Gone to Patagonia
Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
45Trip End Jan 20, 2008
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I was always impressed with that, and wanted to do it myself, but there were difficulties. For a start, telegrams no longer exist. It would have had to have been an email. And then it would have changed - the "stop" would have gone, for a start. It would have been more along the lines of "Hi, Rob. I'm not coming in today, or ever again, because I've gone to Patagonia. Cheers, Matt". And I hadn't gone to Patagonia by then, either. But Quito doesn't sound quite as good - indeed the whole email lacks the succinct charm of Chatwin's original. And then, of course, there are all the boring reasons like wanting a reference, not wanting to leave ex-colleagues with too many problems, and so on. So I resigned in the usual way. Shame.
Next day, a stop in Santa Cruz, visiting the Museo de Colchagua. Founded by a former arms dealer, who is trying to reinvent himself as a philanthropist, it is interesting, although the section on the history of weaponry seems to contain a disturbingly large amount of Nazi memorablia. Herman Goerring's hunting knife, for example. Hmmm.
Then onto Pucon. That is a fantastic town. Lively, picturesque, interesting. So what does a sedentary chap like me do there? Climb a volcano, obviously. Yes, a volcano. An active one. Well, when I say climb, it probably wasn't that difficult. No ropes and so on. More a gentle stroll, really
One more night stop, in Valdivia (drinking until four, using YouTube as a jukebox), then on to Puerto Montt, for the Navimag ferry - four of us leaving the bus. Me, Ingo from Germany, Letitia from Switzerland and Elizabeth from Austria (Vienna, in fact, although this means nothing to me). Down to Patagonia. Through some of the most amazing scenery I've ever seen. Mountains, islands. Even a rainbow right across the sky on the last day.
Patagonia, of course, is cold. A harsh wind that eroded the mountains cuts into your skin. It adds to the atmosphere - this isn't really a place to be enjoyed whilst sipping cocktails. Suffer for the beauty. Raw, red face from the wind, slowly developing skin cancer from the excess in UV rays coming through the hole in the ozone layer directly overhead
Puerto Natales itself is full of people getting ready to do large treks. Never before have there been so many people who aren't students buying instant meals in supermarkets. Rice, noodles - anything that just requires boiling water. All to spend a few days (or more) in Parque Nacional Torres Del Paine. But then, Torres Del Paine is surely worth a few days of grotesque student Pot Noodles. Rivers, glaciers, mountains, guanaco - even Puma. And we saw one! Fantastic! Incredibly rare, hardly ever seen, but there it was. Some distance off, admittedly. I was hoping it would come up to us, purring, and start rubbing its head against my leg. It didn't. Just sat there. Cool. Impeturbable. Occasionally glancing at us, asking "What are you looking at?". Wow.
One more thing - all the icebergs that had broken from the glaciers were blue. Why is this? Something, I imagine, to do with the refractive index of ice. But then, why aren't ice-cubes blue? Eh? Explain that one, so-called secular scientists. Ha!