Day 127: December 19, 2007 RG to El Calafate
Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
202Trip End Mar 01, 2008
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After eating breakfast at the hotel and loading up the car, we headed out of town toward El Calafate. We made a stop at the airport to see if Will's bags had arrived; there seemed to be some confusion as to where they actually were. The people at the desk assured us that if they came in on the evening flight that they would send them up to the bus terminal in El Calafate. Not feeling really comfortable with this but needing to get to the field, we headed up the highway, looking at the cliffs on the north side of the Río Gallegos looking for a place that we could access for work when we return here.
With Will at the wheel, we drove in a strong headwind the whole way to El Calafate. I never realized that the road crossed an old rift cone chain before but it clearly does. The rain diminished as we drove across the pampas but the wind pelted the guanacos, rheas, and sheep we passed along the way. By the time we got to the Río Santa Cruz overlook, the sky was crystal clear. We had a marvelous view of Cerro FitzRoy and could even distinguish Monte Torre.
Once we got to El Calafate, it took us a few minutes to find a campground. We stayed at the Niriguao, just a couple of blocks off of the main road for 10 pesos/person/night. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and bought food for the next day. We found a place that rented camping equipment and rented a sleeping bag for Will for 2 nights at 20 pesos/night. Against my better judgment, we stopped by the National Park office to let them know what we wanted to do and to see if we could get around paying $10/person each time we entered the park. The rangers had already finished work so we were told to return in the morning. We also found out that the area around the Río Mitre, in the center of the Magallanes Peninsula is in a provincial park. They gave us the address and told us to go there in the morning as well.
It was already midafternoon so we decided not to go to the park but went to an overpriced internet place with an enormously slow connection. I spent 10 pesos and accomplished nothing. While we were there, Will ran into Mel, a New Zealander, and Michelle, a Swiss, who had also lost their bags. Mel was quite stressed about it and spent most of his time trying to locate their whereabouts. Will and Michelle were remarkably laid back about it.
The five of us walked a few blocks down to a restaurant and drank a few beers. We were all hungry so Will, Megan, and I ordered cheeseburgers. When they came out they were gigantic, about the size of my head. Megan took a picture of me biting into mine for scale.
We stayed and talked until after 10:00 and then drove the five blocks back to the campground. We discovered that the campground is below an all night disco that blares techno-cumba music until the wee hours. That didn't phase me too much. I fell asleep immediately.