Tuesday, September 16, 2014


After utilizing every mode of transportation imaginable, we made it to the end of the Earth in Chile's Southern most region of Patagonia. When you come to Patagonia, you expect ice, snow, general coldness, and strange creatures. However what we didn't anticipate was the wind. So much wind coming from every direction, strong wind, fast wind, sideways wind, cold wind, wind with rain, and wind that can literally make you fly. 

Upon arriving to Punta Arenas, we rented a car and rushed to Puerto Natales, only to discover that Torres del Paine is another two hours North. So we bundled up by the heater and settled in for the night. 

The following day we drove through the impressively well-maintained windy unpaved roads of the national park. Along the way we passed countless lakes of various blues, greens, and grays. We learned about the sediments and volcanic processes that make water glow and form in beautifully vibrant colors.  Scattered around the park we also saw hundreds of rheas (the largest South American flightless bird) and Guanacos (a camel-llama like animal or a llamel). We also pondered the behavior of the upland geese, whom all seemed to be partnered off and traveling in couples. 

We ended the day on an epic note as we stood in front of Grey Lake admiring the tip of the glacier and hundreds of icebergs that eased their way into the skyscape, framed by the rugged peaks of Paine Massif. Not much can make you feel quite as insignificant and simultaneously guilty as witnessing the side effects of Climate Change first hand, while watching the ice melt before your eyes in a land that would have once been immersed in snow.

After several hours of battling the wind we said goodbye to the UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site to find shelter and escape the fierce weather. 

Then after some serious debate about our limited options, we decided penguins were our top priority. So began our two day journey to Tierra del Fuego to see the well-hidden Parque Pinguino Rey (colony of King penguins). Watching the penguins interact with one another in their natural habitat, despite the prevailing winds carrying temperatures below freezing was undoubtedly worth the obstacles we overcame and sacrifices we made to get there. Witnessing their sharp coloring and playful personalities combined with their total disregard for the humans examining them was truly an experience of a lifetime.

Not much else of noteworthiness occurred during our visit. I will leave Chile with the memory of wonderful cuisine, landscapes and people, but the frustration of small disasters that could have been easily averted by better use of street signs.

Torres del Paine National Park:

Parque Pinguino Rey:
Penguins check their pits too
marital problems
note the upland geese date in the background

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