Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The bits usually edited...

After leaving Puerto Madryn we headed just down the road to Trelew, well known as where the welsh settlers landed. I was expecting cute picturesque villages, welsh voices and a proper cup of tea- our guide book being rather scant on information, we had made up our own impressions- what we arrived in was a smallish city, typically south american, no map of the city centre and (only after an hour of walking in the midday sun did we find this out) no hostels. We checked into the cheapest hotel we could find, thats when i realised i actually had a map in my guide book, cue guilty apologies from me to Rich for my minor strop and whinging in the preceeding hour as he couldn't find anywhere suitable to stay and my bag was too heavy (!! oops)- He took it well and we headed off to find some lunch as we were both starving.
We ate at one of the restaurants recommended by the lonely planet- oh when, oh when, will we learn that that usually means that they will be totally crap; we ate soggy, tasteless pizza and didn't leave a tip. After lunch we went to find how we could visit the nearby penguin colony (our reason for visiting Trelew in the first place), only to find that all the travel agents were closed on saturday afternoons (thats a bit of welsh logic for you- the only welsh influence we had yet to see in the town).
So in desparation we headed to the tourist information, where the helpful assistant told us that we had just missed this afternoons trip but we could go tomorrow and arrive back between 7 and 7.30pm. The only problem was that our bus left at 7.30 and there was absolutely no way either of us were going to stay another night in this depressing town, what to do? We went to a cafe to discuss it, except we couldn't find a cafe so we sat in the plaza instead.
After some diliberation and many embarassingly poor attempts to ring the tour agencies on their out of hours numbers we decided to risk it and take the afternoon tour tomorrow. Then we spent the afternoon in the dinosaur museum (patagonia has a wealth of rare mid jurassic fossils, interestingly enough)- i touched a real petrified dino bone (is that just a big bit of stone then?- i wasn't sure) and Rich spent the afternoon taking photos of the amusing cartoons that illustrated the displays; then we watched a documentary about digging up fossils! fun all round then.
The following morning (sunday), it was even more difficult to find anywhere open- we ate suprisingly good pastries in the plaza again and just hung out in the one cafe we found open before heading off to the penguin colony in the afternoon.
And this was definately worth it, our driver tld us that there were about 100,000 breeding couples in the colony and it is chick time at present. We were able to wander, almost where ever we wanted around the colony and under virtually every bush was a parent penguin and chick, and all around they were wobbling along looking like toddlers taking their first steps, we could watch from the small cliffs as masses of them waddled into the swim and frolicked in the waves in search of fish. I spent the majority of the time trying to take the perfect photo only to have each bird move at the crucial time, very annoying!
We headed back and with luck were in plenty of time for the bus- we then spent the next 18 hours on a bus. We passed the most boring monotonous scenery, miles and miles of flat plains with no interesting vegetation and certainly no animals to look at- kind of nuclear winter-esque, pretty huh? The junk food i ate contained enough e numbers to keep a class of small children awake for at least 3 days, consequently after 12 hours or so i was bouncing off the walls and acting very childishly indeed; great fun for Rich, who unfortunately for him, was sat beside me for the entire journey. He showed great restraint and managed not to kill me so we both arrived in Rio Gallegos fresh and ready (!) for our next journey of 5 hours to finally reach our destination. El Calefate.


Anonymous Graham said...

Crikey Katie, 9 months in South America - I'm impressed! Of course I'm not jealous - been vicariously enjoying your trip through the photos, anecdotes and self-deprecating humour. Keep it up and Happy Christmas.

4:08 AM  

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