Lupin and bee, Junin de los Andes, Argentina (photo by Luis Bastardo)
In the summer of 2010, after living for almost five years in Buenos Aires, Luis and I decided that it was time to return to the United States the following spring, so decided to spend our last months exploring as much of Argentina and Chile as we could. We bought our first tent together, deciding to go for the smallest, lightest two-person version since we would be backpacking and would need to carry all of our supplies and gear on our backs while potentially hiking for hours or wandering around new towns trying to find an available campsite. With only the loosest of travel plans (as usual), we took a series of long-distance buses first to the west, then to the south of Argentina, with the objective of crossing paths at the beginning of January with our fellow globe-trotting friends from New York, who, at that very moment, were making their own way down through Bolivia and Chile to arrive at Torres del Paine National Park in the southern end of Patagonia.
On the way to our rendezvous, we found ourselves in the lovely town of Junin de los Andes on Christmas Day. Junin (pronounced hoo-NEEN) is a cozy community of tidy, colorful homes with flower-filled cottage gardens, a leafy central square bordered by cafes and crystal clear, frigid, fast-running rivers swimming with fat, shimmering trout. Our campsite was carpeted with roses of every variety and we woke each morning to the lovely perfumed air and the hypnotic collective hum of buzzing bees. Every home and storefront was edged with flowerbeds of every variety, scent and color; especially prevalent were the lupins, usually deep royal blue or purple, but also seen in lemon yellow, pale pink or deep fuchsia. Luis caught one of the bees in action pollinating a lupin one afternoon and snapped this lovely photo which, even in its simplicity (or perhaps, especially), captures the mood of Junin exactly.