25 March 2010

Patagonia is Cold

It has been awhile since the last post, mainly due to the fact that I have kept so busy. I have been to two Parque Nacionales, experienced a 25+ hour bus ride, trekked for four days, and lost my debit card to a cajero automatico.

After crossing the Argentine border, I got my first of the two PN with Parque Nacional Los Alerces. It is a beautiful park in Northern Patagonia with several lakes and the South American equivalent of the Sequoias we have in California. After a glassy boat ride between peaks and glaciers, we got to the old forest with our guide. He spoke only in Spanish, but my abilities have progressed so that I could at least understand what plant or animal he was talking about, and sometimes what was interesting about it. Boat ride back, and a bus ride back to town ended a long day the night before an even longer bus ride.

25 hours is a long time on a bus, but I got through it with the help of lots of food and surprisingly good movies (personal favorite was a ripped copy of Sherlock Holmes). I arrived in Esquel, leaving myself only enough time to let an automatico eat my card before traveling back in to Chile to prepare for a trek in Torres del Paine. I made this trek with Ben Birnbaum, a friend of a friend from the Melville, and our base camp was Puerto Natales, where we enjoyed a night of partying with some locals met through Couchsurfing before taking off into the Parque.

The Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is arguably the Yosemite of South America. It has incredible views, challenging and rewarding hikes, and lots of people. We completed the "W" a hike which doubles back on itself three separate times, forming the shape of a "W" on the terrain. We took our time, completing the entire trek in four nights, and ended with a spectacular sunrise giving amazing color to the Torres. Some happenings of note include several moustaches meeting up, Ben's backpack being chewed into by mice, possibly a dead man in the drinking water, and amazing dinners (salmon with rice, pasta with red sauce and hot dogs, ravioli soup, and macaroni with three types of meet).

Returning to the "real" world, we enjoyed some amazing lamb and chicken barbecue that was near impossible to find. We took the weekend to recover, with laundry and personal cleansings. A second night of partying with the Couchsurfers saw us getting VIP access to a club opening. We shared the night with only locals as we danced and stared from our lounge on the second floor. The next day, I said my goodbye to Ben and got on a bus to Punta Arenas, where I am now.

Somethings Interesting:

--Patagonia is Freezing cold.

--While the continent is large, all travelers are heading in the same direction, going to the same attractions. I run into friends previous all the time.

--Penguins are too expensive to see, sometimes costing $70. Hopefully I can get some cheaper up north.

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