Saturday, May 17, 2008

Update from El Calafate

Flamingos, nature reserve, El Calafate Two nights ago, a couple folks from England told me that there were some flamingos in the reserve close to the hostel, so I knew I had to try to shoot them before leaving. So, yesterday morning, I hiked down to the reserve, hopped over the closed gate, and shot some birds, despite the fact that my four-legged friend who had followed me from the hostel kept trying to chase them off.

I got back around noon and that gave me a late start getting out of town. I stuck my thumb out at 1:00 P.M., but it was 2:00 before I got a ride. Moreover, my ride—Daniel—could take me only to the place where highway 40 heads north to El Chalten. He kept going East to Río Gallegos. It didn't take long for me to realize I had made a potentially significant judgement in error. It was now mid-afternoon—the sun goes down by 6:00—it was really windy, it was really cold, there were hardly any cars going by, and I was in the middle of nowhere.

Southern Caracara, nature reserve, El Calafate I soon decided that I would catch the first ride that would take me to either El Chalten or back to El Calafate. Before long, Carlos, traveling around Patagonia for about a month on business for his company in Buenos Aires, picked me up and we headed back to El Calafate. My feet had to share the floor with three gas cans that he carries because of the sparseness of gas stations in these here parts. He gave me some cookies and we talked about the weather, both here and in other parts of Argentina, and about our travels. He agreed that things could've gotten nasty for me.

I was a bit sheepish walking back into the hostel after leaving only hours before, but they graciously took me back in. Carlos ended up staying here, too. He agreed with what I had told him—it's a wonderful hostel for a great price.

This morning, I got an earlier start. I figured more folks would be leaving a bit earlier in the day. Between 10:00 A.M. and 1:30 P.M., three cars pulled over. None of them was going to El Chalten. Being a wimp and not terribly dedicated to my cause, I headed back to the hostel. I was cold, hungry, and had to pee. If I were really a hard-core hitchhiker, I would've just peed at the side of the road. Granted, this isn't Rio de Janeiro, but I don't think anyone around here would've been terribly concerned.

A little while later, it started snowing.

I decided that I would rather feel like a failure temporarily than to keep standing next to the road freezing. I don't think here to El Chalten is a particularly high-probability route for hitchhikers. In the summer, my chances might have been better. As my good friend Brian T. would have advised me, I have given myself permission not to hitchhike this segment—I'm still not particularly happy about it, though. From El Chalten, I'll see how it looks.



North Georgia Gal said...


I am so enjoying your blog and photographs. Who needs a D3 anyway... I worry about you hitchhiking.. be careful... safe travels..


Anonymous said...

My dear friend FELIPE, Hope you are ok and WARM at Chalten...I have just read your last post (¿se dice asi?) and it´s very funny cause i can remember you face (and mine!) every time you arrived back to the hostel...It was nice having you here! Keep on moving, Latin America is waiting for you!!!!
Mariana (America del Sur Hostel)

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize flamingos were cold weather birds. The picture of the hawk(?) turning to the left was a great shot, very pretty bird.


Jay said...


Thanks for the kind wishes! You don't need to worry for now. I'm hightailing it north. It's cold, some roads are closed from a recent snow storm, the volcano is causing other problems, and there's not much traffic in some areas down here in the winter. I'll plan on hitchhiking more later.

Jay said...


If you hover over the first bird (sitting on the post), it should give you some text. I believe it's a Southern Caracara...the same bird I shot in Tierra del Fuego (two birds playing/fighting in flight). Both the hawk and the Southern Caracara are in the order "Falconiformes." Beyond that, it gets more complex. You can read more on Wikipedia, of course. :)

Don't know anything about flamingos, except they're pink.


Jay said...


You won't believe this, but I'm writing this from America del Sur! The buses north from El Chalten are cancelled because of snow, so I brought the bus back here tonight, after a hike yesterday and another one today. The weather was beautiful, but it was really cold in the morning.

I leave on the bus for Río Gallegos at 4:00 A.M., so I'm just hanging out here for a few hours. I guess you won't be here by the time I leave, so I won't get to see you again. :(

From Río Gallegos, I'll go to Puerto Madryn. After that, I'm not sure.

It's nice to hear from you! Talk to you later!


Anonymous said...

Actually, I thought flamingos were plastic with steel legs that you push into the lawn. At least my cousin's house in Sumner came with a pink flamingo, lo those many years ago (some time in the early sixties).

Of course, nowadays you can't find a plastic pink flamingo anywhere, not even at a hardware store (so perhaps someone in the Sierra Club will get them on the protected list along with spotted owls).

The pictures are still lookin' good!

Buena Suerte (and keep warm out there)!