Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Puerta Madryn - Patagonia

It feels a while since we were last in touch but i'm sure it's not that long really. It just feels longer to me, having to endure those long bus rides. And not only endure the ride, but then not being sure what state my bag was in. You remember the last debacle? With the water? Well, guess what? Groundhog day, the bloody bag was wet again when I arrived in Puerta Madryn. I was a little slow off the mark learning my lesson here. Too long out of the travelling loop. But tonight, when I embark on my mammoth 24 hours combined journey, I will make sure that I put my bag on last, on top of all the others. So it's not my bag that collects all the water swishing about under the bus. That said, I was just glad to arrive. We left Mar del Plata at 9.40pm and within half an hour, the bus had trundled to a stop at the side of the road, the engine stopped, the lights went out, and with them the air conditioning. A few remarks were made in Spanish, nothing of which I could decipher. None of my fellow passengers seemed to be moving or making much of a fuss so I decided just to sit tight. And by the wonders of a bit of banging around in the engine, we were back on our way within the hour.

I have really enjoyed my 4 nights in Puerta Madryn. A seaside place with a great feel to it. The first day was spent doing laundry (the wet bag left me with wet clothes) and investigating the town and beach. I did a great walk along the coast, amongst sand dunes, finding perfect isolated spots to rest and sunbathe. The second day was a shock as I awoke to massive thunderstorms and a wet day where I just mooched around town cafe hopping.

Day 3 was a great little tour to the Punta Tombo reserve, home to the largest penguin colony outside of Antarctica, some 800,000 of the little buggers just running around, seemingly having the time of their life. We were able to walk right amongst them, providing some brilliant photo opportunities. Not since Philip Island in Melbourne had I seen so many penguins.

On the way back from the reserve we also called into the little Welsh town of Gaiman. Yes, I did say Welsh. It's one of the little oddities of Patagonia that there are still pockets of Welsh villages with Welsh speaking locals. A hangover from when the Welsh first settled Patagonia all those years ago. A very odd experience, calling into a Welsh teahouse and seeing all the Welsh pictures, flags and teatowels hanging from the walls. It was a long day all in, but a very enjoyable one.

On the last night in the hostel I had plans to go out for dinner to a Mexican that I had found. However, I soon found out that there was an asado planned that night. An asado is a traditional Argentinian BBQ so I was definitely up for that. And it was a great night. As much steak, sausages and salad that you could get down your neck. Washed down with copious amounts of Malbec. Even the cheap stuff tastes good. There was a good crowd of us from the hostel, a mix of English, Dutch, Brazilian and Argentinian having the BBQ and it turned to be a lot of fun.

The Argentinians were kindly passing round one of their favourite alcoholic drinks, Fernet with coke. Now, don't ask me why they started drinking this as Fernet is from Italy, but they sure like to knock back a lot of the stuff. I tried the “with coca cola” and it wasn't unpleasant. And I also tried a shot of the stuff on it's own that I am sure would have done me more good had I had a very bad chesty cough!

And now, I say goodbye to Puerta Madryn and begin the long trek further south. I'm heading to El Calafate, home to one of the largest glaciers in the world. Should be good, when I eventually get there! A 17 hour overnight bus to Rio Gallegos and then I need to get another bus from there which will be another 5 hours. This is one hell of a big country, ha ha.

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