The truth is I never left Chile! Yes that’s right, I think I’m having Chile withdrawals. We disembarked in Ushuaia yesterday morning and, due to Aerolineas schedule changes, had to fly out the same day to Trelew. There we thought we’d get to look around a bit but the transfer to Puerto Madryn was almost immediate. We caught a toyota coaster bus, not unlike the one Mum did tours in Cooktown in when we were kids, the bus followed a long straight highway past massive wind generators and local jails it seemed to be without so much as a turn for at least an hour and a half. Would you believe it – husband thought this country also looked like Julia Creek. Julia Creek isnt sounding that unique anymore is it?
Anyway checked in to our hotel and, to be honest, we were glad we didnt have all three nights reserved. We immediately set about finding something a little more comfortable and after finding a nice little place just down the road to move into tomorrow, we found a dive shop to make some reservations and a pizza joint for dinner and went back to our not so good room to sleep.
Today was a little brighter – there are two lovely girls at reception and we managed to get into our room almost as soon as we had checked out of the other one. On the down side, for siesta this afternoon it sounded like mum and dad had left the kids to create havoc in the room next door. I called downstairs and the noise soon abated! Dont mess with me little Julio! Perhaps he was sent to one of those lovely prison farms we passed on the way here from Trelew. We never saw him again!
So what do I miss about Chile? The fact that cars actually stop when you are standing at a crossing, (whether you want to cross or not); in Magellenica the people smiled at us when we walk into the shops and one lady who served us something kindly gave me a penguin with a missing beak! I love that he is the underdog so he sits on my table each night keeping watch as we sleep; the fact that we have endured some of the most extreme weather and made some great friends whom we hope to see again soon also made it a little hard to leave. During these extremes we still managed to sight see and hike (that includes the heat in Santiago and the horizontal sleet in Torres del Paine, and the freezing rain on the steep climb at Cape Horn). I also miss the language would you believe – suddenly we have left Glasgow and landed in the middle of Welsh Patagonia where the menus are different again! I think this time we could compare the language to Country Irish (with a mixture of Welsh) and we even went to a Welsh bar (unintentionally) last night. In addition to missing Chile I still miss my salad and vegetables from home. It seems that vegetables are seen as an unnecessary evil in these parts. I almost have to beg for some greenery on my plate!
You may recall that this stop in Puerto Madryn was necessary so that my beloved could scuba dive with sea lions. Personally, I was on again off again about snorfelling with them. That documentary we saw showing the orca’s teaching their young how to swim into the beach and eat the sea lions at Peninsular Valdes may well have had something to do with my trepidation. We were afterall on the South side of Peninsular Valdes! Then that mantra I had repeated played in my head one more time – and I remembered the regret I had after I didnt go on the ride in Disneyland and everyone said how much fun it was. So, orca or no orca, I signed myself up for a dip in the freezing cold Patagonian waters so I could snorfel with sea lions whilst my beloved blew bubbles from below. I would not regret sitting this one out!
We were up early which surprised me given the fact that we couldnt get our dinner last night before 10pm. After wandering aimlessly seeking an open restaurant I had purchased a nice little handmade leather bag at the night markets we had stumbled across (concerns were raised by husband that I may not have a need for another bag when I return home as I have so many – good grief has he learned nothing in our 23 years of marriage – one can never have too many bags (oh thats right thats meant to be shoes!) Oh well.
Anyway we made it down to breakfast in time to view a vast array of cakes and sugar coated cereals, hiding amongst the pancakes and sweetened fruit. We both managed a te negra con leche (black tea with milk) and I snuck in a sugar coated croissant. Off we headed along the shorefront on one of the most beautiful days we had struck. If we could have planned perfection we would have planned this day. So at the scuba shop I found myself a little hot once suited up in double layer 7mm wetsuits. We climbed a manmade sandwall and climbed into the boat for a trip across beautiful calm waters passing the comerant colonies and large caves in the fairly desolate looking coast line. Yep you guessed it, if Julia Creek was on the Ocean apparantly this is what it would look like! We were glad we hadnt bothered to go driving around here yesterday as we could see the lookout where all the tourists were taken to view the sea lions from the land.
Finally we dropped anchor and I found myself swimming amongst schools of sea lions. The trouble is they were better at holding their breath than I so they would pop their heads up and then go down very rapidly, I would tread water with my mask off wondering where the head was going to pop up again. To begin with while this is going on I can here the jaws music in the back of my mind and I could see the orcas in my imagination. As a few minutes went by I could see my husband below and I started to relax a little, the sea lions kept brushing past me rubbing my leg like a puppy dog would if I was sitting on the lounge. One finally decided to lay down in front of me and let me rub his belly. I do not regret this trip at all!
On the way back the divers had another stop at a shipwreck which was in reasonably shallow water. Rather than sit out and get bored I was offered another snorfel. This seemed all right but alone again I could hear the jaws music playing in my head – in addition to seeing Jeffrey Rush come swimming up in Pirates of the Carribean! So the nice young lady driving the boat said hold on, I’ll come with you it can be a bit scarey swimming around a wreck alone. She quickly grabbed a snorfel and mask and fins and jumped in and escorted me all around the circumference and over the top of the deeper parts of the wreck – so now I have not only snorfelled with sea lions I am also an experienced wreck snorfeller!
My beloved was thrilled, the sea lions loved him, they may have found him quite attractive I feel, they were biting his hand playfully and throwing somersaults in front of him as he cruised along below me. This was definitely a day to remember! Thank you Argentina!