Monday, December 24, 2007

Feliz Navidad from Argentina

It is the morning of Christmas eve and we’re sitting in camp. The camp is in El Calafate, Agentina and sits across the gravel road from a tiny fairground. Over the holiday season, nights are filled with the sounds of children screaming while going in circles on rusty machines that sound like dying dogs. There are also the typical ‘carnival’ games to win cheap toys made in China. The main difference is that they are all made out of things one might find at the local dump. Kick the soccer ball and knock over the rusty bent cans of paint… Toss the hoop onto the lead filled cigarette box with a stick taped to its side… throw the ping pong ball and knock over the cigarette boxes…

Last night was a beautiful meal of oso buco [which only costs $5 per lb at the local carniceria], one of our favorite dishes, cooked slowly over the smoky “carbon” with some local potatoes and squash on the “paradilla”. Combined with some wine and a trip down the main street of town, the trip is at another high point. It had been getting ever better since we left home, with our stop in Santiago, Chile to pick up friends and then our flight South to Punta Arenas, where we picked up an SUV and began our part-time camping, part-time hosteria jaunt into the Chilean Andes, to Parque Naçional Torres Del Paine and our next stop is Parque Naçional de Los Glaciares to see the Moreno Glacier, Cerro Torre, and the mighty Fitz Roy.

Problem is, our second tire went flat in the night, and as the first tire went flat two days ago we are out of spares… so we are hanging out in the camp hoping the shop down the street can repair our tires. We’ve already packed the tent, having planned on staying at a hotel tonight, but who knows at this point… the word on the street is that it is a tradition to shoot off fireworks to mark the occasion on Christmas Eve, so that should be interesting.

Regardless, we’ll make the most of it. There’s not much to complain about here—the food is fantastic, the beer and wine are great, people are very hospitable, and the exchange rate is great. We have good company, music, electrical outlets, hot showers, sinks for washing clothes and dishes, and we are dry. What more could you ask for, really?

Critters spotted: Eagles, penguins, condors, guanacos, lesser rhea, ibis, rabbits, skunks, and more dogs that we can count...
Peaks bagged: 1
Tires punctured: 2
Countries visited: 2

Gotta run--it's time to start cooking the meat! A very Happy Christmas to everyone!


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