Sunday, December 31, 2017

El Calafate, Argentina, December 31, 2017

I had another great sleep in a dorm!  There were only 3 of us so it was like our own hotel room.  The wind howled all night so I was glad I was where I was.  We have a short drive today - only 212 km.  Those of us sitting in the back have a pool going to guess what time we'll get there.  It passes the time-

The first part of today is along the route we took before so the view is the same but so beautiful it deserves more pictures-

We stopped at Hotel La Leona because it's where Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid and his wife Helen Page hid in 1905 for a few days after they robbed the Bank of London and Tarapaca in Rio Gallegos.  I had no idea Butch Cassidy was a real human.  I'm pretty sure I saw the movie but thought he was just a Hollywood creation-

In the late 1800s, a raft was built across La Leona River to allow settlers, their animals and merchandise to travel between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.  It was used until the bridge was built in 1974-

The lakes along the way are such a brilliant blue/green-

There will be a lake on one side of the road and nothing on the other.  Only 2 sheep are allowed/acre so that's a pretty good indication of the barrenness-

The Santa Cruz River-


Once in El Calafate and settled in our rooms, I explored the town which has a nice 5 blocks or so of commercialism and then at 9 most of us had a New Year's Eve supper.  Jono our driver, Nienke our tour director, Glynn from Toronto, Pauwell from Belgium, Kerry from the UK and Annette from Australia-

Norm and Richard both from the U.K.-

Richard, Saint Christine and me-

Bob and Linda from Toronto, Russ from San Francisco and Wiebke from Germany-

For supper we had a variety of empanadas, even some filled with guanaco, white wine, steak, ratatouille, grilled hash brown potatoes, a brownie with ice cream for dessert and then at midnight champagne.  It was an okay meal but it was more about being together.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

El Chalten, Argentina, December 30, 2017

This morning I woke up to sunshine and little wind so decided to do a hike, trek, walk - whatever you want to call it.  The Miriam Webster dictionary defines hike as "to travel by any means" and trek as "to make one's way arduously" and walk as " to go on foot for exercise or pleasure".  So, with all of that in mind, I went on a walk to see the peaks of Fitz Roy-

The views along the way-

These round green shrubs grow everywhere and are prickly to the touch so not edible for animals-

From the Mirador Del Fitz Roy which is 4 km from the gate-

There are rushing streams-

and a tent city 8 km from the gate-

where there is also a warning about the wind-

I kept walking until I reached this rocky river-

and decided not to cross the bridge.  I was pretty tired by this time and I didn't like the idea of walking through these big rocks.  I turned around at about 8.5 km-

There's also scrub brush along the way-

and this crazy Magellanic woodpecker who wasn't bothered by people talking.  I guess he was hungry-

The calafate boxed leaf barberry looks like a lady slipper but grows on a shrub-

The river meanders in the valley where the winds are very fierce-

I was exhausted by the time I got back to the truck: my knees, hips and right ankle were aching but I made it.  It was interesting as I walked along.  I went by myself because I didn't want to be a slow poke and make people wait.  I also enjoy the silence.  Any time someone came up behind me talking, I let them pass - the sooner the better.  The silence gives me time to commune with nature: feel the wind and the heat of the sun.  It's also a good time to think and talk to God and the Angels.  I've just finished a book called "You are a Badass" by Jen Sincero and it talks about many things such as we are our thoughts, and our thoughts were put into our heads when we were very little.  We can change the way we see the world by changing our thoughts.  We can have what we want if we truly go for it.  I like my life and there isn't anything I'd change but..... 

Anyway, I've always said that I don't like hiking but today was awesome.  It was a warm day, I had lots of time to think and I felt really happy.  Happy hiking?  What is going on?  I might just do some more walking this trip!  

On to El Calafate tomorrow, in a hostel for 3 nights!

Friday, December 29, 2017

El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina, December 29, 2017

It was another long drive -600 km so we left at 6 am.  Our group has been so good at respecting the times and being ready to go, usually early-

Driving through Patagonia is sooooo boring.  It's the same thing over and over: a whole lot of nothing-

and more nothing!!

Excellent pavement would all of a sudden be gravel and with the truck, the best we can manage is about 30 km/hour.  It takes forever.  There has been a lot of rain in a few areas.  The river was very  swollen.  Glad we weren't camping around here-

The men out for a pee-

Two guanaco caught in the act-

As we finally approached El Chelten, we could see a glacier and this lake with floating blue icebergs-

An armadillo crossed the road so we stopped for a look-

Beautiful mountains really carved close to El Chelten-

Another glacier-

I've upgraded again - it's about 9 degrees with a strong wind and a slight drizzle.  Good for me I say!  I'm planning on attempting the Fitz Roy hike in the morning, at least to stage 1 which is 2 hours one way but will allow me to see the peaks.


Nico ran into the Nichol family on the plane on the way to Mexico!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

El Bolsón to a bush camp, December 27- 28, 2017

I spent a quiet day at El Bolsón, however, I couldn't resist going for another steak!  This time, rather than just 2 of us, there were 10!  I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did!

I've seen something like this before-

Weibke and I bought our tickets for the Sambadrome Parade in Rio at the Carnival.  I hope it's as good as "they" say!

We had an early start today- 6 am, so that meant that I moved into a dorm last night.  It's easier crawling out of a bed rather than packing up a tent!  I had a terrible sleep, in fact it felt like I didn't sleep at all.  5 am couldn't come soon enough!

In the dark and in my sleep walking after breakfast, I think I forgot my coffee pot at the campsite!   Not the end of the world but it will change my mornings!

We have over 1000 km to drive in 2 days as we head further south into Patagonia-

Along the way there were mountains-

But mainly miles and miles and miles of nothing-

Towns are few and far between-like an hour and a half apart.  Lots of the land is fenced but I only saw a few sheep.  There Isn't any grass so can't imagine their meat tastes that good.

The wind is howling - I'd guess it's 90 km/hour +.  Not sure how we're going to set up our tents or even keep the burners on for cooking.  I'm glad I only have 7 nights of this!

Truck life can get pretty boring.  Sippy cups seem to be the answer at the back when it gets bumpy.  Richard and I are enjoying some rum-

Tonight is a bush camp and I'm on cook group.  We're having Milanese which is breaded mystery meat, with omelet and carrot sticks.  
The wind kept howling as we pulled into Perito Morano for diesel.  After, we drove around looking for a place to camp, or so I thought.  We ended up at a campground and Ninke upgraded us to cabins because it was nearly impossible to set up a tent.  We also were able to cook in their campground kitchen so the whole evening was great.  The Milanese was a hit - so funny.  We had to fry it in a lot of oil and it's only about 1cm thick.  It's like fast food but I think we'll serve it again!  As I'm going to bed, the wind is still howling.  It reminds me of home!

Not looking forward to 550 km tomorrow!

P.S.  Merry Christmas!

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