Eighth Watsoversary – Ushuaia, Calafate, Chalten

My time in Argentina is wrapping up, but I couldn’t say my goodbyes without exploring outside the capital. So I set aside seven days to visit Argentina’s Patagonia.

U S H U A I A
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My journey began at 3am on the 15th. A night bus, an airport shuttle, and a flight later I arrived at Ushuaia, located at Tierra del Fiego. It’s the most southern city in South America and therefore considered the end of the world.

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While I was there I visited the National Park and walked on a couple of short distance treks alongside the Beagle Canal.

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My favorite area was the Laguna Negra, a dark lake hidden among the trees and surrounded by the snowy mountains. I ate my packed lunch there by myself, enjoying the stillness of it all. Back at the hostel, I befriended my Argentinian roommates and together we ate a picada (tray of assorted cheeses and meats), drank beer, and played games for hours.

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The following day, Ushuaia was spinkled with snow. I stayed at the hostel until one of the best moments of my life arrived: my trip to a penguin island! Every year, Magellanic and Papua penguins arrive at Isla Martillo to have their babies. They only stay until the end of March, which is the only reason Ushuaia was the first city on my trip.

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To get to the island, we first make an hour and a half bus trip but on that day, a protest was blocking the only road out of Ushuaia. Townspeople were protesting a new law that would make cuts from government workers’ paychecks to pay for retirees (begins at around age 50 in Ushuaia). To bypass the protest, we were driven to the edge of town, walked on foot past the protest, and climbed on another bus waiting for us at the other side.

Fifteen minutes on a speedboat and we reached the penguins. They just kept doing their thing while we were there. Swimming, walking with friends, sleeping on their belly, standing next to their partner for the season, hiding in their nests. About 20 minutes after our arrival, we were surprised by hail, which I took to the face to score some nice selfies with the penguins.

 

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So  E x c i t e d
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There was a random King penguin chillin in the middle of a group of Papua penguins. We were told he is “in love” with a female Papua because he’s been visiting the island for the past three years during mating season. Female Papusa want a healthy egg so they blow him off (no cross-breeding possible). In my opinion, this isn’t a love story, but shows the subtle ways in which we romanticize stalking and harassment–and shall I say, naturalize it by imposing it upon the animal kingdom. #YesAllWomenANDFemalePenguins
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After leaving the island, we dried off for a bit, and enjoyed some tartas (cake) and hot chocolate at a small cafe before shortly visiting a museum exhibiting whale skeletons.

 

 

C A LA F A T E

The following day I flew to Calafate. This town is a lot smaller than Ushuaia, but maybe more beautiful because it borders Lake Argentino, whose water is the prettiest blue I’ve ever seen. The bright blue color then makes the mountains appear a soft purple all day long.

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I visited the famous Perito Moreno glacier on the 19th, where I spent three hours gazing at it along the platforms. I kept thinking how 8 months ago I never could’ve guessed I would be there. This entire trip has been an incredible journey that has slowly unfolded wonderful surprises along the way. I have never been so in touch with myself and what I want and just know that I’m changing in ways I can’t even comprehend at the moment.

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The top of the tunnel fell through a couple of days before my arrival, it happens every four years.

I befriended lots of people on this day. During the tour, I met a man and his mother who took many pictures of me and let me drink mate with them. Later that evening I walked around town with 3 women I met at the hostel. The three were from Buenos Aires and were traveling alone for the first time. We walked alongside Lake Argentino, had fun with selfie sticks at a wooden playground, had dinner, and even spent some time at the casino.

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C H A L T E N

I got on an early bus the next morning and reached Chalten at around noon. This was definitely a pueblo. It was founded only 30 years ago and is found inside Los Glaciares National Park. My plan upon arrival was to drop of my stuff at the hostel, have some lunch, and then head out for one of the shorter treks (6 hours) on the Fitz Roy Mountains. But after the bus ride, my body was in a slump and the winds were wild so I ate 3 delicious empanadas and just napped…

The following day I headed to the largest glacier in Argentina, el Glaciar Viedma. To reach the glacier my fellow tour compañeros and I climbed over volcanic rock, bright with color and then put on a set of spiky platforms when we reached the front of the glacier.

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There were beautiful dips all around holding brilliant blues within. Water flowed in small canals or pooled inside holes big and small. After passing an awesome (but slippery) tunnel, we were served Baileys over the glacier ice, a great ending to the two hour trek!

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Afterwards, I did do some trekking, but only a short 2h one because I didn’t have much time before the sun fell down. It was a beautiful day and Cerro Fitz Roy was  visible unlike the day before.

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Made it to the top!
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The travel back was long and tiring. The bus back to Calafate broke down half-way but luckliy an empty bus headed that way passed us and gave us a ride. I waited around 4 hours at the airport for the 3 hour flight back to Buenos Aires. Then I remembered how much I HATE Buenos Aires buses as I waited about 30 minutes for the one I needed. I made it home around 9 and collapsed on my bed.

 

I’m so excited about my life right now and want this last part of my journey to be just as full and wild as it has been.

Here’s to four more months!_MG_9936

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