Bulletins From BA #13
30 marzo 2013
¡Hola! there… Rodger French here.
Photo Update Alert: www.picasaweb.google.com/rodger.french
“El Calafate” "Helsingfors” “Lago Argentino” ”Perito Moreno”
[Continued from Bulletins From BA #12]
Día 4 - Return to El Calafate
Our ride from Helsingfors back to El Calafate wasn’t due until 14h00, and we planned to just hang out and recover from our previous exertions, maybe get in a gentle stroll. But when our guide offered to escort us to scenic “Windy Point” for one last view of the glacier, we said OK… why the heck not.
The hike was longer than we expected, though not extreme. But the wind… el viento en la Patagonia can be muy fuerte (fierce). It originates over the Océano Pacífico and races unimpeded over Andean ice for many kilometers, ultimately arriving at Helsingfors. Whereupon it kicks your ass and takes your name. It was decidedly not a stroll, but this last outing perfectly culminated our visit to this enchanting place.
[Shameless Musical Sidebar - I took the liberty of donating to the Helsingfors music library a copy of my CD. I’m pleased to report that it was a hit and immediately placed into heavy rotation.]
We eventually returned in El Calafate in good order, checked in to el Hotel Kosten Aike once more, and promptly went out for pizza.
Día 5 - Lago Argentino Cruise / Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
During my stint in the Navy, sea duty was the one thing that made the tedium of military life tolerable. I loved being a sailor - the open water, the sea spray, the whole nine yards. So when Anne suggested that we book a daylong crucero (cruise) on a small boat, I readily concurred. We were conveyed to “La Soledad,” berth of the good ship Leal, a 20 m vessel with a complement of ten passengers and three crew. Also, a guide. And a chef.
The Leal set out across Lago Argentino into a cold Patagonian headwind. After motoring amongst the icebergs at Glaciar Upsala, we cruised to Glaciar Spegazzini, where we were fêted with a superb five-course gourmet lunch (almuerzo). After dining, we took a side trip to Puesto de las Vacas (“Post of the Cows”), where we disembarked and strolled (Sí, strolled) to the deserted outpost of a once gran estancia. Finally, back to port, where we left our hosts with a fond farewell and a generous gratuity. This crucero was our great indulgence of the week. At least.
Día 6 - Perito Moreno Glacier
Glaciar Perito Moreno is the principle atracción turística in the area. It is located some 78 km from El Calafate and is named in honour of Francisco Moreno (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Moreno), a prominent explorer, anthropologist, archaeologist, and academic (“Perito” is a title meaning “expert”), who was instrumental in incorporating large swaths of Patagonia into Argentina. Glaciar Perito Moreno has become a tourist mecca because it is easy to reach and, unlike many glaciers in this current epoch of global warming, actually advancing.
There are three options for viewing el glaciar: (1) from the crowded deck of a big-ass tour boat (in a 40 knot wind? Sign me up), (2) from the excellent system of shoreline catwalks (Strolling? Sí), and (3) from the actual surface of the glacier, clad in rented crampons (Another time, perhaps). It was a gray, wet, and windy day, but that did not detract from la magnificencia de la vista panorámica. I have never seen anything like it and hope one day to have an opportunity to return. It. Was. Awesome.
Día 7 - El Calafate to BA
Our final day in El Calafate was muy tranquilo. Since the flight to BA was not scheduled to depart until 19h30, we had plenty of time to pack, have lunch, do some small souvenir shopping, and take a stroll (¡Sí!) through Laguna Nimez Reserva Municipal, a nearby expanse of wetlands on Lago Argentino. It is a lovely place, home to a variety of bird life (including flamingos!) and other critters, and the perfect coda for this aventura Patagónica.
So now, having sorted through hundreds of emails and several loads of laundry, we’re back into our Buenos Aires expat urban groove, cognizant of the fact that we are fortunate indeed to still have the ability and the means to engage in periodic viajes excelentes. This is something to be cherished and on no account taken for granted. Thanks for letting me share with you.
Bonus Posting Exclusive: Pope Update - Many of you have inquired as to my take on the selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, as the new Pope, Francis I. From my perspective as an avowed heathen, this can only mean that Argentina now has a lock on the entire Holy Trinity: Father (Papa Francisco Primero), Son (Lionel Messi), and Holy Spirit (Diego Maradona). Amen.