Thursday, January 11, 2007

...and so

...the story continues.
We arrived in El Calefate after many many hours on the bus.
It seems the only reason that people come to El Calefate for is to look at the enormous glacier, say ahh, watch bits fall off, take some photos and then get the hell out of the town as it is superficial and hugely expensive. We did exactly that but I have to say that the glacier was absolutely amazing and worth the huge price you have to pay to get even a cheap look at it. I also made time for some more ice cream eating and some jewelery shopping (of course!).
Then to El Chalten for some serious hiking... I arrived in El Chalten alone (Rich was to arrive later that day, leaving me to organise (!!) a hostel for the night) and to step off the bus into a face full of freezing rain, surrounded by serious hikers all wearing more 'technical' clothing than is nessecery for a space trip to the moon; where as almost everything I was now wearing had been knitted and bought in Bolivia- i was wearing just about every possible colour/design/pattern of alpaca wool its possible to buy, wasn't a great start- even better that I had no map and no hostel reservation. So, being the resourceful person I am I followed the friendliest group of people to a hostel and checked in there.
El Chalten town is nothing to write about, in fact I could so far as to say it is possibly the uglyist most souless place i've ever been. I found out later that it had in fact only been built after a border dispute with Chile and was not even 20 years old, all the buildings resemble prefabricated garden sheds with corrugated metal roofs. There is no town centre and didn't even appear to be any locals, simply tourists and those people that sell things to tourists... Nevertheless, the views of the mountains once the fog and rain clear are supposed to be amazing- the only question now, when will the cloud lift. I spent the entire first day hanging out in the hostel which was reminiscent of a big comfy ski lodge, drinking hot chocolate and chatting. Rich arrived later and organised a walking map and the destination of tomorrows walk.
We spent the next five days walking through the national park of glaciers and it was very beautiful and peaceful but unfortunately we never had a day clear enough to see the top of the most famous mountain (Fitz Roy). Almost on many occasions we would reach the specified view point just as cloud and snow were closing in around us and have to retreat back down the mountain and most frustratingly on the one occasion we got closest to seeing the summit my digital camera took the opportunity to die! I was more than a little cross about this and it also means i've gone all old school and am now using 35mm film for the rest of my trip so you will have to use your imagination and look at my photos once i'm home.
I stayed in El Chalten until just before christmas before taking the bus all the way up to Buenos Aires- this meant 40 hours straight on the bus (for reasons I'm still unable to fathom Rich elected not to sit beside me!! obviously nothing to do with my irritating hyperactivity).


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