The End Of The World (As We Know It)

1 02 2007

We left Punta Arenas at 5am last night and got to Ushuaia – the Southernmost city in the world – at around 7pm.

FOREWORD (WHAT HAPPENED NEXT)

In the morning, WAMM drove us to the airport where we had a long and tearful (yeah, right!) good bye with the group.

They left and we went into the terminal where we were informed that our flight was delayed. Evidently, they later told us that most 2pm flights in Ushuaia get delayed – god only knows why.

So, we had about 4 extra hours to kill. It was a bit problematic since we had a connecting flight in Buenos Aires at 9pm and this didn’t really leave us with a lot of time to transfer. But, as we were warned, time moves differently in South America.

We headed into town where, of course, we ran into everybody. They were quite a bit surprised to see us, truth to be told.

We just spent a few hours walking around, picking up souvenirs, and getting some food. Then we said good bye to everybody yet again and headed to the airport.

After another hour and a half delay, we finally left. We landed to Buenos Aires about 10 minutes before our flight to JFK was supposed to leave. Leaving Alex at the baggage claim, I ran (as the wind) to the American Airlines counter prepared to ask them to hold the plane.  There, I was informed that the plane is about to leave and there is nothing they can do about it.

They did agree to put as on a different flight, but by the time we were deciding, the seats dissappeared. Finally, after extensive search, they found a standby flight to NY through Miami that was leaving in an hour. Taking our chances, we paid the extra $150 “change fee” and ran to the terminal.

Fortunately, we got the seats and 12 hours later, we were in New York – just 3 hours later than originally expected.

So, there you go, fellow readers. That concludes the South America – Patagonia Express Trip 2007.

100.jpg





Closing Up Shop

30 01 2007

So, last night, me and Alex came back from the Internet cafe at around 1am in the morning. The rest of the people went into a bar, but we decided to take it easy, so we didn’t join them.

Earlier that day, we had to select one of the two options for the next 2 days. Either to drive today to Punta Arenas for 15 hours to see a Penguin colony and then drive for another 15 hours tomorrow to get to Ushuaia or drive directly to Ushuaia, get there a bit early and spend some time there before we leave. Unfortunately, the decision was made to go to Punta Arenas.

The problem with that is that it’s cutting really close to our arrival to Ushuaia and limits the amount of time that we spend there. In fact, we will be arriving there late tomorrow night, camping, and then in the morning, the truck will probably drive us to the airport.

Anyways, we got up today at around 4am and spend the bulk of the day on the truck. The Penguin Colony that we were expecting to see actually left a bit early for the season, so there were very few of them left. But they were still adorable.

98.jpg

99.jpg

We spent about an hour there and then headed to the hostel.

The hostel is actually quite interesting. It’s run by an ex Opera singer from Croatia and just seems to be a converted house. It’s pretty cozy, though, so we are enjoying it. We came out to see the city for a few hours, but it seems to be a pretty shady place. Plus, in this area, the wind gets so strong, that you have trouble walking against it. Many of the trees here are actually bent from being under a wind current all the time.

97.jpg
* that’s Des from our group holding up the power cables so that WAMM could pass

Tomorrow morning, we got a long journey to Ushuaia. We are getting up at 5.45 to catch a ferry that will take us through a part of the way. Depending on how much road we cover, we may spend the nigh camping in the middle of nowhere and catching the flight in the morning. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post again before I come back, so I’ll see you all at home.

Thanks for reading!





What It´s Like to Be Inside the Ice Cream Cone – Perito Moreno Glacier

29 01 2007

Today was the day of our glacier hike. We (me and Alex) were the only people from our group that decided to go on it, since everybody else either already did it in the past or opted out for just a little boat cruise around the glacier.

We got picked up directly from our hostel on a really awesome bus. For some reason, the buses in South America are light years beyond the coaches in South America. Many of them are actually 2 floors, but they only have 3 seats per aisle, so you have a lot more space for yourself. Plus, the seat reclines back completely, so you can sleep on it quite comfortably. Moreover, on many of the bus rides, you even have a waitress serving food every 3 hours. Of course, our bus wasn´t as fancy as that, but still quite comfortable.

We picked up some more people and headed to the Moreno Glacier. The Perito Moreno Glacier is a glacier located in the Los Glaciares National Park in the south west of Santa Cruz province, Argentina.

It´s about 5 km wide, with an average height of 60 meters above the surface of the water, with a total ice depth of 170 meters. It advances at a speed of up to 2 m per day, although it loses mass at approximately the same rate, meaning that aside from small variations, its has not advanced or receded in the past 90 years.

852.jpg

89.jpg

We reached the park about 2 hours later and were given a bit of time to go on several observation points from which we could check out that massive ice cube.

86.jpg

One of the coolest parts was watching giant chunks of ice just falling down from the top, making a huge water splash and producing a hell lot of noise. In fact, a little bit later, we also saw a chunk of ice that actually broke off from underneath the water level and came up – kind of like a submarine.

Anyways, a little bit later, we got on a boat that took us closer to the actual glacier.

87.jpg

94.jpg

When we got off on the ground, we were divided up into groups. We got to go with an English group where we had 2 guides and about 15 people.

The guide told us a little bit about the glacier and gave us the crampons which went on top of our boots.

90.jpg

Since the actual surface of the glacier is solid ice, they were necessary for walking on top of it. We began our hike on the glacier, which was quite an interesting experience. Going on a flat surface was quite easy, but going up and down proved to be more of a challenge. Since the actual surface of the glacier wasn´t flat but rather was composed of crevaces and hills, most of the walking involved either uphill or downhill movement.

To go down, for example, you had to assume the monkey pose, where you would put out your feet in the front, lean backwards, and make small steps downwards.

We got to spend about 2 hours on the actual glacier. It literally felt like we were inside of a giant ice cream cone.

91.jpg

96.jpg

92.jpg

The pictures will show it in more detail later, but it was definitely a great experience. Atthe end of the hike, we went into this little secluded place where the guides kept a bar and treated us to whisky and chocolates. It´s actually quite great since after many of our previous activities (e.g. hydrospeeding), we were always treated to booze and snacks at the end.

93.jpg

We got back at around 7pm, so we just had a little bit of time before we met up with our group at an all-you-can eat meat buffet. You just can´t be a vegetarian in this country – it simply won´t work.

95.jpg

We stuffed our faces and are now getting ready to head back to the hostel since we´re leaving tomorrow at 5am to go to Punta Arenas – our last stop before Ushuaia.

We got 2 days of about 15 hours of driving each, so it should be pretty tough. I´ll try to post again before my flight back.





El Calafate (or Don´t Give Alex Anything with 4 Wheels or Legs)

28 01 2007

Today, we began to make our way into El Calafate – a small Argentinian town from which we´ll begin our glacier hike tomorrow. On the Argentinian border, we managed to hit a car that parked behing our truck. Our driver didn´t see him in the mirrors, so he kind of bumped it when we were backing out. Fortunately, that was resolved within an hour or so.

80.jpg

The truck also broke down a bit in the desert. Our accellerator cable fell of, but it wasn´t anything a bit of rubber couldn´t fix.

When we got into town, we settled in a hostel (finally!) and went out to explore the city.

First thing we saw were ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles). Within 30 minutes, me, Alex and our guide were on the vehicles making our way out of the city.

We spent about an hour and a half riding in the sand dunes and off-the-road. It was a bit difficult to operate at first, as the ATVs were manual, so we had to get used to switching speeds on the go.

It was a lot of fun. There were some pretty steep hills, so it was always a challenge to see if the ATV will be able to make it up (or down). Alex managed to fall off once after hitting a shrub, but fortunately he landed on a prickly bush which softened it. So aside from taking out needs out of his a*s for the next hour, it was all good.

81.jpg

82.jpg

Towards the end, our guide took us to a local airport, so we were able to put the ATVs to the speed test on really smooth flat surface.

Anyways, the Internet place is closing down really soon, so there is no chance to upload the pictures, but I´´ll try to do it soon.

Tomorrow, we got a full day glacier hike – from 8am to 6pm, so I´ll try to post an update about that tomorrow night too.





Puma Central

27 01 2007

In the morning, our driver offered to give us a lift to the nearest town to use the Internet. He also said that there are a few hiking trails that go from there, so we´d be able to hike back to the campsite within 2 hours.

The town, unfortunately, turned out to be a few strange buildings in the middle of the park. The ´Internet´was actually only available in the reception of the local hostel. The guy let us use it for an hour, which was funny because we were confused with the employees of the hostel by the visitors.

About an hour later, when everybody already left, me and Alex decided to head back.

The road back was actually more than 2 hours, but we figured we had plenty of time. We were walking on the dirt road for about 20 minutes, but then got a little bit bred, so we decided to go off-the road and climb the nearest mountain. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but about halfway into that, we realized that even if the way up was feasible, the way down would be a whole other ´pickle´.

So, we came down and continued. On the way, we did another small hike and eventually just hitched a ride back to the hotel. The driver that picked us up was curious as to why we were walking on the road. When asked why, he said that there were a lot of pumas in the area. When we got back to the campsite and broke this news to our driver, Dan, he didn´t seem surprised. In fact, he also mentioned that there were a lot of landmines left on the land, as there were a few military conflicts that took place in this area. I kind of wish we knew that before we started climbing random mountains.

Later in the day, we did another hike – awesome pictures are coming up later – and then called it a night at about 11.

77.jpg

78.jpg

79.jpg








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.