San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

I’ve never been inspired by commercial buildings. Their tall but blank faces illustrate the simplification that flattens out passion and opportunity in order to produce “monetary success”. However, when I look out at a mountain I see something else. I see something that isn’t shallow, but has depth and character. I don’t see anything that threatens or competes, but something that is able to just lead by example. The grip on my bag then tightens not from anger from having to experience, but from anticipation of getting to experience. I can climb a mountain and be proud of how I struggle with it and how it influences me. And when I reach the top I don’t look around searching for more because the experience I have is “success in itself”. If you gaze upon the mountains, lakes, and forests in Bariloche, outside of the jail bars of commercial buildings, you’ll be reminded again of how much nature can motivate and push you to be more.

San Carlos de Bariloche, like the parks in Paraná, embraces and adapts to the natural environment that it builds itself upon and around. The most notorious area outside of the village is called “circuito chico”. Here people can rent a bike to do a 27km route that winds through the forest and bends around the neighbouring mountains and lakes. The mountains are so immense and articulate that they cast a shadow on themselves to create an image that they are alive. The lakes too seem to be vibrant with life as well as they shine blue highlights along the shore. In fact, the lakes here have the freshest water on the whole planet as a result of the abundance of trees in the area that provide a natural filtration system. For trekking you can go through trails and reach more lakes and mountains that are hidden from the main circuito trail. As for the mountains nearby that you can climb, there are two called “cerro campanario” and “cerro otto”. These are more touristy and not as tall as the others, but still offer humbling views. You can either take a ski lift to reach the top, or you can hike up on foot. At the top you can also find restaurants, a museum, and even a club although the club is more used for private events.

In the village itself, there is a main plaza that is enclosed by cottage style buildings made of wood and stone. Inside the plaza concerts are put on during high season, fire pits are lit at night to set the mood, and people express themselves either through selling knitted hats, playing in marching bands, or organizing protests. Outside the center, you’ll find two main streets full of stores selling chocolate. Tons of chocolate and flavours to go with them such as dulce de leche, fernet, and other types of alcohol. There’s also a great vegetarian restaurant called “Ren’s” that sells a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan food by the pound. 🙂 It’s a very homey village, and as you pass through every intersection your eyes are provided with a beautiful lake with the mountain scenery in the background as it peaks through. On the coastline you see people running every day motivated and inspired by the beautiful nature that surrounds them.

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A little farther outside of the city is a small village called “cerro catedral”, along with a mountain that takes after the same name. This village lives off of the ski and snowboarding culture in the winter. It’s very famous with upscale hostels, and bars where people can relax and socialize after a day on the hill. Cerro catedral is 2.5 kilometers above sea level and it took me three hours to hike up it. When I got to the top, the ski lifts were closed and I was completely alone. It seems we do anything these days to avoid these kinds of moments. These silent moments with nothing to distract you from yourself in the natural world. To be honest, I was afraid and felt like I was in a place I shouldn’t have been, yet I’m glad experienced it. On one side of the peak, I could look down along the rocky extension all the way to Bariloche. On the other I witnessed a stretch of “The Andes Mountains” as its summits spiked up like waves in an violent storm. The picture was stilled though, like i was looking into a painting.

Lastly, there are two volcanos near Bariloche. One, called “cerro leones”, is inactive yet is the oldest in South America. Apparently, its last eruption was 150,000,000 years ago and it’s lost a lot of its height, but its hard foundation is still there with caverns that held in the balls of gas and reactions that kept the volcano active. Walking up to and through the caverns, you can see signs of the currents of water that rafined the rocks as they were still hardening as well. Furthermore, there are also symbols written on the volcano face that were most likely left by the then living aboriginals called “Patagones”. Apart from cerro leones, there’s also “Cerro tronador”. This volcano is supposedly still active, though the last eruption was 10,000 years ago. At the base of the mountain, which is 3.5 km above the sea level, there is a “black glacier” formed by the volcano rocks and dirt that integrated with the water before its freezing. When a glacier calves, it falls into the water and creates a thunder that then echoes off of the mountain walls. Unfortunately, the glacier is melting as a result of global warming and so a pond has been created where the glacier used to extend to.

In the end, if you want to strip it down it’s true that nature doesn’t have a brain. As a result, nature can only have a neutral moral standing because it can’t make decisions. It can have an aesthetic value, or a value for what it offers us, but nature itself can’t be good or bad. No one ever said “that was a good mountain”, and if they did they were only referencing to how deeply it effected them. The ethical realm has been left to us, and people get inspired when they look at nature not by comparing ethics, but by comparing modes of being. In this case it is mostly levels of ethics versus levels of aesthetics. Commercial buildings don’t have a high level of aesthetics, thus people don’t feel they need to raise their level of ethics. You see people making excuses, or being lazy way more in the city for instance. But when you see nature in its form, you’re exposed to a higher level of aesthetics which kicks you in your ass. You feel more responsible, motivated, and determined to raise your ethics and be more in the modes that you are capable.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


 

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