Buenos Aires

Travel in Patagonia

The blog of another writer living in Buenos Aires offered a post recently about life here that concluded: Argentina is a wonderful place for a vacation, but a terrible place to live (paraphrased). I thought about that for a while, considered my experiences here for the last almost two years, taking into account that due to circumstances my life here is about as easy as it can be (just not having to deal with Latin American style bureaucracy increases the pleasant factor fifty percent), and decided that I agree with her, and I don’t have a tenth the problems she has trying to make a permanent life here. Besides, my life here is not permanent. I already know exactly when we will leave, in less than two more years.

Patagonia is at the bottom of the world

But this post is not about life, good, bad, and ugly, in Argentina. I was taken by the idea that, regardless of the horrors attendant to daily life in a city like this, Argentina (and to a much lesser extent Buenos Aires) is a really a fine place for a holiday. Since few, if any, of my readers are likely to ever move to Buenos Aires to live, a case can still be made for a holiday here. I will do it with a few representative photos from the most exciting and beautiful part of this country: Patagonia. A place everybody should see; one of the most strikingly gorgeous land areas on the planet.

The following pictures are a mix of photos taken from five different cameras during a holiday we took to Patagonia last January with friends from Slovakia. I no longer remember who took which picture. (Click the photos to enlarge.)

We began the trip at a working sheep and cattle estancia outside El Calafate (where there is a regional airport), a place at the end of a long, rough dirt road from the town, a road that terminates just over the hill from the estancia because it runs into the border with Chile. It is called Nibepo Aike. This is followed by a photo of the view across the cow pasture from the ranch house, where we slept.

Estancia Nibepo Aike, Patagonia

Pasture view from the estancia

The following four photos were taken in and around the Perito Morena glacier, which is one of the last remaining of the world’s glaciars that is not shrinking dramatically, and no, I don’t know why. Getting up close and personal with a hunk of ice this massive is indescribable, but in particular what cannot be described is the noise. When chunks of ice break off from the face of it, or when the ice cracks, it sounds like canon fire.


Leading edge of the Perito Morena Glacier

To get a better idea of the size of this thing, the cruise boat in the center is over 100 feet long and 3 decks high.

This is how ice makes mountains

Chunk of ice splitting of the front of the glacier

Usually we just heard the canon crack of ice breaking off, but this time we happened to be looking in the right direction as it happened. We were standing with a guide, and when I exclaimed that the chunk looked like it was as big as car, she corrected me that it was actually bigger than house. You can also see the wave it made when it fell into the lake, also deceptive: it’s a wave at least five feet high. For this reason, cruise boats must stay back a prescribed distance.


Trekking on the edge of a glacier

The following set of pictures are from Ushuaia, which is most southern city in the world; it’s nickname is fin del mundo, and it is. We flew south from El Calafate to Ushuaia along the rugged spine of the southern Andes mountains, from where these glaciers come. Ushuaia is very much a frontier town, and a border town — Chile is on the other side of the Beagle channel (named, of course, for Darwin’s ship, which passed through her going around the Horn to the Galapagos). The first photo is Ushuaia from an airplane window, on approach to the airport, which is on a small island in the channel. A dramatic landing, to say the least.

Ushuaia from an airplane window

City of Ushuaia seen from its harbor

You can go anywhere in Argentina and eat meat, and frankly, I have had enough carne of one kind or another to last the rest of my life. Here is a picture of the grill in any Argentine restaurant, although this one is in Ushuaia. Following that is a picture of what we stuffed ourselves with, a speciality of Ushuaia: King Crab. And as you can see, it’s pretty damn kingsize.

Typical grill fare in most Argentine restaurants

The leg span of this crab was 3 feet

From Ushuaia, the next stop south is Antarctica, so it’s pretty far south. We were there in mid-January, which in the southern hemisphere is the equivalent of mid-July in the north. I doubt that it was ever warmer than 55 F while we were there, and very windy. At least we didn’t need one of these when we cruised the Beagle Channel one day.

An icebreaker moored in Ushuaia

Finally on our tour, I have no idea what this is intended to signify, but it is pretty good graffiti all the same.

Ushuaia graffiti

Hope you enjoyed it, and come on down.


12 replies »

      • Do you what’s next on the agenda for you guys? What happens for retirement? I’m not sure how old your wife is, but she’ll eventually stop working, won’t she? Does that mean you’ll settle down at a particular place?

        • The agenda is probably heading for Mexico City after Buenos Aires; I had hoped to have a 1st world respite between two “developing” countries, but that doesn’t look likely. My wife wants to work for at least 7 or 8 more years. (I plan to work for as long as I live, or until my brain stops functioning, whichever goes first.) We will most likely leave BAires in the late spring or early summer of 2012.

          We are not adjusted to life in one place, so don’t know how that will work out in the waning days.

          Maybe Rose and I will start up a decent literary publishing company out of some Mexican beach cottage.

  1. After a coulpe of weeks in Mexico City you would miss Buenos Aires like a lost paradise or something… Believe me.

    • I’ve lived in a few places before Buenos Aires that really were paradise, and they are way ahead of Buenos Aires when it comes to missing places. But I know Mexico and have no illusions about what living there is like. I do know that I will miss the cafes in BA. At least I will only live in Mexico for two years.

      Thank you for visiting this blog and making a comment, Marian.

    • I left out something vital. Food. Unless you want to eat some version of basic carne and three ways of cooking potatoes, Buenos Aires is not the place for food lovers. In spite of Mexico’s notorious and deserved reputation for truly bad things, one thing Mexico does is food — that I look forward to, and that I will not ever miss about Buenos Aires.