wanted to buy Mariano and Marcela a Thank you gift. Mariano went to the clothes store that sells his favorite brand of clothing, Patagonia, while Marcela and I browsed the artisan shops. She found a beautiful scarf made from rabbit fur and embroidered braided material in white, which she loved but thought too expensive. As she went to look at another store, I went back and had the lady gift wrap it for me. I met back up with Marcela who was buying a few small items as gifts for her housekeeper. Mariano was easy to buy for. One of his passions is cooking and cookbooks, so I went to a bookstore I had seen and got him two local cookbooks. Mariano met back up with us, he had purchased a shirt and some pants, both Patagonia brand. Everyone seemed pleased with their respective purchases. After we had showered and dressed for dinner, we opened a bottle of wine at the cabana and toasted our trip and one another. I gave Marcela and Mariano their gifts, which they loved and Mariano surprised us with a present each. In one of the artisan stores he had seen us look at some handmade toothpicks in a decorative holder to be used when serving appetizers but we had decided not to buy them. He had went later and picked up a set for each of us. I couldn’t help but feel the warm glow that comes around good friends who appreciate and have fun in each other’s company and to think if our transmission had not broken down for a second time in Rada Tilly, we would never have met them. God truly operates in mysterious ways.

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