Anthony on the Gringo Trail 2005 travel blog

Seaside at Puerto Pyrimades, rocks of solid fossils

Sea-lion, or sea-wolf, as they call them round here

Head of a Right Whale

Sand spit on Peninsula Valdes

Elephant seals squaring up for a fight

Female elephant seal playing dead

Smug penguin

Bit of a boring journey, hundreds of miles of semi arid scrubby landscape, almost perfectly flat to infinity: the pampas. Not much life on it though. Where are the cows and the gauchos? I know why there isn`t any natives, they were deliberately exterminated by the Spanish.

Anyway, very nice to be by the sea again, though the Atlantic not the Pacific this time. Though my bedroom has this weird tin furniture, including the bed. But coolest of all, I was having a yummy seafood salad full of things with tentacles in a posh beachfront place, and there were young whales blowing and doing the tail thing in the bay right in front of me. I was thrilled to bits! And they were there for hours as I walked up and down the seafront, not 100 metres off shore. That alone has made me glad I decided to come here in the end.

I also sorted out the next couple of days, though they depend a bit on the very strong wind subsiding somewhat so I can get out to sea. Tomorrow, its hopefully a lot more of the (Southern Right) Whales, and perhaps various other marine mammals. The day after it is Magellanic - aka jackass - penguins, at their largest colony in South America. Fingers crossed. The other local attraction is Welsh people, and especially their tea houses, many Welsh having settled here.

For some reason ever since I got here I have been eating very posh, and expensive by local standards. Tonight was a gorgeous lamb affair with sauteed yams, and I couldn't resist the pudding, as I had to find out what salsa de ingles (English Sauce) was. I suspected it was custard, but the waiter said it was raspberry sauce. As the dish had both, on top of ice cream on top of a chocolate brownie - yum, yum, yum - I think I was probably right. And it is pissing with rain.

10th Nov: Woke up, and leaned forward in bed to see whales from my how cool is that? So off I go to see more whales, we hope. This involves quite a drive, to a little place in the Peninsula Valdes National Park called Puerto Pyrimades. While waiting for said boat, I go around picking up fossil shells. All the cliffs, the rocks, and even the beach itself are solid masses of fossilised shells, quite amazing.

The boat is absolutely packed, which means there is a bit of a scuffle every time there is a good photo opportunity. However, in my opinion the opportunities are not that good anyway. These are not the playful young whales I can see from my hotel window, but more mature ones who just cruise around on the surface. Apparently they only really do the breaching, etc during the mating season, like when I was in Ecuador two months ago. Nevertheless, it is still pretty magnificent as they cruise along besides us and even under the boat. Sadly, it turns out they are called Right Whales as they are so easy to hunt..the right ones. The water is very clear and their white bits make themn quite easy to see. Some good posey sea lions too.

And then off to see some elephant seals, huge ungainly creatures, lying on the beach as if they have died from the effort of dragging themselves around. And some penguins, as a taster for tomorrow, as well as a couple of other local mammals, including a hare the size of a small deer. Interestingly, most of the animals are what the guide calls polygamous, usually one male (macho in Spanish) to multiple women, though not in the case of the right whales, where it is the other way round.

So back to Puerto Madryn, and one of the pinkest and most lurid sunsets I have ever seen, and then off to have cod in a honey, ginger and cloves sauce. It was lovely, and I would have licked the plate clean if the restaurant hadn`t been full of French people.

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