Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Little Trekking

Patagonia WaterscapeAs the group at the hostel got to know each other, groups formed and plans were made. I came and went with different groups on different excursions. You didn't have to travel far outside of town to see amazing beauty. Renting a car for a day, I traveled with a British Pakistani girl (who's boyfriend is an amazing photographer) and traveled scenic route 247. The road winds through the rocky foothills of the Andes mountains, over rivers and past waterfalls.

The next day, I hired a guide to to take me up into the mountains on horse back. It was very cheap, and I met a nice couple from Australia. The woman had a hard time keeping up with the group, and her husband fell off once himself. It rained for a lot of the ride, and the sky was overcast, putting a damper on my picture taking. Nonetheless it was a good time, and I had my guide snap a shot of me on horseback.

Next I met Broos and Felix, who remained my traveling companions for the rest of my time in Patagonia. These two Dutchmen were med school students who saved their money for two years in order to travel South America for a whole year. Argentina was their last stop and I was lucky to meet them. They were crazy in every sense of the word, more vulgar than any sailor I'd ever met, yet kind and polite to everyone they met. They were, all around, great people to go on an adventure with, and that is what we did.


Our first trip took us Southwest towards Chile. The group took up two rental cars of people, but we lost the other car before we even left the city. Our plan was to visit the Black Glacier, to the west. Our group got lost and ended up instead in Rio Manso on the border of Chile. It was a tiny place inhabited only by farmers and herders living miles apart. It was absolutely the most scenic place that I have yet to see in my travels. We liked it so much, we decided not to go back that night. Instead we followed signs to a tiny farmhouse advertising cabins for rent. There we met a man and his wife who I don't think see other people often. They rented us their spare cabin, which sat right next to an icy mountain stream that spanned maybe 35 feet. Before dinner we started the fire blazing, striped and jumped in. Someone has pictures, but not me. Hopefully they never surface.

Rio Manso II
Road to Rio Manso

The HerdWhile dinner was cooking, the farmer took me on a tour of his farm. He took special pride in his dog, who responded to whistles of different pitches in different ways. The dog himself was ever so happy to oblige and took to chasing sheep all over the place, until the farmer decided it was time to stop harassing the sheep and feed them.

Later that night, as we ate our dinner, the farmer's wife brought us fresh milk from their cow, and hot water for tea. As we sat eating, we started to hatch a plan for the ultimate trek. We would begin the next day, hike across the Andes mountains and into Chile. It would be cold and hard and it would prove our manhood. We didn't know how we were going to do it, but we would buy supplies the next morning and start that very afternoon. I went outside to take some long exposure shots, and then we went to bed with dreams of conquering mountains the next day.

Rio Manso by Night