To avoid falling too far behind in my blogging duties, I am going to put this up before my Patagonia trip is over. My friend, Nathan, and I set off from Buenos Aires on Tuesday afternoon. We had decided to fly down to El Calafate to visit the glaciers and then take buses up to where we hoped to find whales and penguins (I have now been informed that there will be no penguins. Too bad!) El Calafate is a small town, no street lights and one grocery store, but it is filled with hostels and tour guides that will take you to the glaciers.
We set off with a tour company to the glaciers the next day and since it was so early, we got to see the sun rise over the mountains and lakes that surrounded us. It was quite spectacular and I will post pictures very soon. The glacier I was going to see is called Perrito Moreno, in honor of the guy who “discovered” it. It is 60 meters high and more than 30 kilometers long. This glacier is considered stable because it is building up new ice at the same rate that it loses ice. First, we took a boat ride so that you could come very close to the glacier. It was an iridescent blue color and the cracks created formations that were absolutely beautiful. We were impressed with that and then we were taken up to the balconies where you can see the majority of the glacier and how far it stretches up into the mountain range. It was not super cold and from up there, you could hear the ice “calving” and breaking off into pieces. It was almost like hearing thunder and the acoustics were impressive.
After sitting on the balconies and taking pictures of every view that we could, Nathan and I decided to sneak off the path and go down to where we could actually touch the edge of the ice. We scurried down, assuming that we weren’t supposed to be doing it, but doing it anyway since we hadn’t seen any signs. We walked past the red rocks that surround the area and approached the edge. Up close, the blue of the ice is stunning and when you press your hand against the ice, you can feel the power it contains from being attached to the rest of the glacier. It was surreal to be so close. I licked the ice and it tasted a little rocky, but also pretty delicious since you knew it was such an impressive feat to be so close. As we were preparing to make our way back up to the tourist section, we heard a voice yelling to us to get “afuera”. We had been caught! The park ranger obviously chastised us for going off the path and then made me delete all my pictures!! This was in return for not fining us and confiscating the camera, so I guess I came out a winner, but it was painful to delete the pictures. He did it because then all of you would have seen the pictures, been jealous, decided to come down here and then it would have been out of control. So, while I understand his reasoning, it hurt. It took awhile for me to get over it, but I am doing better now.
So, that was my glacier story.
Today we took a 3 hour bus trip to El Chaltèn, a one street town that sits at the base o the Fi9tz Roy mountain range. The Cerro Fitz Roy is 3441 meters high and is a steep rock formation. We hiked for 2 hours up to a lake where you can see the mountains and imagine what it would be like to scale Fitz Roy. We were lucky enough to get a nice day where the sun shone on us, the sky was clear enough to see the rocks and the wind was not too strong. Sitting up there, I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to go on these trips. I imagined being an explorer back in the day and what it must have taken to set off without knowing what you would find. It was wonderful to do some hiking and run through the forests with trees that look pre-historic with their spindly, grey arms. After some warm, pumpkin soup at the local restaurant, we headed back to El Calefate and now I am waiting to catch a 3am bus to Puerto Madryn to visit the dolphins. It has truly been an amazing trip already, and I am not even half-way through. I have less than 3 weeks left in Argentina and it is crazy to think that my reality will once again change so drastically. This has been such a full experience.
Next time I will post up pictures of the journey and share some thoughts about my most meaningful days at work. And now, off to the bus!