Summary: During November of 1922, Alfred and Olga undertook a riding trip across the Andes to Chile. They first travelled by train from B.A. south-west to Bahia Blanca, then west along the Rio Negro valley, through Neuquen (city), to Zapala, a town at the base of the Andes foothills. It took them two days to ride across the first range of foothills to estancia “Pulmarí” (its headquarters is next to where the Pulmarí river joins the Aluminé, see map below). They stayed a week at Pulmarí, sightseeing & visiting with friends (Babs) and Olga’s brothers Humphry & Chumps Horner. When they left Pulmarí, they rode north to Lago Aluminé, then west along its northern shore, crossing the Andes into Chile at the Paso de Icalma (1,303 mts – 4,000 ft.). It took them 3 days to reach Curacautín. Thereafter they travelled by train, north to Santiago, then west across the Andes to Mendoza, and back to B.A.
Transcription notes: Transcribed verbatim without intentional corrections to grammar or spelling. Alfred's handwriting is quite legible; however, he wrote in pencil which has faded. We inserted mementos from the trip, as well as our own map and photos. We did not transcribe his detailed list of expenses, which are almost as interesting as the actual diary (total cost of the trip: $2,461.35 m/n). (Transcribed by: René Benitz)
Left Las Rosas (AB & OB) 430 PM & had dinner at Palace Hotel. Left every thing well at Las 3 Lagunas as had big rains last week. Sykes was there & had tennis G. Paul. Brooker etc.
Arrived in BA 7 AM & went to Grand Hotel for day. Mrs & Miss Land, Higham & Alfredito Benitz had lunch with us. About 3 PM a robber was found in our room, & was captured before he had a chance to steal any thing. Had to go to Comisaria in Calle Tucuman to sign a declaration. Saw Ignacio Andieu re re-renting Los Prinos to Vasca Argentina said he was conforme. Bought a new American lawn mower & got repuests for old one. Went to fat stock show at Palermo in aftenoon. Some good fat beasts.
Took the 6.38 PM train to Zapala, Alfredito saw us off. Fine day. Wrote to Estancia. Took 3 tickets to Zapala to be able to get 4 berth compartments.
Fine day.. rained some which was lucky as dust was getting
bad after leaving ? Medanos Train got into Bahia Blanca about 8.30
& same dormitorio left on train for Zapala or Neuquen about 15 minutes later.
The country around Pringles etc seemed quite nice also around Serra de la
Ventana lots of trees having been planted & fine fields of wheat & oats.– After
leaving Bahia Blanca got into an arid country which xtends to Zapala & Pulmari.–
Around Medanos seemed quite a lot of irrigation. Did not see
m much of the
Rio Colorado as RRoad does not skirt it. Passed Choele Choel about dark &
arrived at Neuquen about 11.30 PM & stopped in Dormitorio.
Lucky in having a good day to travel & not much dust. Train service quite good.–
Fine day. Left Bahia Blanca at 6 A.M. Rushed over to hotel & had a cup of coffee. Also had some coffee in train which we got last night from Comedor Coach.. At Plaza Huinca were a lot of derricks where they were boring for oil. & refineries for making nafta etc. South of the lines a German Co. wen down 1500 metres & not found oil yet. Arrived at Zapala at 11.30 AM & went to hotel Zapala had lunch & stopped the night. 2 peones from Zapala Pinchiers and Ernesto Paredes were awaiting us to leave tomorrow morning for Pulmari. Met the 2 Trannocks & Ramboud who is the agent for Pulmari. Quite a town with perhaps 8 or 10 boliches. Dining room at Hotel quite full. Seems a dusty place as one could see with all the sand piled up. Pity water was not laid on & trees planted. Tamarisk hedges seem seem the favorite all the way from B Blanca. One can see the Chalil mts to the west covered with snow.–
Treed to get an early start but peons did not turn up until 6.20 AM. Each have 2 horses and 3 pack animals. Went north about 1 ½ leagues then westerly. passed the lag Miranda where there were a lot of sheep about 10 AM & then went about 3 ½ leagues more to a stream where we camped for noon. 1st stream we passed. In afternoon 1. PM until about 7 we passed over Sainuco pass which by Aneroid was 780 metres higher than Zapala (1000 mts). (1780 mts) Lots of snow about, but it was not very cold. After passing the pass where there is a house with very stoping roof over a deep hollow & lots of piñon trees we went on about a league further & stopped at a stope by a small burn (stream) & as the men said better feed for horses. Said we had marched 15 legues today. Olga very tired. Fine day. Our faces pretty well burned. Lots of dust going behind horses.
Another fine day. Had to go a long distance around to get to Pulmari [written above line: on top of Lonca Luan (its pampa)] as the River Aluminé was swollen & had to go by Balsa at end of Aluminé lake & then down to Pulmari.
Passed a high pampa Loncó Luan beautiful scenery. Got to Alumine lake about 10.30 & were passed over by a policia in the balsa by a policia. 20ct each horse. Lovely Blue lake with snow mountains around on two sides. Fine scenery. Stopped for lunch at about a league from the balsa and I was unfortunate to forget my false teeth there. Left camp at 1.15 P.M. & arrived at Pulmari at 4.45 PM. Up and down road & rather dificult for bullock carts. Babs & wife were at home, & latter Chumps and and Humphry turned up, as they are shearing now. Very comfortable house & most fertile spot we have seen yet. Brot some wedding presents for Babs. Not very tired considering the long journey. Aneroid says this is 40 mitros higher than Zapala or 1040 mts over sea level.– Have a small garden and are sure that with proper irrigation things could be grown. But frosts in Summer
guess the aneroid must have dropped 40 meters as this is supposed to be same height as Zapala
Ea. Pulmari & Rio Aluminé
The house is barely visible
at far (north) edge of field.
(Source: PBz 1966)
Pulmari. Had a rest today, cleaned up etc Fine day, Thermometre min 1° +.
Pulmari. OB, myself Humphry & Chumps went on a picnic to Montaña Taraya Polcahue where there is a fine forest of Auracana, Lengua & Nieré trees. Big trees, measured one Auracana which was 5 metres in circumference. The rough grass Coiron is supposed to be very fattening when in seed & in full. Highest point going was 500 mts over house.– Fine day.
Pulmari. Cold windy day. Went with Babs to a rodeo across the Pulmare where they were parting dry cows to lighten potrero.–
went across the river in Chata but crossed it on way back. In afternoon I walked to a place down stream where they had dug for gold.
Pulmari. Frost -6°½. OB, AB & Land rode down to Santiago Canturrutis store on the Rucacheroi about 3 ½ leagues from house. Quite a nice place with poplars fruit trees and garden. Had an overshot water wheel & a machine for making cider. Had a fine trout for lunch.
Came back by the apple forests on the Alumine, hundreds of big & small apple trees, but which seemed as if diseased with the langirera?. Fine day. Passed alongside of Quilachanquil.
West end of Lago Pulmari
Lonca Mula mountain
at right (north).
(Source: PBz at Painted Rock, 1984)
Araucaria pine trees,
west of Lago Aluminé
(Source: PBz, 1984)
Pulmari -4 ½° frost. Babs & wife, AB, OB & Humphry went for a long ride (4 leagues) to Humphrys summer place at the Mapio – passed the Polcahue lake before getting to Humphrys. Had an asado etc at head of lake Margarita or Pulmari at a place called Lonca Mula. Got back to the house about 6.30 P.M. Fine day. Santiago Canturutti stops the night.–
Fine day – Rested all day & made preparation for our trip tomorrow to Chile. Walked in afternoon down the Pulmari river.–
Fine day, bit cloudy but cool. Left Pulmari 6 AM with the 2 Pincheira brothers for Curacatin taking 2 horses each & 2 cargueros. Humphry went with us as far as the lancha at the outlet of the Alumine & Land went with us as far as Whitworths 6 leagues. Nice place on the lake & they gave us a very good lunch. Fine view of Llaima volcano which had a little smoke. Left again at 1 PM & got to Quintanas Almacen Pehueneo at about 6 PM when we stopped the night [written above preceding: 14 leagues today.] River Bio Bio. tributaries we passed Liacura & Pehuelca. Fine trout at Whitworths. Bleak country up by the frontera but fine scenery. plenty of snow. Lot of indian huts as we get down.
Got an early start 6 AM & got to Lonquimay 7 leagues at 11 AM. Stopped a moment at Switzers, a big store with water power about ½ way. Lots of fields of alfa on way & very settled. Stopped at a poor resturant for lunch & a rest until 1.45 P.M. (Prusse) Changed $100 Arg for $250. Chile. Went over the mountains until we got to Manzanares where we arrived at 7.20 P.M. very tired & wet as it rained for last ½ hour. At Malalcahuello a comisario stopped us & wanted guia for horses so one of the men had to go back to Lonquinay (6 PM) (he arrived at Manzares next morning 9.30 AM with guia all right.) Very climby afternoon, up 3 hours & then down. Wonderful forrests of Pine, oak, Coique etc. Reminded one of California.
Quite a nice hotel at Manzanares where there are hot springs. 2 other guests besides our selves. A Rheumatic German and a Chillian cattle man from on Lonquimay river
Rained a lot in evening . Guess these are highest mountains we passed yet.
Curu Cautin.– Had baths this morning in the hot springs at Manzares. Supposed to be good for rheumatism. Quite a nice hotel this at Manzares kept by a Frenchman Jacques with a French Swiss wife. Left there about 3 PM & arrived at Hall Terma, Curu Cautin at 5.30 nice ride through a very pretty country.
RRoad begins here. Began raining in evening.– Election day, so town pretty lively with chaps on horse back dashing about. See a good class of horses here. Several saw mills on road today & lots of sawn timber here. Met Mr Sanchez who is Horners agent.–
Fine warm day. no dust. Left Curucautin at 9 AM & arrived at Victorio at about 12 & went to Hotel Royal (I think) where we had lunch & siesta. The Pincheiras left behind at Curu cautin gave each $10. Arg. Baggage has to be addressed in paint to be despatched. Rather poor RR coach as far as Victorio. Left Victoria again at 5 PM and arrived at Concepcion at about 11 PM. & went to Hotel Francaise which is best in town. Quite an interesting journey through a very pretty country. Beautiful cherries & straw berries for sale everywheres. A man who has a fundo near Curu cuatin Isorias Deramond xplained conditions on train. Train gave us 20 minutes time for dinner at San Rosende, This train from Victorio to Concepcion quite fast.
Concepcion. Hotel Francaise. Quite a good Hotel this. Changed $100 Arg for 285 Chilenas. Very interesting market vegitables, fruit, baskets all sorts, & pottery. Sent bag to get sown or patched as had suffered on pack mule.
Afternoon it rained & had to take a coach at the park which had lovely trees etc & to drive down the Bio Bio where there are lovely residences with beautiful gardens. Went to Cinema, Rained most of day,
Concepcion. This morning took tram to Talcahuano, & then to San Vicente to see if we could not get a fish lunch, but had to go back to the Hotel Royal at Talcahuano where had a very good lunch for 7.70 Arg. including cocktails. good wine etc. Owner an enterprising Russian. Got back to Concepcion 3 PM. Changed $150 Arg for 427.50 Chillian (2.85 = $1.00) Interesting market at Talcahuana, but not so good as here.– Fine day. cool.
Left Concepcion on xpress train for Santiago at 7.45 & arrived at Alameda (Santiago) 7 P.M. Interesting journey. parts of country very fine lots of artificial montes, vinyards (Lontere especially) wheat etc. Women selling cherries, straw berries, & baskets at stations. Had lunch (20 minutes at Chillan, There are famous hot springs here. At Santiago went to Savoy hotel which is quite swagger & had baths & a very good dinner.. (lobster). Fine day for travelling
Santiago, fine day. Hotel Savoy.
Changed $500 Arg to 1790. Chilenas
500 @ 2.98 100 @ 300.
Went to Villalongas & procured tickets to B.Aires & had our cedulas identidad revised. 2 tickets cost $485 Argentinas.
Went to Rodriguez remate of horses & cows. Very poor mancarones sold at about Argentine prices.– Went up Cerro St Lucia in a coach & also visited the fine art gallery.– At night went to cinema & saw a dancer (Not much good). American admiral & lots of officers here from man of war in Valparaiso.–
Fine day. Went to market in morning bought fruit & basket. Despatched our luggage to B. Aires. Villalongas. 2 bags with saddles etc. Took the train at 4.55 PM for Los Andes where we arrived about 8 PM. & went direct to Hotel Sud Americano where had dinner & quite a good front Room. OB has violent attack of diarrehea. Quite a lot of passengers.
Left Los Andes at about 7 AM & arrived at Mendoza at 6.30 PM. nice days journey. train not too packed. The only one we spoke to was an English girl who was from Valparaiso to England. Had dinner on train to BAires which left 8. PM quite best train travelled on our trip, we only have a small camarata.
Arrived in BAires at 7 PM. Lucky it rained during night so there was no dust & quite cool. Camps look very well what we could see in day. Went to Grand Hotel, & to bed early.–
Had Warm day, muggy. Got the two bags luggage out of
customs with out any trouble. Jim Bell & Alfredito had lunch with us. Alredito
also to dinner. Got some encargos for Babs & wife & Humphry
Left BAires on nocturno for Rosario at 9.45 P.M. Olga called on Mr Land who is still very ill.
Arrived at Las Rosas about 10 am. There had been 47 m/n rain last night, which is not doing the harvest much good. There had been a regular hurricane about 10 days ago which broke off a lot of trees. Some places there had been hail. Locusts just coming out. Men scarce on account of harvest. Very warm & muggy.–
© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)