Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Change of Plans

On the way to El Chalten from El Calafate If you've been reading South American news, you may have seen that Patagonia has been getting some nasty weather. In addition to the impact of the eruption of Chaiten, this has served to put a real damper on the movement of vehicles, both airborne and those whose wheels are constantly in contact with terra firma. Let me bring you up to speed on what I've been doing and where I've gone. I put together a timeline of events by which to update my travel map and I'm feeling lazy, so I'm just going to use that timeline to update you, rather than writing a full-blown, fancy blog post.

18th — took bus at 8:00 AM from El Calafate to El Chalten
— arrived at El Chalten around noon and did day hike
— spent the night at Rancho Grande hostel

19th — woke up and did day hike
— at 5:00 PM, took bus back to El Calafate
— hung out at America del Sur Hostel, slept on sofa, and showered (at 3:00 A.M.)

20th — took bus at 4:00 AM to Río Gallegos
— arrived at about 8:00 AM
— left at 9:00 AM for Puerto Madryn
— arrived at Comodoro Rivadavia at about 9:00 PM
— got stuck here all night because of snow and road closures (guy in bus seat behind me on the bus was snoring, so I went into the station and slept on the floor—it was hard, but I slept a couple hours, went back into bus at 5:30 A.M. and slept a bit more)
— bought ticket to get from Puerto Madryn to Buenos Aires (decided I wanted to get away from this mess)

21st — left at 11:00 A.M. for Puerto Madryn
— arrived at Puerto Madryn at 6:00 PM
— left for Buenos Aires at 9:00 PM

22nd — arrived in Buenos Aires at 3:30 PM

Mt. Fitz Roy in El Chalten, Argentina As you can see, I didn't go to Bariloche, didn't hitchhike the Carretera Austral, and didn't spend more time in Patagonia. Multiple highways to Bariloche were closed (Bariloche had gotten about four feet of snow, I was told), the road north from El Chalten was closed (I was going to hitchhike that direction to get to the Carretera Austral), and things were a general mess.

So, here I am, back in Buenos Aires. I'm hoping to get my Brazil visa replaced and get all my stuff which had been stolen and An exciting bus ride to Puerto Madryn, our bus driver passing other traffic on a narrow, icy roadwhich I have now repurchased with insurance money mailed to me here from the States. I already saw a few of my old friends my first day here. I'll plan on spending some time with them and maybe even taking a few more Spanish classes with my old tutor to make use of my time here.

I hope to be out of here within less than two weeks. The plan is to visit northern Chile and Argentina—the Atacama desert and whatever else strikes my fancy—then continue north. I may visit some friends in São Paulo, but then I'll plow ahead with my planned course—Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, then down the ol' Amazon River.

Hiking toward Mt. Fitz Roy with the Andes in the backgroundMt. Fitz Roy and surrounding peaks One of my hiking buddies in El Chalten Mt. Fitz Roy and surrounding peaks The Andes The town of El Chalten    The Andes Waterfall near El Chalten Waterfall and stream near El Chalten  Mt. Fitz Roy and surrounding peaks

Buses stranded overnight at the station in Comodoro Rivadavia due to road closuresBetter weather as we head north toward Buenos Aires


Anonymous said...

As that Oscar-winning rabbit, Bugs Bunny once said, "it's so nice to be back in cilivization again." Yep, he said it like that, just after leaving Marvin Martian holding the Illudium Q36 Explosive Space Modulator ("Well, back to the old drawing board..."). So it's nice to see that you're back in BA for now and planning a northern march.

The picture of the mountains at sunset with the tree in the foreground is real strong on composition. The two of the waterfall in winter look like two boots-full of icy slush... but were (IMHO, but I wasn't the one with freezing feet from the effort) worth it.

Our late spring persists - it's all of 13c outside with spotty sun o/ the valley, so I can't help but wonder if your fall/winter is leeching over into our spring/summer...

Well, keep shooting, and buena suerte!


Jay said...


1) The shot of the tree was actally not at sunset. On the other hand, it wasn't at sunrise, either! Remember where I was? It was actually about 11:00 A.M. Amazing how low the sun is, huh?

2) I didn't really pay much of a price to get the shots of the waterfall. There was only a tiny bit of snow on the way, and I avoided breaking through the ice/crusty snow on the perimeter of the water. No problem.

3) You have celciuses where you are? I thought you were in Portland?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'll just blame it on being too Canadian, eh? It's probably either my genetic disposition or an irrational desire to be a non-conformist (in a town whose watch-word is non-conformity, does that imply a double negative?).

Regardless, some day you'll have to come to Jantzen Beach and shoot the millions of drifting seed pods against a blue sky. They're so thick that it looks unreal. Usually happens in April or May, very cool.

BTW, were you on a double-decker bus while getting the shot of passing the Esso tanker on the snowy road? It looked almost like the angle you'd get shooting out the front of an Amtrak loco.


Jay said...

Yeah, most of the buses down here that you take long distances are double-deckers. The photo in question was shot from the top deck, where the front seats are right up against giant windows (as you so astutely observed). I was shooting from row 2.