Sunday, April 29, 2007

A chill day

Today, we just hung around Puerto Natales. Claire and AJ are watching What the Bleep do we know downstairs. We've got to catch a bus to the Punta Arenas airport at 5 so we can stay up till 3am at the airport. Thats not going to be so much fun.... but that's what you have to do to get a cheap flight. The town was really neat to see on Sunday - it's totally closed save restaurants.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Leaving Torres del Paine

Today, we got up after a cold night of rain and hiked a bit along the trail to the East, towards the center of the park. We got a late start, but it was cruisy, and a very clear day. The glacial lake was a ridiculous blue. Claire got grossed out by mud.... The boat ride back to the docks had neat views of the Torres. On the drive back we got nice views of the park from the South. The range really is huge.... it stands out a lot. We're on a bus to Punta Arenas tomorrow to sit at the airport till 6am when we fly back to Santiago. I can't imagine that's going to be too much fun.... Hopefully I'll get some good shots out the window. Oh, and the site wanted $660 for a ticket, whereas sold it for $160. Learn spanish, get a giant discount. Go figure.

Torres del Paine from the South

Driving along the southern front......

Giant lenticulars at night. The clouds were crazy.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Torres del Paine

Today we got up early and took the bus to Torres del Paine, a giant national park to the north of Puerto Natales. The hostel owner, Bill, cooks a pretty neat breakfast and had some neat stories about the local goings-on. This place is a tiny, sleepy town of 20000, and he's one of the few gringos here.

The drive there was really scenic, with a fiery-red sunrise. A bunch of the people on the ferry with us were there. I had a good talk with Hector, the mexican Londonite chef, about different indegenous populations. Neat to hear it from him.

We got to the refugio in the park after a long bumpy boat ride across a giant lake. The wind was crazy, and there were giant lenticulars everywhere. The refugio was more like a hotel, and we were camping outside of it....

We set up camp and hiked along the western side of the park to a glacier meeting a lake. There were tons of icebergs in the southern part with a crazy blue-green color. There were tons of yellow and red trees along the way too. I've been traveling so much that I don't really know what season it's supposed to be, but somehow autumn felt comfortable. Rumor has it, it's spring where I used to live.

An iceberg in Lago Grey. They have a crazy blue color....
Crazy lenticulars over the lake. I hope the timelapses come out.....
The reds and yellows of autumn.......
Glacier Grey from an overlook on the trail
A view toward the park from the south west, near the entrance.

Icebergs in Lago Grey from the Grey Glacier
A stream on the way out of Paine Grande

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Puerto Natales

We woke up close to Puerto Natales, near -50 South. There was this really cool "bird island" out in the water. We also got to watch the mountains dive into the ocean. The Andes had ended.... The view off the bridge as we were coming in to port were totally awesome as well. I spent a lot of time up on the observation deck just watching the land go by.

We all sat around for an hour waiting to disembark the Navimag, and then spent the afternoon walking around town, eating lunch during siesta when everything is closed, finding a hostel, and getting set to go to the giant park, Torres del Paine early in the morning. We stayed at the erratic rock. It's a totally awesome place run by an expat. Aparently everybody passing through this town is here to go to the park. It's expensive - $30 to enter, $20 for a bus, $20 for the boat in the park - but the views are spectacular.

Puerto Natales is a tiny sleepy town which seems to feed off the tourism. There were about 15 people handing out flyers for the various hostels waiting outside the Navimag....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Puerto Eden

After the night of 15 foot swell, we had a really great, calm day that made up for most of the grey rainy nastiness of the last few. There were tons of sea otters, hardly any wind, and a stop off at Puerto Eden - a tiny town of a few hundred in the middle of Patagonia. The day was really pleasant.

I played giant-chess up on the observation deck and got to talk with some really interesting people. I ended up in a tie-for-first in a "pickup the paper" game, which was fun. Lots of people thought I would be sore the next day.....

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Puking in The Gulf of Sorrow

The day was fairly grey and rainy, but it made for an impressionistic day in the lounge. I read this relativity book I borrowed from AJ. There was a ship from Switzerland and another one from Germany that were on their way around the world..... I met a few of the people we were travling with and managed to talk about Mexican politics, Brazilian flavelas, and astronomy. The swell picked up to 15 feet around dinner. AJ spent several hours puking in the bathrooms. I was a tiny bit luckier - I forced myself to puke over the railing a couple of times and then passed out. All together it was a nice day of conversation and reading, followed by stomach pain. The whole time with nice views. A weird mix.....

Monday, April 23, 2007

Puerto Montt

We got up and took the bus south to Puerto Montt. We are taking the Navimag ferry south to Puerto Natales, in the southern Patagonia. It's 3 days on a freighter, should be fun. Puerto Montt is a dump of a town. Smells like diesel fumes. The markets were interesting. Somewhat weird. There's a ton of stray dogs down here and there's dog shit everywhere. They run in packs and bark at each other all the time. The dog fights are a little cool. Aparently, books are ridiculously expensive and Claire says they're taxed. We did go to a mall and managed to find a book store, maybe the only one in the city, but they didn't have maps of anything. Oh well. It was neat to see this port town anyways.

The Navimag was cool. Much more like a freigher than a cruise liner. We played cards till sunset, then Claire went to sleep and took AJ with her.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Puerto Varras

After leaving Pucon, I met up with Claire and AJ in Puerto Varras, a 5 hr bus-ride south. It was a cool little town (20K) south, just near the northern Patagonia port. All we did was drink wine and pass out. It was midnight, and Claire loves to sleep....

We woke up and walked around the town after a hearty breakfast of eggs and Ades. Claire loves the stuff. Aparently, it's more like a laxitive for her... But she likes it anyways.

We took a bus to Frutiar, a tiny town just north of Puerto Varras. It was tiny and very quiet. The neaby volcano came out in mid afternoon as we were having a cappuccino in the waterfront cafe. Neat little stopoff....

The laxitive and some OJ. It's really just soy-something with fruit juice, quite tasty.

Volcano! There were earthquakes and a tsuami a bit south of us. I'm annoyed that I missed it...
Puerto Varras waterfront. Lots of Germans down here, but nothing more than bratwurst ala pobre was on the menu's we saw. Meat with egg. Maybe fried. And some fried potatoes and salt.......
Claire goes to sleep whenever she can. It's really funny. I'm jealous in some strange way. She drinks a glass of wine and falls asleep. She takes a bus and falls asleep. I would probably be a much healthier person if I could sleep like she does.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Killing a few hours

I've got a few hours to kill in Pucon before heading off to Puerto Varas. Today has been a day of mass confusion, walking, and internet. Note to self - when arranging meetings in foreign countries, get details sorted out before hand....

AJ is supposed to meet us in Puerto Varas sometime at some unspecified place. We have the cell phone so we can´t call him, but he didnt call us either. He was in a panic cause he can´t find his passport..... Yes, panic is the right word..... Claire didn´t know if AJ was on a bus south last night or this morning so we had planned to get there mid day today. She had bought bus tickets to Puerto Varas for us for this morning, but we couldn´t return the rental car till 10am and we were stuck splitting up. The bus schedule was 8am, 4pm, so we couldn´t just eat a few hours, it had to be the day. Go figure. So, Claire is on her way to Puerto Varas to hopefully find AJ and get themselves sorted out before I get there later today.

Nothing opens here before 9:30am, except busses, so I´ll be filling in the last couple days on the blog..... I did get to go for an early morning drive though. Good views of the bridge to Quelhue and the volcanoes over near Argentina.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Beautiful Car Day

The weather was beautiful today. The hostel we´re in is full of Israelis. Tons of them. Signs in Hebrew..... They´re loud in the mornings. Anyways, we woke up early with them and left... The busses to the parks leave town at 6:30am and 2pm. We didn´t get up till 8. So, we hired a car ($50). It was a great day for a drive. The parks were totally empty. We drove north to Caburga, Lago Tinquilco, and then took a drive up to the ski resort on the volcano (Villarrica). The Conaf guy at the volcano park entrance was a little strange. He said there might be snow. I said, "ok, cold ok" and then he thought we needed to see a map of chile. And his personal pictures on the nearby computer, like we didn´t know what a volcano was.... or snow for that matter...... Anyways, Clarie thought I was funny for eating cheeze without putting it on something. And then made a comment about how I probably eat it with meat using a swiss-army knife. I do.....

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Gallop

We had the car from last night for the first few hours of the morning and we took a drive towards Quelhue. The road was blocked by a river (wet few days) so we just enjoyed the scenery. Stopping by the supermarket, to try to emulate Liz, we decided to expolre the store as completely as we could. We found out that salad dressing and pasta sauce are non existant in this country. I´ve been to several stores now and they only have plain, sugar-loaded tomato-sauce in a tin can. She did try to ask for "italian lettuce sauce" and got some funny looks. Oh, and nothing asian, at all, period. Except shoyu (soy sauce). I have to agree with Sean, the food is pretty bland and unspectacular. Liz would complain loudly. Claire calls most cheeze "government cheeze". It all tastes the same. I don´t exaclty know why that´s government, but both are a bit unpleasant. Maybe that´s it....

Anyways, we decided to go ride horses. It was awesome. I got to gallop a number of times and take tons of cool pictures. Very awesome. 4 hours on a horse is enough to make your legs feel weird, but you cover a lot of ground. There were a ton of berries on the bushes and aparently they make liquor out of rosa masquete...... My horse was an agressive bitch. She would try to bite the other horses if they got close. If we were galloping and another tried to pass her, she´d cut them off. I had really good yank-reaction time by the end of that ride. At least the agressive ones run fast......

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Steamed Waterfalls

Today was wet. And cold. Very wet and cold. We arrived in Pucon at about 9am after an overnight bus ride from Santiago. I had slept enough, Claire was asleep for about 12 hours. (ok, more like 8.5). We got a car and went to the waterfalls & thermal baths. The waterfalls were raging. We went to Saltos La China and Leon. There was a very fragrant tree, Tepe, that made the forrest smell just awesome. The rain wasn´t so bad because we were wearing every single piece of clothing we have. It´s amazing how empty our backpacks are....
We decided to go to the "thermal baths" at Termas Menetue. They were more like hot pools in a resort, but it was fun anyways. It was totally empty and we had 4 giant pools of different temperature to split between about 10 people. Everyone left by 7pm so we had the run of the place. It was nice to just cook in warm water for an evening. I felt so sleepy. But, I think Claire takes sleepy to a new level. She´ll sleep through anything, and fall asleep wherever if you give her more than half a glass of wine.

It was a really nice day. We got a "double" in an older hostel here. It´s a little strange in that there´s no heat or insulation, and the kitchen is effectively outside. It´s upstairs, under a roof, but there´s no doors or screens. Very open. In the summer it has to be awesome, but in the winter, it´s un poco frio......