Roberto and Luciano Alba, the owners of Estancia laguna Verde are like family. The opportunity to do business together was a no-brainer. We are really looking forward to seeing where our future together takes us. Fun trips to the lodge for sure and hopefully some new and interesting exploratory trips as well. How we met is for another day. For now we would like to share their story of how they started. In the words of Lucho Alba, “Nuestro Amigo”.
TWO HITCH HIKERS AND A BAD GIRLFRIEND: THE ESTANCIA LAGUNA VERDE STORY.
It was the summer of 2002, when I was vacationing with 4 friends at the small village of Moquehue, in the mountains of north-central part of the province of Neuquen, Northern patagonia, very close to the border with Chile.
A friend of our family has a house there, and he offered me to use it that summer during the month of January, he was going to be there afterwards in February.
I was extremely happy, as I very much loved that place and also had helped him in the building of his cabin. Specifically I had been involved in his beautiful garden, moving dirt, making a few fences, doing many trips with materials, and so on.
It was always combined with fishing of course, so as a teenager or a little bigger, our friend would invite me, and we worked with his 3 sons, from 8 to 2, have a good lunch and off we went to fish every day. Not bad at all!
So I was there having a blast with my friends and I received a message from my girlfriend that she was going to come stay for a week. Our relationship was going down the drain big time, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to last. She thought differently, and saw our problems and many issues and discussions, as “normal”.
So the day I went to pick her up at Zapala city bus station, about 2 hours from the cabin, wasn´t the most pleasant of trips. Me arriving 1 hour late didn’t help at all. Not precisely the best recipe for a good start to her visit!
As we were driving back to the cabin, I was already regretting having said yes to her visit, and the fact that as we arrived to Moquehue, my friends were long gone, and I mean, outta there see you at home, not outta there, be back tonight, didn’t make me happy either.
The next day I thought it would be a good idea to go fishing, so at least I would have some time for me. We were driving to one particular lake I like, about half an hour from the cabin.
As you head south to this lake, just outside the village, you go through a border checkpoint because it is also possible to go to Chile from there.
The border policeman on shift that day knew me from many previous “going fishing” answers every time he stopped me, so I just waved at him, smiled and slowly continued. Right after the check point there were two hitch hikers, with big backpacks, a young couple clearly looking like “gringos”.
As we approached, they promptly had their thumbs sticking out in classic hitchhiker fashion,and I told my girl: “I´ll pick up these guys and give them a ride” (I had already seen their fly rods sticking out of their backpacks).
She replied with a fierce look and pretty loud: “No way! Hell no! Hitchhikers are dirty and smelly, and it is also dangerous to pick up strangers”.
Well, that was all the firewood I needed to start the fire. I of course stopped, and told these guys I was giving them a ride. Without even daring to look at my girlfriend’s face.
The couple was totally stoked as they took a look into the bed of the old Toyota hilux truck, where there was a bunch of fishing stuff. Their names were Erik and Leaf Argotti.