When we were in Cordoba City, we were looking for more little towns to visit in the province as we had heard there are more beautiful places in the surrounding areas rather than the city itself. We also had had enough of city life and really wanted to escape somewhere for some peace and quiet.
Our day visits to Carlos Paz and Alta Gracia were lovely but not exactly what we were after. We heard about the little town of Capilla del Monte from talking to another couple at our hostel and it appealed to me instantly after hearing there were lots of good veggie restaurants and the town also has various spiritual activities like meditation, reiki, crystal healing and many more. Plus, the nearby mountains seem to have this energy that many people who visited the area feel quite strongly. So off we went to Capilla del Monte originally to have a look for a few days but ended up staying there 10 days. There are so many reasons why we fell for Capilla and its people and, in the end, it felt so much like home that I was in tears when we had to leave… I’ll try to explain why this place means so much to us now and why we would definitely consider coming back for a longer period in the future.
Our first Couchsurfing experience
We didn’t have much luck with our Couchsurfing requests in previous cities as people either were not available or didn’t respond. Just when we thought that we were never going to get a positive response at 11pm, the night before we were travelling to Capilla, we received an email from a guy named Duncan accepting our request. Little did we know at the time that this experience would turn in to something very special and we would gain a lifetime friend.
Because we got our dates mixed up on the CS request (Doh!) we had to stay in a hostel for our first night in town and we met Duncan the following evening. In his email Duncan had told us that his own house was already occupied and he was house sitting his friend’s place a little outside the town and we could stay there with him if we don’t mind the long walk to the town centre and the cold nights! We really wanted to stay with a local so we didn’t care where or what type of living conditions the place had and we responded yes to his email and looking back I’m so glad that we did.
Duncan welcomed us in to his house by sharing a maté with us. We had been trying the tea bag version of it and were keen to try the real deal as we kept seeing loads of Argentinian people drinking it almost everywhere. He added some extra herbs from his garden to the maté and showed us how to prepare and drink it. It was delicious. Some might find the taste a bit bitter but we loved it!
While we were sipping our maté and thanking him for hosting us he told us how random it was that he saw our Couchsurfing message as the day he saw our request was the first time that he logged on and checked his account in over a year. He began explaining the rather unfortunate situations that led us to him; He used to live with his girlfriend in the house but she wanted privacy and no strangers staying with them so Duncan deactivated his CS account. A week before we arrived she decided to return to Buenos Aires and left him after a visit to Los Terrones Mountain (I’ll talk about the mystery of that mountain later in the post). And just two days before we arrived his 1 year dog was run over by a car and died. Rather than being alone in his house with no dog and no girlfriend he went to visit a friend to cheer up and it was only there that he had internet access and activated his Couchsurfing account and decided to open a new chapter in his life as he realized how he missed meeting new people. So he accepted our request without even checking our profile.
After finishing our maté, he said he’d stay at his mum’s place in town for the night where his son, Etienne, was staying and we should make ourselves home and could stay as long as we want! Because it was his son’s school holiday time, he would come back to the house on the weekend. We told him that, the night before when we were having dinner at a restaurant, we’d met this American guy, Mark, who was selling homemade chocolates and we had arranged to visit him on Saturday for lunch at his Eco-village as he wanted to cook us a veggie meal with local products so we invited Duncan and his son to come along with us. It turns out Duncan already knew Mark and really likes the guy so he said he would love to join us.
The next few days in the house were spent relaxing and enjoying the sun in the garden and getting attached to the cat that jumped on our laps and purred loudly whenever we were near. We called her Patches. Patches quickly became very dear to us being the friendliest and also the mellowest cat we had seen so far. She was constantly either sleeping in our arms or following us around the house. She reminded me so much of my cat, Pamuk, back home in so many ways that by the time we were leaving Capilla I was so attached to her that I had this crazy idea of taking her with us!
My first time seeing the Milky Way and photographing it in that matter
No words needed, just the photo.
Meeting a fellow Turkish lady and finding out just how small the world really is!
2 days into our Capilla experience, we took a quiet stroll around the village decided to sit in a café with the most interesting name – Sabia que venias y prepare un pastel (I knew you were coming and I made you a cake!). We also saw that advertised on the window was a weekly expat meeting in the café later that evening so we thought we’d spend a couple hours there and get to meet some new people. When Ian went to order our hot drinks, the guy at the counter asked him where we were from. When he said I was Turkish, the waiter said that there was a Turkish lady living in Capilla and she was in the café that day. Ian went back to our table to let me know but in the mean time I had gone to the toilet and had met Sinem on the way out before finding it out from Ian. We began chatting away in Turkish (which I hadn’t done in a long time!) and soon found out that I used to work with her uncle and one of her cousins back in Izmir! It’s a small world indeed! It also turns out that she was the architect that designed this café with her Argentinian architect husband, Ignacio.
Sinem is one of those people that you instantly feel close to and I knew that we would become very close by the end of our time in Capilla del Monte…
We enjoyed meeting and chatting to the other expats that night in the café. They all came through to Capilla del Monte in search of a new home and it’s remarkable how quickly this place became very special for them too. We invited Sinem and Ignacio to the lunch at Mark’s place the following day also so we could meet him and spend a day together with our new friends.
Rusty, our loyal local guide
After checking out from our hostel, we had quite a bit of time to kill before meeting Duncan (our Couchsurfing host) in the evening so we went for a walk around the town. Just when we were walking around the old train tracks, a clean looking and well looked-after dog started following us and then, after some time, started walking in front of us. We thought she was soon going to be bored and leave us but kept us company all the while we walked 2km outside the town to visit a small rock formation – El Zapato. We called her Rusty. Along the walk Rusty was very protective of us and when other dogs came up to us Rusty barked and chased them away. When we paid the entrance fee to the little park, the guy at the gate thought it was our dog and let her in with us. She came up onto the rocks with us and even posed in the pictures. We walked back to town together and sat down in a restaurant to have some dinner while she waited for us outside patiently. She even came with us when we went to meet Duncan that evening and when we got in the cab to go to his place, the way Rusty was looking at us from behind the car was heart breaking, as if she wanted to be adopted by us. I felt so bad leaving her behind but Duncan said that because she wore a collar she must have an owner.
Next day we followed a trail up to Cerro Uritorco (one of the nearby mountains) through a hippie community on the outskirts of Capilla as per Duncan’s suggestion as he once was invited to share maté with them and said they were the nicest people he met. Unfortunately, we didn’t see anyone from the village as it was siesta time when we walked through but nonetheless we enjoyed a really nice walk along a different route to the mountain so we didn’t have to pay the entrance fee. When we arrived at the foot of the mountain where there are few shops and a restaurant I saw Rusty! She was following two girls and even though Ian warned me not to follow her, so we could avoid a similar heartbreak as the day before, I did and went to say hi to her one more time! She remembered me and started wagging her tail vigorously and once again she was guiding us for the 3km hike back in to town…
When we sat down at the café where I met Sinem, Rusty sat beside my foot all afternoon, when it got colder in the evening and we joined the expat meeting inside, she just waited outside for us for hours! We had to take a cab back to the house as we knew she would follow us if we walked home. Even though I so wanted to bring her home with us, it wouldn’t be fair on the owner waiting for her. We also weren’t sure if Duncan would want a new visitor in the house. Sadly that was the last time I saw Rusty and spent the whole day with her but I can certainly say that we built a very special bond with Rusty and will never forget her!
A perfect day at Nuna Wasi
Mark, originally from Chicago, came to Capilla del Monte three years ago where he met and married his Argentinian wife and, together with her sister and mother, they created their own eco village outside the town and named it Nuna Wasi. Mark’s mother-in-law, Silvina and her daughters were from Buenos Aries but all at some point or another were fed up with the city lifestyle. They visited many places around Argentina but nowhere seemed right until they came across Capilla del Monte. Mark has also worked hard to setup a fabulous open kitchen where he creates different menus from home grown or locally produced vegetables and fruits and invites people to share in his love of cooking. His ambition is to become the first Michelin Star chef in Argentina and from what we experienced that day, he’s not far off! In the evenings he also sells his (amazing!) homemade chocolates in town walking around the restaurants and engaging with people in the kindest most genuine manner. That’s how we met him on our first night in Capilla and found out a bit of his story. Like most of the town residents, Mark is also vegetarian and told us he would cook us a gourmet veggie lunch with local ingredients if we could visit him one day. He wrote down the directions to his place and we arranged to visit him on Saturday.
So come the Saturday, we had made some new friends and invited them all along with us to have lunch like one big family
Nuna Wasi is 8km north of Capilla del Monte, on the route to Cruz del Eje. It’s in a secluded part of Los Mogotes Mountain, surrounded by some more beautiful mountain scenery.
We were welcomed by Silvina at the gate and, while Mark was preparing the most delicious veggie lunch, we were taken around for a tour to see how they had turned this quiet little wilderness by a tranquil river into their home. I’ll let the pictures to tell the rest of the story…
We spent a wonderful day getting to know each other and sharing stories. We found out about Duncan’s deep knowledge of different plants, his interest in photography and a crazy story how he once went travelling with his friend whereby all decisions on their trip were made by the flick of a coin! Also how Sinem & Ignacio met in Turkey and I enjoyed the Turkish vocabulary contest between Ian and Ignacio (Ian will have to study a lot more), and Mark’s detailed information about the health benefits of the food we enjoyed during the day.
Mystery of Los Terrones
One of the reasons we were attracted to come to Capilla was that this town was surrounded by mountains that are believed to have a powerful mysterious energy. People who live there also believe that whether or not one could stay in Capilla is determined by this energy. As in Duncan’s girlfriend’s case, after a hike one day to Los Terrones, she came back crying her eyes out and decided to leave Capilla immediately and return to Buenos Aires essentially ending her and Duncan’s relationship.
Sinem and Ignacio kindly offered to drive us to Los Terrones one afternoon which we were really grateful for as it’s not easy to reach without a car. Duncan had suggested finding his friend who is one of the guides working there as he is a very spiritual person so the tour would be very special. Unfortunately, he wasn’t working that day and the guide who showed us around wasn’t a local so did not have a particularly deep knowledge and understanding of the area. Nonetheless I still had a very interesting experience. It started as if I was high on something while we were walking through the gaps in the massive rocks, then I started smiling and a crazy thought came to my mind that something or someone was watching us and whispering. I felt a sudden urge to touch one of the rocks as if it was going to help me hear it better. My palms felt warm and the warmth slowly started moving through my whole body as if filling it with love and happiness. The feeling was similar to what I felt when I finished my Reiki training couple of months ago. It left me a little dizzy but in a peaceful state of mind. When I shared my experience with Ian that night (he also had felt the energy), we both agreed that Capilla would have a very special place in our hearts forever, not only how it made us feel but also how we gained so many valuable friends in such a short time. It almost felt like all the random events that brought us here weren’t so random but part of a mysterious plan.
All this might sound weird to you readers but sometimes it’s really hard to explain how you feel about someone or some place. In Capilla Del Monte we had an amazing time full of coincidences and randomness that led us meet wonderful people and see special places. For that, we will always be truly grateful…