Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Navimag Day 3: Where Is This Damn Glacier, I Want To Take A Nap

First things first. When I get to Puerto Natalies I need to buy a comb. My hair is getting some length to it and I am walking around with permanent bed head.

Breakfast and briefing of our stop and shore walk at the village of Puerto Eden started the day. It was going to be nice getting off the boat and on land even for a couple of hours.  The skiffs from town came to pick us up and we were shuttle to shore like a bunch of sheep. However, at no time were we allowed to take off our life jackets. It was sad being referred to as the orange penguins and sadder to see us all obeying like orange dork asses. What a sight really, but like all things beyond your control, you laughed. Like a pack or whatever  you call a bunch of penguins we waddled along the well marked tourist trail. Our guide was excellent pointing out all kinds of different plants, edible and not so much and explaining the life in the town.
It is a town of fisherman and the boat is thier life blood. It goes back and forth twice a week bringing supplies and much needed tourist dollars. This was not a poor town, but middle class in any sense of the word. The fisherman brought in good catch and sold it in Pto Montt and Natalies. The Navimag brought in tourist dollars and they had good lives. There was electricity running from large towers that ran down the mountains into town and each and every house has a satellite dish. The street dogs all looked very well fed whichi is always a good barometer. The people were hospitiable and the walk was pleasant and of course the views were amazing.

Next up, the 5 hour cruise to the Southern Patagonia Ice field and Pio XI, South Americas largest glacier but first an amazing roast beef lunch to which I got a piece twice the size of most people not making me the life of the party. I ate it pretty damn fast and headed out to my second home on the ship, the outside deck.
I thought that being inside reading, drinking or just looking out the windows defeated the purpose of being on this ship. This is only my opinion about my experience. I wanted to be outside and outside I went.

Outside Kashia was taking more photos so we hung out and talked for a while. A little while later Marci showed up and off we went. Telling life and travel storys (they are from Poland) and having alot of fun. I was tired and really wanted a nap, I just happend to say that when one of them said, where is this fu**ing glacier. From then on the rest of the journey became know as Where is this fu**ing glacier, I need to take a nap. Funny stuff. Along the way Aussie Steve, the self proclaimed binge drinker, who I had met in Valdivia joined our posse and then we new trouble was not far behind.
Well it was getting a little colder but we had our corner on the deck staked out. What we needed was wine. Marci brought out a real nice bottle of chilean white and we plowed ahead, wine in hand.

To our right we notice some splashed in the distance. We watched and they were pretty consistant meaning only one thing, Dolphins. For some reason I was not compelled to take any pictures, I just wanted to enjoy the experience. They were moving faster than we thought and were on top of us pretty quickly. There were 3 of them, grey and white and they were doing thier dolphin thing. When they got close to the bow of the boat right in front of us about 20 feet down you could see them swim underwater. It was pretty damn impressive. They went under the boat and just like Keyser Söze *poof*, they were gone.

Now this is about 3 hour after lunch and we are still outside and its getting colder and windier, but we were  not going to be denied. Suddenly we turned into a channell and far off in the distance you could see Pio XI, the mothership of the day. This glacier is 365 km long and the largest in South America. Something is always claiming to be the largest something somewhere isn't it?

The captain announced that the glacier was in sight and naturally all hell broke loose, the deck filling almost instantly. What these new deck mates did not take into account was that it was cold but more to the point it was the fury of Patagonia hitting us straight in the face. Holy crappola, but again we were not going to be denied. Marci went and grabbed a few life jacket to kneel on. "See I am a good project manager" she boasted until I pointed out that she brought 2 life jackets and there were four of us. Sharing our new found comfort we took solice in kneeling down below the wind and watched the glacier move ever slowly toward us.
Here is my funny tourist observation moment. We are sailing towards this glacier and will stop within 500 metres of it, to which I was pretty damn excited. However why is it that everyone, myself included felt the need to take a photo using thier telephoto lens. I mean were were heading right towards is. I love human absurdity.

Steve brought out some beer to help take away the cold and the deck was crowded as the glacier inched ever closer. From first sighting to arrival was still going to take up to 90 minutes. We just hung in there and we were rewarded.
Our captain whose skill can not be denied pulled head on to this sucker and was no more that 300 yards away or so it seemed, I am sure it was farther but holy crap we were close and it was impressive. Large breaks and fissures displayed multiple hues of blue ice. My camera got a serious workout and the battering from the Winds of Patagonia was worth it.

A serious carnival atmoshere happend out of nowhere. Everyone running around taking photos, oohhh and ahhing. We had to take it to the next level so off came the shirts to have a tough guy in the cold in front of a glacier photo or two. It really wasnt that bad as there was no more wind but more than one freaked out and bundled up Aussie could be heard saying "you Canadians are nuts".

We stayed for quite a while then the captain turned the boat majestically around and we headed back up channel. I was done and needed a coffee, it was a long day on deck. I went inside, had a coffee and my nap requirment increased 1000 %.
It was 7:30 so a quick dinner of Hake which is a great fish and with a full belly, hours of fresh Patagonian air, lots of excitement a a little booze was going to make sleeping a breeze. I wandered down to my bunker and slept through till morning. This was a really good day.


Anonymous said...

My name is James, not Steve

Where is my freaking pigeon bubble story???

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure he was calling me Steve (which makes sense) and you "Kevin" for some reason.

I too, wonder about the pigeon bubble story.

Hope Antarctica treats you well Ken and if you're back in USH before the 27th find us at the Freestyle for a quiet session of binge drinking.

Aussie Steve

AC said...

And my name is Kasia, NOT Marcin ;) Anyway I was the ONLY one who thought about those life jackets!

Ken Weiss said...

how is it possible that I could screw up so many names? Let see cold, wind, rain, beer, wine, lack of sleep, waves,stupidity