Thursday, April 26, 2007

San Junin de los Andes

This is fish town

Next stop was San Junin de los Andes. If San Martin was comatose, life support for Junin had been unplugged and the priest was on his way. There was not a trace of the wood-and-stone architecture that we had grown accustomed to, and there were but one tourist attraction in the whole dirt road town. A perfect place to chill out and take a break from the rigours of full-time travel (I know, I know- but this lifestyle does get stressful, honest). We checked into our hotel, note the lack of the letter 's', and enjoyed the privilege of a double bed for the first time since we landed on this big ol' hunk o dirt. The bed was fantastic, but a distinct bore-water smell emanated from the bathroom, the sneaky kind of odour that lingers silently in the background, and as soon as you stop moving, WHOOSH! Its violating your nostrils and you have to do something, anything, just to distract your senses from the assault. For a while you can convince yourself that 'It's not so bad, just a little earthy' but eventually you must get out of there.

Big cross

And get out of there we did, to the one tourist attraction within 60km of the town centre. Via Christi is a sculpture park that illustrates the life of Christ and intertwines that story with the story of the geographic, physical and spiritual conquest of the indigenous Mapuche people. The imagery is graphic and doesn't hold back when it comes to highlighting the way the Spanish really got in there and stamped all over the locals. The chunky, larger than life-size sculpture is admirable in its humility, especially when looking at it from an Australian perspective, where we have our own paralleling story but exist in an official state of denial...

Local wildlife

One night in the stink hole hotel was enough, and we checked out the next day. Our new home in Junin was a beautiful hostel at the backend of town, across the road from a shallow watercourse, perfect for fly fishing. Apparently this town is the Trout Capital- of what I'm not sure (Argentina? South America? The World?)- all the road signs are in the shape of fish here, and our hostel is plastered with photos of the owner holding fish in his hands and a fly rod in his teeth (Angie says this is so you don't think that he just picked them up out of the river with his bare hands). So trout seemed to be the main reason this place was there, the other reason is that it is the gateway to Lanin National Park and Volcan Lanin, which of you remember back to the Pucon post, is right on the border of Chile and within sight of Volcan Villarica.

San Junin trout hangout

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