Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, El Calafate - Periot Moreno Galcier, Torres del Paine, Punta Arenas, Tierra del Fuego and Ushuaia

November 6, 2004

Well, I wanted to take the opportunity to write about some of what I have been doing for the last week. I flew into Buenos Aires last Sunday so I have now been in Argentina for a week now. Most of this time has been in Buenos Aires but I did spend a couple of days at Iguazu which is one of the worlds biggest collection of waterfalls.

First about Buenos Aires, I love the city. So much so I could actually live here. It is very sophisticated for Latin America with a very European feel to it. The people of Buenos Aires or Portenos,as they call themselves are very nice albeit a little superficial. They are the biggest label whores I have every seen. Even the average person dresses very well, in most cases probably beyond their means. They love things that show names or labels, it an item has the designers name or logo in big letters they like it.

At the same time they are the worst drivers in the world. Lanes are something of a suggestion to them, they will often fit 3 cars in two lanes or will drift from lane to lane sometimes driving using two lanes. I would actually like to get a rental car and drive around the city to see what that is like. The one thing that the do have down here that I really like is that they also use the yellow light on stoplights on the green light. This makes it so that you are almost at the drag races, as there are yellows going in both directions one person is speeding up and will probably run through the red light and the other has their feet on the gas and brake getting ready to take off. I am actually surprised that I have not seen an accident but they will often lock up their breaks to avoid hitting another car or pedestrian.

This is the first trip that I have made a concerted effort to learn some Spanish before I came and at this point I can count, which has made it easier than my normal giving them a large bill that I know will cover it or holding out a hand full of change and letting them pick it out. Now I can actually find out how much I need to pay and give them a correct amount. In other areas it has not helped much. I have several times tried to order orange juice but I obviously am not pronouncing it correctly as I have several times ended having to get coffee instead as they could not understand that I wanted in orange juice but can order coffee. Too bad I do not drink coffee at all.

I am going to move into a side note for a moment, you will notice as I type this that I have used do not or have not rather than using conjunctions as I normally do and that is because the keyboards are different and on some of them I can not get them to make an apostrophe at all, so I have to spell it out instead.

Something else that I have done is fallen in love with steak down here. I do love steak and thought that we had it mastered. We do not, the Argentinians have it mastered and they do it much better than we do. I could eat this stuff every day for the rest of my life. For one thing all of it is grass feed and free range, the second must be the way they cook it. It is done simply but absolutely delicious. The other thing that I should mention is that it is dirt cheap. I have had several of the best steak dinners of my life and I think the most expensive one was around $12 and that included wine and desert.I am really looking forward to a couple more weeks of eating this and will really miss it when I have to come home and will not be able to eat steak like I am now.

Now is one of the best times to come to Argentina, here a couple of years ago when I ended up going to Peru I looked at coming to Argentina but at that point in time the prices of everything was as much as they were in the US. The Argentinian Peso was tied to the dollar so one Peso was equal to a dollar. Then the economy collapsed here shortly after Septemeber 11. It is really hard one people here still, you can see people that are working jobs that you normally would not expect (rather well dressed men that look like they would be a banker or manager somewhere handing out fliers to a restaurant on a street corner), the unemployment rate is very high but it does make things cheap for us. Most things like food and lodging and goods made down here cost 1/3 to 1/2 what they do in the US, things from the US, Europe and Japan are sometimes a little cheaper or about the same price, except for electronics which in some cases are as much to 50% more for American or Japanese brands.

So other than spending time in Buenos Aires I went to Iguazu falls which is on the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. It is in the jungle and was a great trip. The waterfalls are incredibly impressive, much more so than Niagra. I took a tour of the falls, was able to see my first Toucan and actually get a not so good picture of it and took the best jet boat ride of my life. They do trips that you could not do in the US. TO being with this is World Heitage site which is established by the UN as the most important places in the world. The pyramids, Macchu Piccu, Angkor Watt, and Yellowstone are all on the list. So from an environmental perspective I do not think that they would let you run jet boats around the falls. Second they go right up to the falls and I mean right up to them. We went on the boat and it is only about a 15 minute ride but within about 5 minutes a thunderstorm started so it started pouring rain and thunder and lighting wear going off all around so we started getting very wet very quick but then they took the boat up to the base of the falls and in one case were within about 20 feet of the fall itself.

After that trip I flew back to Buenos Aires (that was yesterday) and will be flying out tomorrow morning for El Calafate. This is a town in Patagonia that serves only one purpose. It is the base for trips to Perito Moreno, the only advancing glacier in the world. I will fly down there tomorrow hopefully go on a day tour of the glacier on Monday and then leave for Puerto Natales which is in Chile and the base for trips to Torres del Paine, the main destination of my trip. I do not know when I will be sending out another update on my travels but hope to do it within the next week or so. More later.


November 14, 2004

Well, I have visted a couple of places so I am going to bring you up to speed on the places I have visited since my last post. As an FYI, I have not posted any pictures as there is limited space on this site for pictures and the setting that I use on my camera produces rather large photos. So much so that I would only be able to post one picture. I am hoping to be able to spend some time in the next few days and learn how to reduce the size of photos using a program that is in Spanish (easy enough in English but it is a little harder with the language difference.

At the end of my last post I was still in Buenos Aires and was going to fly to El Calafate which I have since done. El Calafate is located in the middle of the western part on the Argentinain side of Patagonia. The town really only serves one purpose, as a gateway to Perito Moreno glacier. The glacier is the only one in the world that is currently advancing and is only one of a few in the area. It is the most accessible and as it is advancing it tends to be rather dramatic. It calves icebergs into the lake that it borders on a very regular basis. Just about everyone who has visited has been able to see a rather large junk of glacier fall off into the lake in the manner I am sure everyone has seen images of. Everyone except me that is. The people that went on the day before and after I did reported seeing it happen but we didn´t (I can actually use apostrophes on this keyboard) see much of anything.

It was still rather impressive. You do get the opportunity to take a boat ride in the lake but you don´t get that close to the glacier because of the falling ice (there is a memorial to the 38 people that have died from falling ice over the last 50 years at the glacier). They also have some boardwalks that aren´t that far from the glacier that give you different views of it. There is also an opportunity to take a short trek on the glacier using crampons but it is short (about an hour) but takes all day and is expensive for down here so I didn´t do that.

The area is interesting becaue in many ways it looks like junks of eastern Oregon and Washington. The galciers are on the eastern side of the Andes, which aren´t that high down here (most of the peaks are around 10,000 feet, compared with the northern Andes which reach between 15,000 and 22,000) but they are high enough to catch almost all of the mositure coming off of the Pacific so this has a high desert sort of feeling to it. I had read about the wind and on the day going out the galcier go one opportunity to really experience what it is like. We had stopped to take pictures of some Andean Condors (they have 9 feet wing spans, are the largest birds down here but too far away to get good pictures of) and while it wasn´t that cold (probably mid 50s) the wind at this spot was at least 40-50 miles an hour and that is actually pretty common from what the tour guide was saying. All of Patagonia is normally windy but there are some spots that are really windy.

The rest of the animals that are down here are also interesting. There are lots of rather big rabbits (they are probably the size of a small dog), guanacos (which are related to the llama but seem to be more graceful and act more like antelope to me), rheas (birds that are similar to ostriches or emus) and tons of sheep. I don´t know how many sheep there are down here but there are a lot. They run some cattle but mainly it is all sheep. Even Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ran sheep down here. The estancias (ranch or farm) are huge (some running over 100,000 acres)and there isn´t a lot of vegetation so it takes a lot of land to support anything and sheep do better than cattle.

El Calafate itself kind of turned me off. I don´t know how many people they move a day through the town and the galcier but it is somewhere between 500 and 1000. THe town itself looks a lot like a much smaller version of Bend, with the buildings done up as log acabins and it looks cute enough. Just way too many tourists and all of the people that live here have seen a few too many tourists. Other than go and look at another glacier, there wasn´t much to do around here and the thing that I wanted to do was no longer an option. When I set my itinerary I had to make some choices and I didn´t have time to fit everything in as I would have liked. I wanted to go to El Chalten which is just north of El Calfate and the gateway to Mt. Fitz Roy and do some trekking up there but just didn´t have time. Had had heard that there where some of the companies in Calafate that did day tours to Fitz Roy so I planned one day there doing that.

The problem is roads in Patgonia. Most of them aren´t paved, they are dirt and some of them are rather bad, with the road from El Chalten to El Calafate being in rather bad shape, to the extent that it was 5 hours each way. That didn´t really leave anytime to go and see the mountain so no one overs these tours anymore. So I went ahead and left Calafate a day early and went to Puerto Natales.

Puerto Natales is in Chile and is in one of the Chilean fjords. The southern have of Chile is covered is fjords and they are rather dramatic with the Andes rising out of the sea right there. While there is a cave where the mylodon was first found (it is a huge kind of Ant Eater that was discovered about 100 years ago and when discovered they though the animal still existed and just hadn´t been discovered but it was found later to have gone into extinction about 10,000 years ago) nearby there isn´t much to do in the area. While not as touristy as El Calafate it does still get a lot of visitors for the purpose of going to Torres del Paine about 80 miles away. I arrived in P. Natales and booked all of my transportation and lodgings for my trip to Torres del Paines which is the main purpose of my trip.

I was in awe of the majestic nature of Torres del Paine the first time I saw a picture of it 20 years or so ago and knew it was some palce I had to go. After having been there I am convinced it is the most beautiful place on Earth. It is composed of several lakes and mountains with a few glaciers scattered in between. It starts off at just a couple hundred feet in elevation and then most of the mountains top off at around 10,000 feet. Nothing too tall just very majestic.

My plan was to do a trek called the W. It is because it takes the shape of a W. I arrived at the park on what had to be described as a perfect day. There wasn´t a cloud in the sky, it was this perfect sort of blue and it was relatively warm (high 60s-low 70s). I had seen reports from just a few weeks before of falling snow, freezing rain and tempertures in the 40´s. I was so glad that I was able to arrve and see the view of the moutains and get a few pictures as I had pretty much convinced myself that I wouldn´t get to see the mountains as there was a very sizeable chance they would be wrapped in clouds. I was fine with this but was very glad for the view. After arrving in the park I went to the center part of the W for a ride on a motorized catamaran to one of the refugios so I could trek the left hand side of the W to my nights lodging at Refugio Grey. At the top left hand side of the W is Grey Glacier and right near the glacier is a refugio which is one of the neat features of this park. They are huts which serve food and provide bunk beds in dormitory style rooms. Much nicer than a tent, a meal of ramen and no shower if the weather is 40 and freezing rain. So the first day I hiked off from the bottom left arm of the W to Grey Glacier at the top left of the W. I spent the night at the refugio, had a good time talking to the rest of the trekkers (mainly Europeans) and then hiked back the next day to where the boat dropped me and the newest of the refugios and my next nights lodging. Unfortunately the clouds had come in, so a lot of the views where now in clouds but it was still incredibly beautiful. The water color is incredible in the lakes and you have different colors in the different lakes, the terrain varies and you are constantly seeing different things.

I ended up hiking with a pair of Irish women from refugio grey to the lodgings on my second night, the following morning was going to be my longest day so I took of rather early (7:30) and ended up running into an English woman that I hiked with for a couple of hours before she had to trun around and catch the catamaran. After this other, than seeing people at the refugios, and passing people on the trail I hiked alone. There weren´t that mainy people on the trail either with the most I probably saw on the trail in any day being 20 or so. This third day was going to take me from the bottom left of the W to the bottom right of the W and included a rather hard trek up hill. The first and second day where about 4 hours of hiking, doing about 6 miles or so. This second day was going to be about 8 hours of hiking and 12 miles. The first 4 miles where very easy especially hiking with the English woman as we talked about her travels (she had been travelling since just after Christmas last year and is just heading home)but then she turned around to leave and I was left with what has been described as the best part of the hike. Since I was coming back to the same point. I was dropping my pack and just carrying a light fleece jacket, some food and water and my camera up the valley and back. This valley is between two of the mountains, on the left there is aglacier overhanging the valley and on the right I couldn´t since much as clouds wrapped around the mountain, but the trail climbed quickly over some very rocky sections as I could hear and occassionally see avalanches on the mountain and glacier to my left. The trail followed a gorgeous stream coming off the mountains.

The one thing I should mention here is that the aren´t many places in the world that you can just drink the eater out of a stream, including anywhere in North America. All of the water in this park is safe to drink, whether it is from a lake or a stream. I got water from all of them and there is just something special about being able to drink water that just a few minutes before was locked up in a glacier and actually may have last fallen as snow several thousand years ago.

I stopped by this stream to eat and saw the first people on this section of trail they asked me in broken English if I had a greem pullover and I responded that I did. This was the fleece jacket I had taken with me and had dropped at some point without noticing. This left me wearing just a tshirt and at this point the clouds were starting to chage. It was obviously going to start raining at some point within the next hour or two. SO I quickly made my way up to a lookout that had incredible views of the glacier looking back over the vally and the lake below. I spent some time going a little further but knew it was going to start raining so I didn´t go all the rest of the way up. It did start to rain shortly after I started down and I ended up finding my pullover where the people had left it, now wet and very near where I had dropped my pack.

Being an Oregonian while I don´t like hiking in the rain, for the most part if it isn´t too cold I still don´t wear a jacket when it rains and it was raining rather lightly so I just continued on to the next refugio. This refugio was packed. It had a tour group of Italians there and with the rain the people that where camping wanted to be indoors so it ended up being very crowded and damp with everyone trying to dry clothes.

The following morning it started raining first thing and while I had reservations for that night at a campground near the end of the W I decided to just start early, finish the W and go back to Puerto Natales, so I finished the hiking in the intermitent rain and go back into a nice warm hotel room for the evening. Oerall these couple of days were some of the most spectacular that I could ever imagine. This is without a doubt the best trekking in the world and I am very glad to have done it. I do want to come back and spend more time in the park, more at a distance from the mountains so that I am able to enjoy the views. There is a hotel in what has to be at the most spectacular site in the world and if I am ever in a position to afford it ($500 a night in the winter, $800 in the summer, for a minimum of 3 nights)I want to come back, stay there and enjoy some relaxation in the views.

When I got back to Puerto Natales I booked a bus to take me to Punto Arenas the next day, which brings me to where I am today. I arrived by bus a few hours ago and as it is Sunday this particular city is pretty much shut down. Punto Arenas is on the western end of the Straights of Magellan. This was one of the main ways to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific and the vice versa before the Panama canal was built. The other was going around Cape Horn and there seems to be some difference as to which was more dangerous (here is an interesting link on a ship that recently went through the straights http://homepage.mac.com/lexl/iblog/C744401703/E377249439/ ). South from here is Tierra del Fuego so for the next week I will be exploring this southern part of the world. I plan ongoing to see the penguins in the next few days and just see what else this part of the world offers.

Spell checking has not worked so I make no claims that the spelling in this document is correct.


November 18, 2004

Well, I went and saw the penguins in Sena Otway sound just outside of Punta Arenas, Chile. I arrived a week early. There are two places to see penguins (and these are Magellanic penguins which are smaller than the Emperor penguins that live in Antarctica)near Punta Arenas, Sena Otway which has a couple of thousand breeding pairs and Isla Magdelana which has somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000. For a frame of reference there are places in the Falkland islands that have over a million breeding pairs. Magdelana is harder to get to being an island in the Straights of Magellan and low and behold these trips do not (I cannot get the apostrophe to work on this keyboard)start until the following week. So it was Sena Otway. This is an established area that the penguins come to breed. They spend their winter off the coast of Brazil, the males arrive first to the breeding grounds here, they establish a burrow then the females arrive and they pair off, breed and then a couple of months later the chicks start to hatch.

The day that I went out was the first day of hatching. We went out in the evening as the early morning and evening are the best times to see them. The male and female trade off every morning and evening watching the egg or chick and feeding so when we went in the evening you saw penguins arriving from the sea and others departing. They have built board walks that are roped off that you can travel along to view their burrows and the coast. All told we probably saw 100 penguins or so. They really do look like these really fat and uncoordinated guys in tuxedos. They kind of remind me of Weebles that I had when I was a kid (weebles wobble but they do not fall over). They will be moving along and the ground is not totally flat. They need to negotiate small variations in the ground and they can not move that well so they kind of hop and sometimes they need to hop multiple times and then they will land on their stomachs and then will kind of wiggle and then be able to get upright.They will also move along in these chains that are hilarious to watch, just this chain of penguins negotiating obstacles trying to get to and from their burrows.

I got a little excessive with the picture taking and probably took about 200 shots.I did not get an opportunity to see any chicks but I was able to get really close. I one case the burrow was directly under the boardwalk so I was about 6 inches from my eye as I bent down to the penguins eye. In a couple of other circumstances I was able to get within about 5 feet of them. They do not have any nature predators (at least on land, I do think that Orcas might think of them like Cheetos or a quick little snack to hold themselves over to their next meal but that is about it) so they have no fear of people, you do get this idea that they have no idea why these strange creatures come with these things and point them at them (cameras)but they just go on about there business. All in all, something I was glad to see but now I really want to see the Emperor penguins in Antarctica and one of the really big million bird breeding grounds.

The following day I went and took one of my two options to travel to Ushuaia. I could either fly and take like and hour and a half flight or I could take a 12 hour bus ride. Money was not really an issue. The bus was around $30 and the plane $100 so flying was not really that much more expensive. In many ways I am past the stage in travelling where I am willing to take longer bus rides. A lot of travellers do it and some of them are in the 24-36 hour range and the buses are nice (I took a bus in Peru that was like 18 hours and the seat turned into a bed, we were served really good food, champagne and scotch)I just do not feel like I have much time and would prefer not to spend it on a long bus ride when I can fly and for not much more than the bus costs. The thing about this bus ride is that I have heard that it is very scenic and I decided to take the bus.

Since Punta Arenas is on the Straights of Magellan and this is effectively the end of the South American continent, we would need to take a ferry across the Straights of Magellan to Tierra del Fuego, which we did and in many ways it was just like any other ferry crossing. At the point of the crossing the Straight narrows down to about a mile or so once everything was on board it was a quick crossing. It is just an interesting mental crossing from South America to Tierra del Fuego. This is one of the locations that has fascinated me since I was a kid. Magellan named it the Land of Fire because of all of the fires he saw that the Indians had on shore and for many miles the landscape is very similar to what patagonia looks like, in other words Eastern Oregon. About 6 or 8 hours into the trip we had the border crossing from Chile into Argentina. Most of this area is in Chile but the more populated parts are in Argentina and it was around the time of the boarder crossing that the scenery started to change. We drove down the Atlantic coast for a while and there is an area along the coast where the tide difference between low and high is up to 11 kilometers (about 7 miles) when we were driving though the tide was out about a mile or so and it is the farthest out I have ever seen the tide to be for such an extended area. This has created an area where a lot of animals beach themselves and there is an Estancia east of here, that I will not be able to visit this trip, but has the worlds largest collection of whale skeletons mainly collected from this one area.

As we went south from here we started entering the mountains and for the first time since I have been down here, real forests. These are trees that are actually taller than I am. After several weeks of seeing no tress it is kind of a nice change. We made a stop in a town called something like Techulin. This was an actual town with several thousand residents. We had stopped a few other places and in some cases to change buses are at stations to pickup and drop of passengers, and I had stopped on my other shorter bus rides, in these it was crossroads where there is nothing but a diner or a gas station with a store. There was a small little bakery were we stopped as there are throughout Argentina and most of them are rather good. One other food item that I have developed a taste for down here are Empanadas. Here they are breaded pastries filled with just about everything. Cheese, ham and cheese, meat and onions and all sorts of other things. In many ways they are similar to, but vastly better than Hot Pockets. You find them every wear and even the worst ones are not bad. But when they are good they are really good. Normally I will just point and ask for one or two and as I only know the name for the ham and cheese ones will just take whatever type of filling they have in the ones I get. I asked for two in this bakery and they were filled with a spicy sort of hamburger or sausage and onions. They were good, really good. Now another bus pulled in behind us and there were a lot of people trying to buy things, including some of these. I had to kind of cut in line as they were running short of more of the ones I wanted but I was able to get the last two that they had. In some ways it was good that they only had two as I probably would have bought all of them and eaten all that I bought no matter how painful it was. I was even thinking a while ago that I could rent a car and drive up there and get a couple as it is not more than couple of hours a way.

Once we got back on the bus it was another couple of hours until we got into Ushuaia. Ushuaia is billed as the further most city in world. It sits on Beagle Channel which is navigable between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Beagle Channel was first navigated by the Beagle which is the boat one which Darwin rode and came up with the theory of evolution. This is really kind of the end of Tierra del Fuego. On the other side of the channel is yet another island but very small in comparison to this one (it is the size of South Carolina)and there is a place called Puerto Williams there but it is just really a naval base with a few people living there.

Ushuaia is the jumping off point for most of the boats going to Antarctica. Most of the tourists in town are here for just that purpose. Tourism to Antarctica has really taken off compared with just 10 years ago it was next to impossible to get there. Now there are a large number of ships, most of them Russian, that make the trip. The ships are built for these sorts of conditions and for the $2000-$7000 you too can have a 10 day trip that goes to Antarctica. In many ways the town reminds me a lot of Alaska, it has a similar sort of appearance and attitude about it.

When I got into town I almost paid for one of my habits. I do not tend to book lodging at all and even thought the guide book recommended that you book ahead I of course did not bother. Well, I was lucky enough to find a room for that first night that was a single bed with a private bath but it was only for one night. Now there are plenty of hostel beds available but I am kind of past the point of sleeping with 8 other people if I have a choice (although the $6 a night price is not bad at all). So the next morning I ended up going to the local tourist office and they were able to find a room in a bed and breakfast for me. This is also interesting when I do not really speak Spanish and the family that runs it does not really speak English. They are nice and the room is nice it is just a unique experience. One thing is that they can not believe that I do not want breakfast. Breakfast down here means some bread and coffee. I am sick of bread, even their miniature croissants which are actually pretty good. They do not seem to understand that there are people that do not drink tea or coffee. Right now I would kill for biscuits and gravy or hashbrowns and eggs or next best thing which I will be able to have in a couple of days is the Argentian version of an egg McMuffin at McDonalds.

I have one weird (okay more than one but right now we will focus on this one) habit when I travel and that is that I do have to visit McDonalds in every country I travel in (and almost all do, the only country I have not seen one at all is Cambodia). For some reason I get extreme cravings for the french frys (which I do really like anyway) whenever I am out of the United States. I can tell you that the ones in Singapore have the best iced tea I have ever had. I can also tell you that while the McKrogett sandwich may be a local delicacy in the Netherlands but that only a local could like it. The other thing that I have found out is that the ones in Argentina, or at least Buenos Aires since that is the only place I have seen them, have they best breakfast sandwich in the world (next to b}breakfast bagel sandwiches in New York city). The bread is unique and very good, it is not an English muffin but it is somewhat similar, once I found out about those that has become the only thing I eat for breakfast in Buenos Aires.

It may seem like I talk about food a lot in these but food is very important to a traveler. Most of the time you just eat really bad food. So many of the meals I have eaten when I travel have been absolutely horrid. I was in Cambodia and staying in a place that had a restaurant on the first floor. They had this menu that had something like 15 pages of items. The only problem was that they could not make any of them. To make things worse they would not tell me what they could make, I had to ask item by item to find out what they could make. By the end of my 3 or 4 days there I ended up with about three different items they could make. The only reason I ate there is that there was not a lot of choice.

Here food has been an issue because I do not think I have eaten so well. The food is just really good. Argentina has had several waves of immigrants just like the US did. Early last century they had a lot of Italians come and so the Italian food is excellent, great pastas and pizzas, I have already talked about the steaks. But on the subject of steaks I have a couple of more things to say. In my last post I forgot to mention that I had one of the best dinners in my life at a restaurant called La Tablita in El Calafate. I had heard that they had some of the best steak in the country and so I had to go. I was able to get over there just before they opened and was able to get a reservation. I was really lucky to get in because it is one of the places that the high end tour groups go. I had the best steak of my life there, but everything was great. Had this been in the US I would have paid at least $50.00 for my dinner but including wine I paid A$R61.50 or at todays exchange rate, $21.77. Then when I came to Ushuaia I found something that could keep me hear forever. It is, and they have a couple that compete with each other, an all you can eat steakhouse. For A$R19 or $6.42 you get all you can eat salad bar (the one I ate at last night had this potato salad with chicken or maybe it is chicken salad with potato that I could not stop eating)and then all you can eat beef and chicken. You want a steak you go up to the asador and ask for one, want some ribs, go get them, maybe some chicken or sausage- they are also there. We need these in the US.

The wine has also been great. I still know nothing about their wines, what regions, vintages or wineries or better. All that I know is that I have had some great wine and wine that for $6 a bottle is as good as a $40 Napa. I have had some bad wine too, do not get me wrong but I can handle good $6 a bottle wine.

So, yesterday I went out on a tour of Beagel Channel. It was a gorgeous day. We went out on a smaller boat (there were about 6 passengers and most of the tour boats go out with 50-60) and we were able to land on one of the islands in the channel and also go up to some of the islands that had sea lions and cormorants. All in all a pretty good trip. I also booked a trip for tomorrow. The fly fishing down here is supposed to be incredible and most of the trips that I looked at in the back home were more expensive than I was willing to spend. I was able to get a deal with a guide down here that I think is a little more reasonable. So I go out tomorrow evening with the guide, we will camp overnight and then fish Saturday. It should be fun. After that I have almost all of Sunday here in Ushuaia and then I fly back to Buenos Aires and am there Monday and Tuesday until my late night Tuesday flight to DFW and then PDX.

So this is pretty much the end of my trip. I have really enjoyed it. It has been quite the experience and I still have some more to go.


November 24, 2004

Well, I leave Argentina tonight for the US. I must say that a part of me is disappointed that I have to go. There is a part of me that would like to be like one of the types of travelers that I met. Most are in there early 20´s and they have just graduated college, they don´t have jobs yet. Or they graduated, go their first job and hated it. They travel anywhere from 6 months to about 18 months (although I did meet one women who had been travelling for 3 years). There is a part of this life that dopes really appeal to me. On the other hand none of them have mortgages, which unfortunately complicates any ability of doing that.

On the other hand, I am really glad to be going home. I am tired of travelling, the whole moving every couple of days, making travel arrangements and trying to see everything that I want while not speaking the language is rather stressful. I am also sick of the French and Italian travellers. Not all of them but about 95% of them. There is something that I do not at all like about the relatively successful, middle-aged Italian and French tourist. They are rude and pushy and I am at my breaking point dealing with them. I almost had words with a few on the airline flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires the other day. Fortunately, while there are a lot of them in Buenos Aires it is a huge city and therefore I don´t have to deal with them as much as I did in the more tourist oriented areas that I have been in lately. I have been good this trip and have been able to be polite to everyone and not come across as an ugly American.