Some days were so eventful, I can barely keep up with the amount of activity we packed into a single twenty-four hour period. Then there were others where the number of items accomplished were low, but the amazement was still nothing less than an eleven on a scale of one to ten.
This day was like that. We mostly sat on a bus, so how epic could that be? But taking the bus from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine national park was beautiful. True, some of it was dry, yellow steppe for as far as well could see.
We passed small memorials to a local saint. Deolinda Correa was a woman who followed her husband soldier to the front lines, way in the North. She had recently given birth, and carried her infant son with her. Unable to keep up with her husband, she fell behind, and eventually died of thirst.
However, when her body was found, the infant was still alive, as if she were still feeding her son. Hence, at all the shrines, piles of water bottles lay there, sometimes organized, sometimes not. We stopped, and many of us poured water into the extant bottles as our own form of saying thanks for the good weather.
Claim to fame. It is also the capital of that particular province, Ultima Esperanza, which means: Last Hope. So, you know, lots of optimism here.
We stopped along the highway in another nowhere town. They served real coffee, not the No-es-cafe (as the guides called it) that was served in most of Patagonia. We stocked up on cookies and Toblerone (or at least, I did). After so many hours on the bus, I couldn’t take it anymore, so in the little concrete patch in front of the store, I did some yoga in my hiking boots, audience be damned. It did make me feel better, and it seemed that everyone just politely ignored me.
A few in our group had a hard time pronouncing guanacos, so they just called them Quanticos, because if you know Leroy Jethro Gibbs, it makes perfect sense.
The correct pronunciation of guanaco is won-AH-co. Which is not nearly as fun as Quantico.
Finally the mountains came into clear view. The clouds surrounded the peaks, moving fast, keeping the pictures ever-changing. We drove in through the front entrance, and got to see the first hotel in the park, on an island in the middle of a gorgeous blue glacier lake. A condor playing on the thermals overhead, and the mountains kept their distance. It was beautiful.
In some ways, the day really reminded me of Alaska, another place with expansive vistas and a lot of land. Just like today, if one wants to see Denali, a long bus ride or train ride is in order. It is easy for people to complain about that sort of situation if one is accustomed to the ease of life in the heart of the infrastructure. But places like Alaska and Patagonia don’t have much infrastructure. It isn’t an easy place to live, and isn’t that one of the reasons why people find it interesting to travel to these places? Because of its remoteness?
We took a few mile hike along the way, getting up close and personal with the guanacos who really did not care about our proximity. Someone said they looked noble, but…I’m not so sure.
We arrived to our hotel, Lagos Grey, right in front of the Grey Glacier, and with a spectacular view of the massif in front of us.
It was hard for me to carry on a conversation at dinner because I just stared out the window at the mountains the entire time.
Wine? Sure. Have you seen this? Food? Sounds great. No seriously, look at that. Incredible.
And now? A bunch of mountain pictures that I didn’t have room for in my narrative: