|Freezing actually! What a difference it makes to be in Patagonia compared to Iguazzu. Amazing that in one country there can be such extremes - I guess that's a function of the North-South orientation of Argentina. Well, we left Iguazzu on time, but once we were back in Buenos Aries, the problems at the domestic airport persisted. However, we got lucky, and our flight to El Calafate went from "delayed" for 2 hours to "boarding" in less than 5 minutes! They switched aircraft, and in the end, we were only a half hour late. We checked into our hostel and still had time to walk around before it got too dark.
The landscape here is beautiful. In the background are the Andes, and all around you are the famous Patagonian ranch lands looking like a cross between northern Montana and the Mongolian steppe. The calafate bush is everywhere - the signature of the landscape. There are no trees. All of this surrounds a gigantic green lake, Lago Argentinio, Argentina's largest lake which is fed from a series of glaciers, including the Perito Moreno, the one we are here to see. It is cool, and fiercely windy all the time. I remember in the past wondering why there was a technical clothing company called Patagonia, and now I am starting to understand why. At this end of the earth, he weather is very changeable, and one has to be prepared for everything.
We had to wait a day before going out to the glacier because the tour we wanted was full for the day after our arrival, so we spent a day in Calafate visiting the local nature reserve and trying some of the local restaurants. The reserve was nice and quiet, and there were many pink flamingos nearby. We had steak again for dinner at a place called "La Cucina" and it was just fabulous. I had the "Lomo Roquefort", which is tenderloin with that famous French cheese. It was soooooo good! Unbelievable for the price! They eat so much meat here - more than anywhere we've seen - it's a wonder they don't all have heart attacks. But I can really see what they mean, it is truly fantastic.
Anyway, the next day we were out to the glacier and the weather was, well, piss poor. It was a tough day for pictures (that's why they're all a little on the dark side). We had a lot of rain and a lot of wind, but it made for a really "glacial" experience! We got soaked and cold, and out on the boat it was really rough, but this glacier is worth it. There is so much movement, and you hear all the cracking and splashing as the glacier calves off continuously. Many times, we saw huge chunks falling into the sea. We found out that the glacier is moving an incredible 2 metres per day, definitely not at a glacial pace as they say. However, the glacier is viewed as "stable" (neither receding or advancing) because the calving rate is currently equal to the growth rate. It used to be an advancing glacier, and you can see the scour marks on one of the sidewalls just before some very old trees, giving away the fact that it has receded a little in the last few years. Global warming? That's what the experts are saying anyway.
The place is beautiful though, and in this less sunny weather, the variations of blue that you can see are intense. From the deepest, almost purple colour where the ice is most compressed, to a light sky blue inside some of the newest cracks - the Moreno is an awesome sight. We did a little mini trek along the shore of the lake and then took our launch out to the face of the glacier. From below it on the water, you feel as though you have come up against a gigantic man made wall of ice - sort of like those huge gates to Mordor in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Fascinating! It was cold though, and Kristine's nose always freezes, so I tried to give it a kiss to warm it up. It felt like I got a little bit of junk out of her nose, so I complained a little, but then she said "SNOT possible!" Another great double entendre from the queen of couth. I wasn't sure if it was a warning or a comment on the cleanliness of her nose. Who NOSE?"
OK, that's enough of that for one entry.
We were off on the bus to Puerto Natales in Chile the next day where we are gearing up for our trek to Torres del Paine, the famous Patagonian peaks in Chile's far south. It was a beautiful morning, and the friendly dogs around the station made me wonder what it would be like to be one of them. These dogs were having a great time, maybe even more fun than we are having. Patagonia - what a beautiful place so far.