Project Bodhi with Julia Kramer: Part 3 - A visit to Peuma Hue

Peuma, a dream that provides a meaningful message. Hue, the way. 

Lavender line the pathway as I walk past the main house at Estancia Peuma Hue towards the lake. The aroma magnifies as the wind blows through the giant poplars. These trees are planted to protect the land from strong winds that tumble down the mountain sides onto the property which was once a working Estancia. On 500 acres of protected natural habitat, Peuma Hue exonerates a balance in all things, including the relationship with the animals that roam the property. 

“I believe in things that last. You have to share what you love,” says Eve Hoter, owner of Peuma Hue, as she gazes out at the expanse of Gutiérrez Lake. Eighteen years ago, Eve, a Buenos Aires native, discovered this land in the Argentinean Lake District near San Carlos de Bariloche, where rosehips grew so tall she could only see the lake if she stood on the roof of her car. 

Breakfast is served in the main house where I am staying. I can smell fresh baked bread as I greet Manuela Luna who maintains the kitchen and serves us fresh eggs. The spread includes homemade local calafate and berry jams, croissants, fruit from the orchard, and steaming coffee. The staff prepares all the meals from scratch using locally sourced products and food grown on the farm. Their holistic approach for health starts here.

After breakfast I head to the stables to meet Jessie McNeil and Chris Barret, who take care of the horses. Their love and skill as natural horsewomen are evident. The Criollo, traditional Argentinean horses, are magnificent creatures known for their grand stature and endurance. They will take us for an unforgettable ride through open verdant fields and shaded groves to arrive at the lake.

The horses, like all of the animals at Peuma Hue, roam freely throughout the property. It is very clear they feel comfortable while interacting so naturally with the other species. You will witness horses stepping gingerly amongst the smallest of cats and birds. It’s a remarkable thing to observe. Resting in the sun, one guest was greeted by the gentle nudge of a four-week foul.

As we end our ride, we’re met with the smiling staff and a delicious glass of wine to accompany lunch – a rich salmon with caprice salad followed by dessert garnished with organic raspberries from the fields.

“This place, for me, is a way of life,” explains Luis Pennacca, who had left his high paying corporate job to work at the Estancia. 

“If I were to describe Peuma Hue in one word,” he says, “It would be authentic. Guests see the value in this, that the greatest luxury offered here is time, is an invitation to slow down and take in the essence of this place. Everyone that works here loves what we do, and, in turn, we love to offer an experience for guests who are tired of a classic five-star hotel to enjoy the finer things nature and slowing down offers. In this, the heart of this place beats to its own authentic rhythm.”

The following morning, I take my coffee down to the beach, being sure to scoop a teaspoon of dulce de leche, a popular Argentinean caramel spread, into my cup. As gentle ripples lap the edge, I hear a chorus of birds. I pass through the raspberry orchard on my return, sure to pick a few before heading to class.

Veronica Magnetto, our yoga teacher, greets me as the sun beams through the window and we unroll our mats. She invites us to move slowly through our asanas this morning, finding our breath, retreating into the sensations. The tight hips from long travel days and hiking, the sore shoulders from kayaking, the tenderness from horseback riding. We hold each pose mindfully, as she continues to instruct us on our alignment and encourages us to let our heart guide us.

As we descend into savasana I’m reminded of Eve’s words. “It’s about the essence of things. The idea is to approach healthy growth and well-being and invite guests to get in touch with their own goals.” 

Peuma Hue, whose name derives from the Mapuche - the indigenous inhabitants of Southwestern Argentina - offers a retreat, a luxurious and nature-infused home away from home with all of the comforts in a harmonious place. It invites its guests to relish in what brings them peace and makes them feel whole again. The Mapuche embodied these concepts in their language and way of life, connecting to the spiritual world through dreams where humans and animals coexist in the natural world. 

Rubin Reich, Eve’s partner, passes by after yoga class, warmly asking me how I am doing. An avid hiker and bird lover, he is checking in on me as he does all of the guests. Later, he and Eve greet their guests for hors d'oeuvres.

“One of my favorite things is witnessing the community connection that develops with our guests,” Eve says as she hands me some brie and roasted mushroom, as we sit fireside. “People meet and end up traveling together. We discover new connections.”

I nod in agreement. The transformation is evident as we now all sit at the big communal table, passing dishes and stories.

In the morning, I walk down to the tranquil lake one last time, sitting in meditation, and letting the cool water kiss my feet - these feet that are nearly healed from so much hiking and travel.

I recall Eve's words on how she's always strived for “balance in a context to inspire our guests to maintain this type of harmony for when they leave and return to their lives - so they are inspired to replicate it.”

Deeply inspired from this experience, I leave this place with a strong, able body and a full heart. Peuma Hue offers a place for wellness, adventure, and community. A place where we can live amongst nature and animals harmoniously. Where we are equals and are capable of taking this restorative time and can learn more about ourselves.

Luis’s last words echo in my ear. “Eve is a pioneer. She’s seen that happiness is not easy, but is a choice.”

Happiness is a choice, a quality of life, I reflect. Personally, I find myself often chasing happiness - sometimes anxiously and other times, with doubt - as if I am just on the periphery, but not quite there. Part of my own journey continues to be to design the life I want, to change my story and to move through life guided by my heart, as Eve has here. 

Thank you, Eve and the Peuma Hue Family. Your ability to create such an unbelievable experience for your guests is remarkable. I look forward to returning very soon with friends and family and offering opportunities for wellness workshops and retreats.

- Julia, Director of Outreach | Travel Writer | Yoga Teacher