Good lord, the Patagonias are windy… I hope my tent doesn´t blow away (Day 466)

This is what I was thinking the othery day… while I was in my tent!  Sometimes you are warned ahead of time about things, but you still underestimate them somehow.  For me, the force of the wind in the Patagonias is one of those times.

Long time no chat.  What´s new?  I hope NYE was a blast for you.  My hostel organized a potluck dinner, which was a gastronomical wonder.  Can you imagine the food that gets prepared when you do a potluck with 40 people from all over the world?  Very memorable.  Welcome to 2010.

I raised my glass to you at 11.30pm Eastern Standard Time.  I heard that many of you joined me.  I think that rocks, gracias!  I made a lame video and was giving serious consideration to never letting it see the light of day, but I think I promised it to you.  I try to keep my promises, whenever convenient.  So, this one is for you:

What´s with all my facial expressions?  Why does it look like I´m in pain while talking?   What´s wrong with me?

Like many of you, I am a fan of the World Junior Hockey Championship.  This year´s edition of this tourney was just played.  Canada was trying to win its 6th straight gold medal, but lost in the final.  Shit!  I badly wanted to watch the game, but it seems that TSN is not broadcasted in 3rd-world countries.  Shocking.  I tried to watch the game live on, but they won´t stream to computers outside of Canada!  This makes no sense to me, as people in Canada can just watch it on TV.  It is us guys OUTSIDE of Canada that need the live stream on  They´ve got it all backwards.

But, with the help of my parents, good people that they are, I was able to watch.  This solution was engineered by my Dad.  I skype´d my parents on their laptop, then my Dad put the lap top in front of the TV and cranked the volume. So, I sat in an internet cafe in Argentina and watched my parent´s TV through skype.  Voila!  Ain’t technology grand?  (Btw, at the moment this photo was taken, I’m the phone with my grandparents and brother, hence the muted TV and phone beside the laptop.)

Lately I have been doing a lot trekking and sleeping in my tent.  I did a 3-day trek in the Lakes District of Argentina the other day in beautiful weather.  Here are few pics from that one, for your visual enjoyment:

Rock spires and alpine lakes

Camp 2 was down beside this lake

Check out the hanging glacier

The designer of this trail decided to put the crossing of this speedy, freezing-cold river right above a bunch of large waterfalls.  Not sure if you can tell from the photo, but if you fall crossing the river, you will continue to do so for quite a while, whoa!  I did appreciate the rope, though.  It was very convenient and probably reduces the death toll.

Argentina is home to the famous (infamous?) Route 40, a rough, remote, desolate, 4900km stretch of road that runs the length of the country, parallel the Andes.  It is so well-known as an “adventure road” that it even has it´s own website.  I heard that if you come across a stopped vehicle, it is the law that you MUST stop to ask if they need assistance.  If you don´t, the passengers of that car may not see anybody else for days and they might not make it back to civilization.  Yikes.  The wind is so severe on this road it can blow over vehicles!  For a good time, I did a 33-hour bus ride down Route 40.  (After 15 months of travel, your sense of fun can get a little twisted.)  Whenever we stopped, I felt the bus sway in wind.  Scary.  I don´t think huge buses are supposed to sway like that.

The Argentina Tourism Department has somehow managed to spin this slow, nasty, horrible road into tourist attraction!  They got me — I traveled the road.  And bought the t-shirt.  These guys are marketing geniuses.

This is what the Route 40 looks like…

… and this is what it looks like with my broken-down bus on it

These days there are very, very few glaciers on the planet that are not retreating.  Perito Moreno in the Patagonias is one of them.  In fact, it´s growing!  This colossal glacier is 30km long, 5km wide, and towers 74m above the lake into which it feeds.  Mammoth.  I have seen it with my own eyes.  It looks a little something like this:

If you squint, you can see a 2-storey tourist boat about half way down, being dwarfed by the glacier

In other news, I had another asado (Argentinian BBQ) the other day.  Damn it was good.  You should come down to Argentina for one.  An asado alone would justify the cost of the flight.  If you love steak and have some spare time, you really should read this article about a guy who travels around Argentina in search of the finest cut of meat.  The magazine instructed the author:  “Go to Argentina and find the best steak on earth.”  How do I get THAT guy´s job?!?

I am now in Puerto Natales, Chile, to walk one of the most classic treks on the continent:  The Torres del Paine Circuit.  I have bought extra tent pegs to try to keep the wind from blowing my tent into the stratosphere.  If anybody would like to come down and carry my ridiculously-heavy pack for this 8-day trek, I would appreciate it.  Drop me a mail.  Thanks.

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