August 11th, 2004

emu

Extremes

A day of extremes. Apart from the fact that I am in the extreme south of Argentina at the moment. 8.15am I walked away from the hotel this morning, it was still dark. Aim: walk all the way up to the Glacier Martial.

In town I already missed a turn, but soon after that (and asking twice) I was on my way to climbing the mountain. Behind me I saw the see, the town and the light coming from the east, sun unfortunately not, it was a cloudy day.

7km from the town center was the chairlift to take me further up the hill. I was the first one up the hill this morning, "just follow the track, there is only one" they told me. From there walking wasn´t very easy. Snow, ice, rocks, everything to make sure that you know that every step is right. After an hour or so, I was getting close to the top of the track, but also was doubting to go on. The wind got stronger and it was quite an effort to get there anyway. When in doubt, don´t, seemed a good motto, especially since I was on my own. The views were great from there anyway and I had a nice walk. Bad luck if I didn´t see the glacier.

Back at the lift they told me it was difficult to see the glacier anyway, since in wintertime with all the snow it is impossible to notice where it starts, where it ends. At the bottom of the lift the attendant explained to me where the glacier was, if I understood correctly, more or less where I stopped walking. I did make it after all! Happily I walked the 7km back into town.

In the afternoon I took a boat that cruised the Beagle Channel. Sea after mountains, I don´t think there are many places one can do so in one day.



There was only 5 paying passengers on the boat, 4 other boats,equally empty, doing the same route, competition isn´t always necessary it seems here. It was a huge advantage though by the time we got to the first little island. Sea lions by the dozen were lazily watching the ships come and go. Standing on the front deck, one could nearly hang out the boat and touch them. Good for taking pictures anyway, shame it was such a cloudy day.

One other island also had plenty of sea lions, also several birds, I forgot the name, they did resemble pinguins a bit, though they weren´t related, they did fly away as well. The penguins apparently migrate to Antartica, about a thousand kilometers further south, for the winter.

But seeing so many sea lions (though they are lobos del mar, see wolves in Spanish), certainly was a highlight. They are great animals, make funny noises, play with each other, are curious and swim towards the boat, swim along with the boat as well, in groups, jumping out of the water a lot, what a great sight.



All this, with in the background those mountains with snowy peaks all around us, an experience never to forget.

A long day though, I´m hungry and tired now, so I guess I might splash out and go for the ´all you can eat´ restaurant and then have an early night.