When you’re done with the city, go hunt for UFOs: magic in Capilla del Monte

Prayer to Pachamama in Capilla del Monte

“I can’t wait to get back to the mountains” I said, as we trundled down a hill in Cordoba city on the way to a new hostel. Steve agreed. We’d been in the city for a few days and liked it – there were next to no tourists and it had a spritely bustle that had been a novelty after weeks in Patagonia – but the yearning for nature had soon kicked in. As our words registered, we leapt to the same conclusion: “What are we doing then? Let’s go,” and we hailed a taxi to the bus station.

Our chosen destination was Capilla del Monte, a small town about three hours outside of Cordoba, which our couchsurfing host had told us about. It’s famed for UFO sightings and has an abundance of vegetarian food – enough to sate both Steve’s and my curiosity.

Rooftop of our hostel in Capilla del Monte

After a colourful bus ride through Cordoba’s red sierras, we made a beeline for our hostel’s roof terrace. There was the mountain we’d yearned for that morning, majestic above the town. We intended to watch the sunset, but were drawn out by the sound of drumming.

Sunset in Capilla del Monte

The trail of sound took us to a small park beneath the mountain where a group of young people had formed a samba circle. We watched, entranced by the music, and imagined what it would feel like to be a part of such a beat. We speculated that they might be from one of the communities that exist around Capilla, but were too shy to go and ask – skilfully hiding our timidity under a “Oh, we shouldn’t interrupt”.

Is Capilla del Monte a new age town?

This was our first encounter with the hippy side of Capilla del Monte – an element to be expected in a town famed for UFOs and mystery. While we’re not sure we ourselves could live in a community, we have a curiosity about alternative ways of life, and specifically those that seek a connection with the natural world. We both balk at the term ‘new age’ but recognise our complicated relationship with it, empathising with many of the ideas encompassed beneath that umbrella, but being repelled by others.

Crystal bowl concert in Capilla del Monte

Capilla del Monte could easily be called a new age haven. The cafes are filled with flyers for healers of every kind – from yoga to crystals to reiki. Every restaurant has vegetarian food on the menu, and dreadlocks are a common sight. We even went to a crystal bowl concert. But to call Capilla ‘new age’ feels like a reductive insult. These accoutrements don’t define the town. Instead, it’s the energy that likely attracted them in the first place, which sticks in my mind.

Awesome hot chocolate, Capilla del Monte

Hot chocolate with the best name in the world: I knew you were coming so I made you a special hot chocolate

One day, we met with a group of expats who had invited us to their weekly hot chocolate meeting. All of them had been drawn to the town because of what they described as its magic. Not all had seen the lights in the sky or had faith in the idea of Erks (a supposed hidden area beneath the mountain, existing in another dimension), but they all believed in Capilla. They talked of its close-knit community, its openness, and most of all the mountain. They said they’d found peace there.

Mark the chocolate seller

Another night, we met a man selling chocolate on the streets. It turned out he was from Chicago and lived in an eco-community on the outskirts of town. Like the ex-pats, he said the energy of Capilla and the kindness of its people had sucked him in, and he too felt peaceful there.

Claudio and Nadia, Capilla del Monte

But what about the people from Capilla? Later in the week, we couchsurfed with a 50-year-old man, Claudio, and his partner, Nadia. The quiet-spoken and down-to-earth pair had both grown up in the area and couldn’t be described as hippy, but certainly as peaceful. We asked them about the UFOs and the people who had been attracted to the town. On the people, they chuckled and said Capilla had attracted its fair share of crazy people with unusual ideas, but on the whole it brought in good folk, looking for peace, nature and quiet.

Capilla del Monte UFOs

Over his lifetime, Claudio said he’d seen lights over the mountain perhaps 25 times. He couldn’t explain what they were, but said they were unlike anything else he’d ever seen before. He didn’t sensationalise his sightings, or provide a theory of what they might be, but simply put it down to the energy of Capilla.

Victoria and our horseriding guide in Capilla del Monte

Another man who was raised in Capilla gave a similar view. We met him as our horseriding guide and were struck by his seeming connection to the natural world. When we asked him about the lights, he said he’d seen them many times but that it didn’t matter. What mattered was Capilla’s beauty and the energy of its lands. He told us to breathe in the stillness and be present with the moment – to feel that energy, free from the pollutions of the modern world.

Delicious salad in Capilla del Monte

Delicious salad in Soma

And they all had a point. We didn’t see any lights or UFOs, but Capilla did feel magical. The town, with its little cafes, tasty food and breathtaking scenery, relaxed us. We took a knitting class, drank incredible hot chocolate, went horseriding and danced around on the roof to our brand of hippy – Edward Shape and the Magnetic Zeros. It became one of our favourite towns in Argentina and our two night stay turned into a week. It had a peaceful energy and a community atmosphere, and made us thankful for our spur of the moment decision to visit. We’re not sure we could live somewhere that small yet, but we’d certainly like to go back – perhaps next time to be part of that samba beat.

Useful information on Capilla del Monte
  • Capilla del Monte is two hours outside Cordoba on the fast bus, or three on the slow bus, which stops in every town.
Excellent pasta in Capilla del Monte

Pasta in La Carbonara

  • Two exclusively train restaurants are Soma (Pueyreddón 244) and Buddhi (Pueyreddón and Salta). Another good option is La Carbonara (25 de Mayo and Corrientes) which has excellent vegetarian pasta.
  • Our favourite cafes were Kafka, which feels like a cosy step back in time, and Sabia que venias y prepare un pastel (I knew you were coming and I made a cake), a modern cafe with a great selection of teas and cake.
Homemade pasta shop, Dona, in Capilla del Monte

Homemade pasta shop Dona

  • We went horseriding with El Arbol. Ask around in town and they will know who you’re talking about (more on the horseriding next week).

Posted on July 24, 2012 by Victoria in Argentina, Destinations 10 Comments

10 Responses to When you’re done with the city, go hunt for UFOs: magic in Capilla del Monte

  1. Janit

    Capila sure does sound like a nice place to spend some days at.
    Interesting post.
    Janit recently posted..Sarkhej Roza: Ahmedabad’s AcropolisMy Profile

     
    • Victoria

      It is. I hope you get to go there one day.

       
  2. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    Capilla sounds a lot like Sedona… but with UFOs. :) Completely aside from the whole “new age” thing, I think it’s great that there are some towns that have this type of positive energy. I’ve always thought that cities give off different vibes; some you’ll connect with, and some you won’t.

     
    • Victoria

      Exactly. Its the same with most things in life – towns, tastes, people, books etc – some you vibe with, some you don’t. Sedona sounds great. Hopefully we’ll get to visit one day.

       
  3. Marisol@TravelingSolemates

    Hello, I just stumbled into your blog via Technosyncratic blog. I was truly charmed by your post about Capilla. It sounds intriguing and the kind of place I’d like to visit – I love small towns with good energy and great food. A UFO sighting will be a good bonus! I really enjoy the post. Look forward to reading more. Great photos, too!
    Marisol@TravelingSolemates recently posted..Pamplona Part 2: It’s not all about the Running of the BullsMy Profile

     
    • Victoria

      Thank you Marisol. It is so wonderful to hear kind words. I’m pleased you found us. Capilla really was a great little town and the food was brilliant. Perhaps if we’d stayed longer a UFO would have been the icing on the cake! Thaks for commenting.

       
  4. droope

    Thanks for the writeup! It’s very inspiring.
    droope recently posted..Hackear paginas web II (Fingerprinting and Information gathering)My Profile

     
  5. Pingback: Food Porn Friday: Shangri-la, Capilla del Monte : Indefinite Adventure

    • Victoria

      Amazing, I’m so pleased you made it to Capilla del Monte! We had an awesome time there.

       
  6. Jeva

    It was fun to read your post – I live in Capilla del Monte but am from Colorado. For having visited only a week, I think you did an excellent job capturing the essence of the place. My partner and I organize the expat meeting at Sabia que venias every Friday at 6. If any travelers are passing through and would like to chat with some international folk, we are always open to meeting new people. Happy travels!

     

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