Day 1570 Sunday 1st February
Once again we were in a backpacker bus being shipped from A to B, we are really missing the independence that having one’s own transport brings. I used to notice the guys with large carrying packs and think how easy it must be to book your passage, stow the bag and watch the scenery roll by without a worry of flat tyres or breakdowns. The reality of it is a headache of trying to get to your destination, get away from it when you want and not get stuck because your tour or something gets back in the evening, on the departure day, so you have to stay another half a week to wait for the next bus. One of the warehouse workers said to us when we were crating the KTM he did not understand how we travelled in foreign countries, I said that’s all we had to contend with, no job, no house no concerns, only with day to day living, fuel for bikes and us, place for our heads at night and a frontier crossing once every few weeks.
The tar turned to gravel at the Chilean border which was not a surprise as it is often that way between frontiers as no government understandably wants the expense of maintaining it. Judging by the amount of ruts and potholes it did not even see a grader that often. We huddled outside the border post waiting for our traveling companions, who were a little faster in getting off the bus than us. While they collected the required stamp out of the country so we could get in the building and out of the cold wind, that threatened to blow the fluffy white dog that fussed around people’s feet, often getting trod on, signalled with a high-pitched yelp.
The immigration guys were very co-operative in stamping our passports where we wanted, us trying to save space because when we eventually leave Chile we would have a total of eight stamps crossing countries. Thankfully they only stamp it and not put a full-page entry and exit voucher in the book.
About twenty km from the Argentinian entry point we came to a tee junction with a tar road. No signs on that road to signify that the gravel road led to the border, not very helpful if you’re trying to get out!
We were dropped at the main bus station which gave us a pleasant twenty minuet walk to the hostel. Where we ‘greeted’ by a very ‘funky’ Argentinian young woman who spoke full of Latin American slang and generally treated us like idiots. Maybe we are but I still would treat customers with courtesy, if not with respect. The room was warm, had a private shower room and was very clean, with hot water.
Day 1571 Monday 2nd February.
Having not had enough of glaciers we booked another tour on the back of what we had been told at Bellavista hostel in Natales. So to Glacier Moreno a seven kilometre wide, thirty long and sixty metres high monolith of five hundred year old ice. This time a long mini bus drive and an hour on a boat, sat at the foot of this monster. Three time we witnessed a large lump, maybe fifty or one hundred tons topple in slow motion into the water. It was difficult to judge the weight and size due to two hundred meters that separated us. I tried to compare the six cubic metre bucket on the loader which held at most eleven tons. After our boat we walked the labyrinth of walkways and staircases that switch back and forth in front of the ice. Nine hundred steps up or down the guide told us most firmly. You go down you must come up… The face was in a shallow arrow-head, southerly and northerly faces. We walked down to almost fjord level and stood in awe of the shades of blue and white that ice produced as the sun struck the surface. Apparently caused by the density and how much air was trapped in it, less dense I guess. But the more weight that had been on it made it more dense. (less air? As more or less, you can’t compress water).
While mulled over what the guide had said, a few large limps fell and Diane started to shoot a video. Then quite large bit fell from under a shelf, leaving a hole. The expanse above maybe two hundred meters wide forty metres high cracked and creaked, a side tower fell with a huge crash. Then silence, apart from falls way back up the ice we could not see, but imagined on what we had just seen. As she filmed on the two hundred meter wide expanse fell slowly into the water causing a huge wave to wash out across the divide toward us. We were situated back up the opposing hillside out of waters reach. But if you were down there it all occurred so quick you would not outrun it, scary. Tsunami style….. We hung around for three-quarters of an hour but the whole mass had gone quiet, so we wandered back to the bus. Great day out.
Day 1572 Tuesday 3rd February
Left Calafate for Arenas via a bus swap at Natales. Arriving in town late we struggled to buy some pasta for supper. Along with pre-made tomato sauce as we were too bushed to cook properly. Just as well as there was no stove in the ‘fully equipped kitchen. Micro pasta, sauce with cheese on top, yum.