Ice, Ice, Baby
EL CALAFATE, ARGENTINA: January 10-12
Steve: During our stay in Ushuaia we planned ahead (shocker) and opted to take a flight to our next destination, El Calafate, rather than deal with the time and hassle of crossing borders with a bus. Fede2 and Candice had done the legwork previously and found that flying with LADE airlines (this is an acronym for Lineas Aereas del Estado which literally translates to “state airlines”) was only slightly more expensive than taking a bus; throw in the fact that the flight was supposed to be two-and-a-half hours to the bus’ twenty-four billion and we were sold.
Fast forward to the next day and Leah and I get to the airport early (another shocker). I’m sure you already figured out by now that I went into detail on Fede2 and Candice’s ordeal because we were about to have an exact replica of their day. As the clock ticked away and fellow passengers joined the queue, we all stood wondering where the LADE rep could be. They nonchalantly made an announcement that we would be going through the whole bus-plane-bus rigmarole which made some of the other passengers livid. At this point Leah and I knew there was no use complaining, we would have to make the best out of the situation…even if it included a tiny turbo-prop flying us over the southern Atlantic.
rainbow completely encircling the shadow our plane etched on the clouds. I’m sure there’s a very scientific explanation for what I witnessed, but I have never in 31 years seen anything like it and if you’ve been reading our blog, you know that signs like these keep appearing just when we need them most. So, thank you, dear angels, for providing me with a much-needed modicum of comfort and relief.
Steve: The rest of our trip to El Calafate was uneventful so I’ll spare the details. Even though we arrived at the bus terminal at 1 AM, only a few hours (8 to be exact) later than our scheduled arrival, we were able to contact our CouchSurfing host and found ourselves safely housed in no time. Leo, whom we were in contact with because he had previously hosted Megan and Taryn, is a friendly Argentine chef who spoke English well due to having lived and worked in Miami for several years. We hit it off right away seeing as how he pretty much have identical CD collections and we had many similar concert stories to recount.
The bus dropped us off at a visitor’s center where we could descend a series of steel-floored catwalks to get an up-close and personal view of this majestic feat of nature. We were able to get amazingly close to the roughly 240 foot spires of blue and white ice; in total the glacier covers about 97 square miles, being approximately 3 miles wide and 19 miles long. From time to time you could hear thunderous moaning as the glacier cracked and calved within its incredible mass. The weather alternated from sunny with blue skies to cloudy and windy with cold rain pelting our faces, however we were so awestruck that we withstood the weather in the hopes of getting a glimpse of ice calving and falling into the adjacent Lago Argentino. We were not to be disappointed as we watched massive chunks of the glacier break off and cascade to the lake creating an incredible display of waterworks—for all you at home we lucked out and were able to catch one of the smaller ones on video (click HERE).
Antares out of Mar de Plata (don’t worry Stone and Mission Brewery, you’re still my faves). (Leah: It would prove to be an eventful last morning, as an earthquake strong enough to rattle me from sleep and shake all of Leo's kitchen implements jarred me awake) It was a pleasant end to our visit to Patagonia before heading out on a thirty-hour bus ride to Bariloche, where we spent the night before crossing into Chile. There have been ups and downs in Argentina, as there have been with all countries, but we will always remember the warmth and hospitality of our CouchSurfing and WorkAway hosts. Until we meet again Argentina (and we will), hasta luego…