Ice, Wind and Victory in Argentine Patagonia

Trip Start Dec 01, 2008
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Trip End Apr 20, 2009


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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Itīs a rare thing for me to feel homesick when I travel, but that is exactly how I felt last Sunday...

I had done a little research on the internet and locally and was delighted to have located a bar here in the arse-end of Patagonia, that had the sports cable channel ESPN and which would be broadcasting the final game of the Six Nations.  The anticipation was all the greater, having missed two years of games, due to being in obscure locations, and, of course, because Ireland have had such a  good season and the Grand Slam was at stake (I may have missed all the games, but my sources have kept me informed!)  And it was, indeed, great to be able to see the game... but sitting in a tame wee bar, with a handful of other foreigners and disinterested locals, with zero atmosphere, and trying to make out the unfolding events on a tiny tv screen with a low-volume commentary in Spanish... well, it really didn't cut it.  And then the total lack of reaction and wild celebrations when we won our first Grand Slam in 60 odd years... I just wanted to be back home where the party was! 


Still, at least I got to see it.  And I had the company of Kets, Liz and Michelle, to cheer on the boys in green, which was a bonus. Having all disembarked from the MV Ushuaia, the four of us had ended up on the same 5 a.m. bus out of town the next day, for the 20 hour ride to El Calafate.  (I am relieved to report that that was my last long bus journey on this trip!)  El Calafate only exists as a service town for trips to Perito Moreno Glacier, 80km away, and that was our destination. 


Wouldn't you think that, after a couple of weeks in Chilean Patagonia and then Antarctica, more ice would just be a bore?  Not so!  We hired a taxi to take us out there early in the morning, partly to beat the tour-bus crowds, and partly to get there before the park office opens to avoid the too-pricey entry fee.  And so we had that gorgeous effect of the ever-changing Patagonian sky behind the glacier; while the colours of the ice moved from dull to dazzling as the sun came and went; and harsh white to iridescent blue from the peaks to the deep cracks.  But what makes Perito Moreno special is that, at regular intervals, pieces of ice calve from the body of the glacier with a sudden splintering sound followed by a thundering roar:  we heard several in our three-hour stint and we saw a few too.  Sometimes they were smaller pieces rolling down the ice walls but a couple of them were fairly hefty chunks, creating clouds of snow and ice around them and causing waves and huge ripples as they crashed into the water below.  Very impressive indeed.

From El Calafate, we moved on to El Chalten, 'trekking capital of Argentina', and a spot where I had great intentions to do a few good hikes... but the last few weeks have taken it out of me, and I just couldn't bear to do battle with the vicious Patagonian wind for hours at a time, hiking up the nearby trails to lakes and mountains.  I chose, instead, to enjoy the view from the warmth of my hostel, to lie in bed and read, and to enjoy meals and wine with my temporary travel-mates, along with visits to the village's micro-brewery.  I felt guilty about not being 'out there' but I have had it with the wind... I'm starting to get that siege mentality I get in the Sligo winter!

Next stop = warm sunshine and no wind!
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Comments

s.colloby
s.colloby on

What rugby?
Has there been some rugby on??? ..... must have missed it!

In fairness, it was a cracking game, and dare i say it... the best team won!

But in the grander scheme of things, it pales into insignificance in comparison to your recent adventures! Jealous as anything, and looking forward to seeing you when you're back!

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