Brisbane Fab Five - Gone International - Guest Post
Posted Dec 23 2008 9:33pm
Hello there ..... here we have a guest post - the second in the series from one of the fab five Brisbane girls, who has gone all "South American" on us. Lucky her ! Enjoy the virtual trip of a life time ...
The story so far! Since leaving BA I have traveled a couple of thousand km´s and made some fabulous friends.
I have been on a Tucan tour through Patagonia. Oh my goodness! Patagonia. What a place! It has the most amazing scenery, from the Andean snow capped mountains, to flat bleak wind swept plans, to grassy knowls chokkas full of sheep and goats. It reminded me a lot of the south island of New Zealand. Patagonia the new NZ????
I wish it was a cheap to travel here as it is NZ. Argentina, in particular this region, is bloody expensive. Even on a tour. For those who like to know where words come from: Pata means foot. Large foot land? and its has one of the lowest population densities in the world. hello?? Anyone there??
I joined the Tucan tour in a gorgeous Alpine town called El Calafate. I swear I was in in Wanaka. the lake, the snow cap mountains, the bars. It was a great little village and I didn't want to leave.
Two things peculiar to this town, was 1) the hundreds of dogs that roam around (all super friendly and looking for a pat...which I didn't do for fear some rabid infectious tick/flea jumping off its mangy coat and bury its self into my skin) and 2) the fact that plastic bags are not just disallowed from the town, but outlawed. You cant get them anywhere.
I found this out the hard way when I went a did a shop at the supermarcado and then had to carry the 15 items back in my pockets, underarms and hands. Outlawed!!!! I felt like flaunting the stash of plastic bags I had back in the hostel in the locals faces. Ooooooo look what I've got!!! That's right. PLASTIC!
From there we went and saw the Moreno Glacier. Its farking HUUUUUUGEEEEEEEE. 5km wide and 60 metres high, no matter where you look at it from, its impressive. And its the most active in the world. It creaks and cracks and groans like an old lady´s knees and then wham! A huge slice splits form the mother block and crashes into the lake below causing a huge wage to spread out beneath its weight. It was breathtaking!
There was 35 on the group from 13 different country's from 18 years to 78! Can you believe it. The 78 year old dude was a legend and he kept us young ones (that's right...I'm young compared to 78) on our toes. Everyone was super nice and friendly.
My roomy was an Irish girl who was tops and we got on immediately. There was only two odd bods and one was an Australian. He was 37 and had never left Sydney, let alone the country. No social skills at all. I kept asking if he wasn't from NZ... (sorry kiwi friends!). But the dynamics of the group rocked and I was never lonely and always had someone to play with.
So after the glacier we drove onto National Parque Torres Del Paine. The most beautiful national park. It was here that we did an 8 hour hike of pure hell to see the Torres Del Paine (Towers of Granite...should have translated to towers of pain... I will explain as we go...) It was the hardest thing I have EVER done. And I´ve dome some things... but this was the most physically and mentally challenging of my life.
We camped for four days and three nights in the national park and hiking and it topped only eight degrees over the four days. Anyway, the hike on the first day was 180 degrees up. Up hills, mountains, forests and then the last hour you had to scramble over massive boulders to get to the lookout to see the Towers.
It was freezing and blowing 200km when you got to the top. You had to hang on for dear life whilst taking photos. It was pretty amazing... and I didn't appreciate if for a few days as on the last hour of the four hour hike back down 180 degrees.. straight down... hello knees... well... it was there that I got food poisoning.
I had bought ham the night before to make a sandwich for the hike and it kinda froze in the fridge during the night but the had defrosted the next day by the time I got to the top...so I thought... can't be too bad can it....
So as I was making my way down, the bad thing happened. My stomach lurched. I gagged. And I raced off to the bushes and all hell broke loose. Literally.
I had to walk the final hour off a mountain with the squirts and nausea and vomiting. I was sweating and shivering and buckled over and just wishing for death. I was so crook that night I wanted to die. Fever, hallucinating, the whole package.
There was a doctor with the group so she game me pills and by the next afternoon I stopped exploding from my various orifices and started feeling better. Crikey it was rough. The next day I was in a coma in my tent and by the third day I felt brave enough to leave my porcelain friends and try another hike... a nice gentle one this time.
It was a beautiful walk, once you saw past the sleet and 100km winds. And I saw an avalanche on this hike. Just meandering along and all of a sudden there was this massive crack and we looked up to the mountain and then all this snow came spewing down making a very loud grumble. Its was so amazing. How lucky am I to see an avalanche... and not get squashed!
Mother nature is just amazing here. Nature is god here. She rules. Hands down.
After leaving the park we spent the next few days visiting various towns, all the while heading south. At Punto Arenas we stopped at a pelican colony. My first time seeing them in the wild. They are so bloody cute. Watched them for ages until my lips started turning blue.
After this we crossed from Chile back into Argentina through a town call San Sebastian. Depressing little dust swept place with a population of 10. The border crossings are in the weirdest places.
We crossed the Magellan straight and on the ferry there was at least 100 dolphins playing in the waves coming off the boat. They were very cheeky and darting this way and that. They were black and white like mini killer whales. It was very cool. Tried to take photos but mostly they came out grey blurs.
We stayed the night in a town called Rio Grande. Its foul and depressing and freezing. The only reason you would come here is to trout fish. Or die I reckon. No other.
Our final destination on this trip... and in the continent, is Ushuaia. The end of the world. The most southerly town in the world. Population approximately 60k and it started as a penal colony... which being Aussie I can totally relate too (this was the comment on the bus...yeah ha ha ha your all funny buggers, I am from a nation of thieves... will that old chestnut ever lose its shine????)
We went on cat and explored the Beagle Channel. It was very cool. Loads of birds and a light house and seals and it was very calm thank goodness. AND I saw my Russian icebreaker!!! The boat I am going on to visit Antarctica.
As I can't pronounce the boat's name, it has kind of morphed into being called the Pavlova. Much easier to pronounce and if you take out the vowels, can sound very Russian! I am starting to freak out a little about Antarctica trip..
Its just that...WHO THE FRICK GOES TO ANTARCTICA ON A RUSSIAN ICEBREAKER!!! Seriously. Have the Russians done anything well lately except for make vodka...are they known for their boatmanship???...oh dear. Deep breaths.
Our last day on the tour was a lovely hike through the Nationale Parque Terro Del Fuego National Park. It was brilliant sunny and calm day and a top of 22 degrees. Mad weather for being so far south. The park was gorgeous and we had a lovely day. Not a bad ham sandwich is sight!
Last night was our big final dinner with the group and we went to a Estacion (farm house) and had the most amazing BBQ. You have never seen so much meet in your whole life. There was enough for all of Argentina. And the BBQ was the size of a house. Man they do meat right here. We all gorged ourselves and rolled out of the place at midnight. The perfect end to a perfect trip.
So in summary:
The Good - the amazing breathtaking mind blowing beautiful scenery.
The Bad - the minus temperature, sleet, hail, 200 km winds, 4 hours of walking extreme up hill and 4 hours of walking extreme downhill.
The disgusting - vomiting and squirting at the same time behind bushes and in front of people and not caring and wanting to die. I am having the time of my life. Next stop... ANTARCTICA!