Friday, November 30, 2007


Friday 30 November 2007

Another thing El Bolson is known for is its locally-brewed beer. Ryan and I went to this brewery where they offer a five-beer tasting platter (which adds up to a liter of beer, so you walk out feeling like you did more than taste!) We tried a regular dark, a smoked dark, a honey ale, a wheat, and a cherry beer. They were all excellent, although the smoked dark and cherry were tied for first for me. In town, you could also get strawberry, raspberry, chocolate, hot pepper, and regular blond, red, and black beers. We definitely enjoyed this aspect of town.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Thursday 29 November 2007

In El Bolson, there is an ice cream place called Jauja, which serves the best ice cream in Argentina. No joke. Which means that this ice cream right here was the best ice cream I have ever tasted in my entire life. (And I've eaten a lot of ice cream.) It was so good, Ryan and I ate it every day we were here. They had flavors like cardamom, cinnamon, mate, black current, dulce de leche with mulberries, dark chocolate, just to name a few. My personal favorite was lemon with elderberry flowers, so light and complex, absolutely heavenly. This ice cream was practically a religious experience.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mountain Graveyard

Wednesday 28 November 2007

Ryan and I went for a hike up in the hills today, searching out a hidden waterfall and some interesting rock formations. On the way, however, we stumbled upon something much more beautiful. This sprawling cemetery tucked amongst the mountains was full of wooden crosses, and the grass was covered with orange and white flowers. This probably sounds morbid, but it looked like a lovely place to rest.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

La Trochita

Tuesday 27 November 2007
On our way out of Esquel today, Ryan and I watched "La Trochita," the local train, pull out of the station. It is an old steam engine, one of the last in service. Really old fashioned - think Anna Karinena, the Hogwarts Express, old westerns. It stopped for a while in town, as it has become something of a tourist attraction. I was even allowed up into the driver's section here, where I was chatting with the engineer. (Finally, an engineer who really does drive a train!)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Welsh Tenor

Monday 26 November 2007
This was the star tenor at the concert last night. It was a Welsh choir, with this guy, singing mostly Welsh songs. I was really surprised by the number of Welsh people in the audience who had traveled along with the choir - family members and whatnot. They sang along for the more popular songs. All I know is, Welsh sounds funny.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Welsh Tea

Sunday 25 November 2007
We managed to get ourselves one more Welsh tea, this time in the town of Trevelin. We were here for their anniversary day, which was celebrated with a parade (which we missed) and a concert (see tomorrow's pic). The tea was just as heavy and sinful - the cream pie wasn't quite as good, but the black Welsh cake was much better. Overall, I was just glad to get one more of these special treats in! Oh, and the teahouse was full of Welsh people speaking Welsh, so that really added to the authenticity of the atmosphere. We talked to one guy later who said that the tea was really authentic, the pastries like his grandmothers, so not bad!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Saturday 24 November 2007
Another long day of traveling today. (Argentina is far too big, in my opinion.) The bus dropped this guy off down near Tierra del Fuego, and I thought it was a pretty stereotypical Patagonia landscape and farm, so I snapped a shot from the window.

Friday, November 23, 2007

More flowers . . .

Friday 23 November 2007
The whole day today was spent traveling, so I couldn't resist putting up my absolute favorite flower picture from Torres del Paine.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The end of the trail

Thursday 22 November 2007
Ryan and I on the way back from Torres del Paine, the end of the trek for us. In the background there you can see some dark spikey mountains - those are the towers for which the park is named.
By the way, you should be very glad that your computer is not equipped with smell-o-vision, as we were quite rank by the end.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Wednesday 21 November 2007

I tried very hard to find the name of this little orchid, but was unable to. We saw a few different kinds of orchids in the park though, yellow ones and white ones.

I figured this an appropriate picture for today, because I myself was staying rather close to the ground. Ryan went up the last valley today to view the torres, or towers, which are the tall thin mountains that the park is famous for. I, however, have been having some foot troubles. I wore some boots that I bought about six months ago. They were uncomfortable at first, but I wore them in, and wore them in some more, and got them comfy. Or so I thought. As it turns out, however, they were not quite ready for such a long hike. At the end of the first day, I had a few blisters. At the end of the second, I had a few more. By the third, I had about 10 blisters all in different places, each place painful in its own way. I was hobbling by the end of the third day, and decided not to join Ryan on the last day's hike, as staying at the campsite seemed preferable to having my feet actually rub off, and having to be left on the side of the trail somewhere. Ah well.

Actually, looking at my photos, I have more pictures of flowers than I do of mountains, so I guess that's a good clue as to where my interests lie. I'm not very disappointed at having to stay behind and watch the birds and the flowers, not by a long shot.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Buena Vista

Tuesday 20 November 2007

A nice view in the Chilean national park Torres del Paine. The lakes are all glacial run-off, and so are freezing cold and bright whitish teal. The color is caused by the minerals suspended in the water, and is so distinctive that they actually call it "glacial milk."

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Trail

Monday 19 November 2007

I tried to take a lot of pictures of the trail itself as we hiked through the trek named "The W" (The path roughly resembles a w as it winds up three different valleys) because the trail itself changed constantly. At times it was soft earth through green forest, sometimes it was all rocks and boulders, sometimes it was through scrub desert, sometimes it seemed completely vertical, sometimes it would actually be water, as streams found a better way down the mountain.

A word about the streams. The water in the rivers was melting directly off the glaciers above. There is no pollution, and it's too cold for parasites and whatnot. Meaning, you could drink the water directly from the streams. Just bend down and take a sip. There are so few places on earth where you can do that anymore, it was a luxery I cannot describe. To be honest, the water was my favorite part of the park. It wasn't as good as Redfield water (as those of you who know will agree, the minerals add flavor!) but it was the most pure, tasteless, cold, simple water I have ever tasted. It was just plain water, but it was delicious.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Glaciar Gray

Sunday 18 November 2007

Today Ryan and I started a hike through the Chilean national park Torres del Paine. We hiked from our starting point about 3 and a half hours to our campsite, and then another hour (without our packs full of food and tents and such, yea!) up to Gray Glacier. It was a pretty impressive view, to look out over the glacier, not just up at its wall, and we happened to see a huge tower of ice fall off! It was so loud, it sounded like thunder that just went on and on and on. I know, this is technically four photos for today, but I thought a sequence should count for one.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Glaciar Upsala

Saturday 17 November 2007

Just to give you an idea of the size of these glaciers. That boat is huge. You can just barely see the people on top of it - those little black dots. And it goes back for miles and miles.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Friday 16 November 2007

Ryan and I took a boat tour of several more glaciers today. It was cold and rainy, but the clouds actually make for better viewing of the ice, as the blue really comes out. There was a ton of ice in the water - here is a particularly impressive berg. It was probably five stories tall, towering over our boat.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Glaciar Perrito Moreno

Thursday 15 November 2007

I know, judging from my pictures you probably think that Ryan has a camera glued to his face 24/7. That's only mostly true - he puts it down to sleep.

We visited the most famous glacier in Argentina today, Perrito Moreno. It really was quite impressive - especially due to the fact that it is one of only two glaciers in the whole world not receding. It advances about 2 meters a day, although about the same amount of ice falls off every day, so it stays in more or less the same place. We saw some amazing pieces of ice fall off the front, which split off with cracks like gunshots and hit the water with a rumble like thunder.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A snake eating an elephant? Or a hat?

Wednesday 14 November 2007

Today was another long bus ride, so I figured I'd show you this little gem of a photo. For anyone who has read the book The Little Prince, the shape of this island may look familiar. Antoine de Saint Exupéry spent a lot of time in Patagonia, and several of the drawings in the book are supposed to have been inspired by the landscape down here. This little island, called Isla de los Pájaros, was supposedly the inspiration for the narrator's first childhood drawing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ahhh! Dinosaurs!!!

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Down here in Patagonia we are in the heart of dinosaur country, so we decided to visit the Paleontology Museum in the town of Trelew today. It was an amazing museum, absolutely chock full of bones. Different dinos from the normal North American ones, too, which was neat to see. The absolute best part of the whole museum, though, was that they had a real, actual dinosaur bone (an Argentinasaurus femur, I think) that you could touch!!! I touched a real bone, a bone that was once inside of a real dinosaur! Where else could you do something like that?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Parque el Desafío

Monday 12 November 2007

We visited the town of Gaiman today, a little ways inland. It was originally founded by Welsh settlers, and still preserves a lot of that tradition. Welsh is spoken by the elders, and is seen around town, and having a Welsh afternoon tea is a big attraction. (Ryan and I shared one and could barely walk away after so many delicious cakes and scones!)

Another big attraction in town is the Parque el Desafío (Park Challenge). It is the work of one man (with a little help from his daughter, I believe) who for the past 27 years has been collecting trash and turning it into art. It is full of statues made of old wine bottles, a maze made of old cans, flowers from plastic pop bottles, dinosaurs made from scrap metal, all kinds of amazing things. All around the park are little plaques with wise or funny sayings on them - the one above says "You can buy a dog, but you can't teach it to wag its tail."

The whole thing was a little tacky, but simply wonderful all the same.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A whale of a tale or two . . .

Sunday 11 November 2007

This was my 1000th picture with this camera, and what a picture, huh? We went out on a whale-watching boat off the Peninsula Valdéz today, and saw probably about a dozen whales. What luck! We even saw some mothers swimming with their calves. It was an impressive sight - the whales were bigger than the boat. At one point, a big male swam right under the boat. I watched him the whole time, a little unnerved by the huge creature just under us (imagine what he could do with a flick of his tail!) but it was exhilarating and beautiful all the same.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Elephant Seal

Sunday 10 November 2007

An elephant seal pup, lolling around on the beach. There were many more seals on the shore, but he was the most interesting. We were fairly far away, and they were just resting - they just looked like gray blobs. Still, it's pretty cool seeing all this unique wildlife!

Friday, November 09, 2007


Friday 9 November 2007

We went on a looong bike ride down the coast today, past three point jutting out into a cold South Atlantic sea. This is the lighthouse on the second point - quite different from our Michigan lighthouses, but I suppose anything tall with something bright on top will do!

It was rather difficult, riding though Patagonia, and not just because it was a rough dirt road on rented bikes, up and down hills. The landscape really affected me on that ride, I found. It is bleak - a low scrubby desert with no trees, no buildings, nothing green. Just drab flatland, and it was a gray cloudy day to boot, making it even more depressing. I don't want to say that Patagonia is an ugly desert with no redeeming features, as many have said before, but just that today, on this ride, it was a little too much for me. Or not enough - too underwhelming, perhaps.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sea Lions

Thursday 8 November 2007

Ryan has a much better story about sea lions than I do - today, he went scuba diving with them! He said the water was awfully cold (about 10 degrees C) but that they were so graceful and playful and friendly that it was well worth the numb toes. From the beach, they look pretty lazy to me!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Welcome to Puerto Madryn

Wednesday 7 November 2007
Today was actually a traveling day, but seeing as you don't want to see pictures of the inside of buses, and I have so many great pictures begging to be seen, I am giving you a little preview of what is to come: the Valdéz Pennisula! Here is a Magellenic Penguin, a colony of which we saw up close and personal. I promise you'll be getting lots more of the local wildlife once I find a faster, hopefully cheaper, internet connection . . . (whenever that may be!)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Tuesday 6 November 2007
We walked out to the river tonight and caught a gorgeous sunset.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Mary in the cemetery

Monday 5 November 2007
Man, what a wierd day we had today! We spent some time walking around the town of Paysandú, seeing the History Museum and whatnot. Then, on a whim, we decided to buy some crayons and paper and go out to the cemetery to do some rubbings. After all, there's a lot of history around here, we thought there might be some pretty old stones.
We got there, however, and it turned out there were not many old graves, those are in a different graveyard across town. This was a bit newer and richer cemetery, in the same style as we have seen in Buenos Aires - big mausoleums, fancy statues, and family tombs.
What made it a wierd day, however, were the caretakers. They saw us taking pictures, and so asked what the pictures were for, where we were from, what on earth we were doing in a graveyard on our vacation, etc. When they found that we were curious foreigners, they took it upon themselves to give us a tour of the cemetery as well as a lesson on South American death.
Some interesting facts: When they bury you down here (or set you in a drawer on a long wall, which is also common) you only stay in your coffin for four years. After that, they take you out, clean off your bones, and put them into a much smaller box. This is put either on a shelf in a storage building, with a little spot for flowers and stuff in front of it, or is put back into the family tomb. Very space efficient.
In fact, they were so eager to teach us all about it, that one guy came by with one of those little boxes to show us the bones inside! The dead man's cousin was there, also eager that we should see the bones and to tell us all about what he was like in life. They showed us where they clean off the four-year-old skeletons, as well as where they keep the bones of people who have no family - in a big square pit, covered with a stone! (The stone was also covered with fake flowers from people who believed a loved one might have ended up inside.)
I have to say - it is really really nice traveling down here where I speak the language. We never would have learned everything we did today if we didn't speak Spanish.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Church in Paysandú

Sunday 4 November 2007
As it's Sunday, I thought a picture of a big fancy South American church might be nice. This one is pretty darn old and ornamentated, and even survived a canonball attack during the war with the Brazilians. (I think. It might have been the Argentines. They both attacked this city, as well as the Spanish a bit earlier.)
And Ryan and I have found, the hard way, that we really have to plan Sundays as days of rest or travel or catching up, as NOTHING is open on Sundays down here. Absolutely nothing.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Saturday 3 November 2007

First of all, I need to credit Ryan with this gorgeous photo. I forgot my camera today (I know, a terrible crime!) so he lent me a picture. We visited the old slaughterhouse in Fray Bentos, a town a little ways south of Paysandú, where we are staying. It was definitely an interesting trip, seeing all the old equipment and all. This factory produced canned and condensed meat products (they could fit the goodness of 32 kilos of beef into 1 kilo of beef extract!) to Europe for 116 years. Soldiers in both of the world wars carried their products in their rations kits. In fact, they were so efficient, they said, that they only part of the cow they didn't use was the moo! (They also produced fertilizer, if you're wondering where the bones went.)

Our tour guide said that in the fourth grade she was taken here on a field trip. They took 9-year-olds to a working slaughterhouse! She said she passed out from the smell of all the blood, although the sight didn't bother her. (Well, beef in all its forms is a very common sight down here, after all.)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friendly Fire Hydrant

Friday 2 November 2007
In Paysandú, a small city on the western edge of Uruguay.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Puma water!

Thursday 1 November 2007
This is Ryan, trying to kiss a puma. No, you're right, he's not trying to kiss it, he's trying to drink its spit.
You see, Ryan and I went up to the Parque Salus today, just outside of Minas, which is where they brew the local beer, Patricia, and where they bottle the most common Uruguayan spring water. This is the spring, right here, coming out of the puma's mouth.
There is a ledgend that says that long long ago a puma discovered this spring, and decided to stay here and guard it. Today the puma is long gone, although they say that sometimes you can still see its shadow disappearing into the forest. Drinking this water is supposed to give you the strength and vitality of a puma, and it has curative powers. Well, I drank some today, so let's hope the blister on my toe miraculously goes away!