02 May 2008

El Calafete

We arrived back in Puerto Natales and were very happy to take showers! Once we were all clean, we headed out to do some shopping! Food shopping that is. One of my favorite things about traveling abroad is all of the great little fruit and vegi stands! I have to say the wine selection wasn't too shabby either. Kristi and I went into a butchery and where I inquired in my broken Spanish how much meat would be necessary to fill the bellies of four hungry Americans. He said a Kilo and so we took some Lamb back home to cook. Is beef and lamb the same similar? If so I think we chose to go with Chuletas of a Cow. Good thing we had this lovely little diagram to show us the way! At the hostel we made some delish food, drank more than our fair share of wine and beer, and happily retired to bed! The next day we got up to begin our SIX HOUR trek to cross the boarder into Argentina. Two hours was spent at the borders ('cause you can't just cross once, you have to go exit Chile and enter Argentina) and then four more hours driving across dirt roads with a whole lot of nothin' to look at! I won't bore you with a daily play-by-play, but while in El Calafete we just camped in this guy's backyard.

Hey, for $4 a night, I'll take it. Besides it was advertised in our guide book, so that makes it totally safe, right? Here's a look at our gucci accommodations:
El Calafete was much more touristy than any of the other cities we visited. The architecture is highly influence by Bavarian style. I am pretty outspoken about not being a fan of really touristy places, but hey, sometimes you just have to do it. A plus, they did accept American dollars! Wahoo! They're building a huge new casino, it wasn't even open yet. Oh, and did I mention the stray dogs? Yeah, you can't walk two feet without tripping over some apathetic mutt. One morning we got up and went to a bird sanctuary. I can tell you nothing about the birds you are about to see. But we did have a stray dog escort us along the mile-ish long trail, and he even served as a target for the diving hawk-like birds. It was entertaining to say the least!
A blue billed duck!

And who knew there were flamingo's that far south? Not me! The BIGGEST reason we went to El Calafete was to check out the world famous Perito Moreno glacier. It is one of three glaciers in the world that is actually growing in size. The ice moves down the mountain in a massive sheet, and then eventually meets with water where it calves off in giant chunks. This was a truly amazing sight. The ice you see out of the water rises 60 meters (about 180 feet) above the water, and it can be more than twice as long underwater. I think the photos speak for themselves.

I thought this was funny, no smoking by the glacier! I wish that sign had been around at the Top of Europe!!! After our experience, I just had to write about it. Thanks Adam for capturing my thoughtful side ;-)

The rest of the time in El Calafete we sort of lounged around, explored, and did our gift shopping. Nothing too exciting to report, but it was very relaxing and I ate a lot of delicious dark chocolate. Argentina has the best chocolate in the world! I would not lie to you on this one.

The biggest victory of the whole trip: on the way back I filled up a WHOLE PAGE in my PASSPORT!!! That's right, you're looking at London, Paris, Japan, and South America to make this possible. Thanks double stamping in Chile/Argentina!
And this one is for Allison. Yo tambien chica!!!