The DougBlog
"Et sans savoir pourquoi, disent toujours: Allons!" —Baudelaire

Friday, November 09, 2007

Rapa Nui Blog, Part 4: Patagonia—Punta Arenas

Alas, as with all things, my time in Torres del Paine came to an end. I got up early (well, 10:00—early by my standards) to make the drive back to Punta Arenas, where I would spend the night and visit a penguin colony. Of course, the drive was very beautiful, past the Andes and more impossibly blue waters:

Incidentally, along the highways of Chile you see these little shrines. I assume that they are for people who were killed along that motorway, but they are remarkably elaborate and permanent little structures:

Finally, I reached the Strait of Magellan:

For those of you who’ve forgotten, this is a body of water that cuts across South America and through which Magellan first sailed in his attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Punta Arenas is on its shore, so of course Magellan is honored with a statue in their town square:

There is a legend that if you kiss the toe of one of the Native American figures on the monument, you’ll return to Patagonia. As a result, that toe stays very shiny:

I only blew a kiss, don’t know if that counts, but I’m not about to risk any more foreign infections when I travel! A few more shots of Punta Arenas:

It looks like they might even have a Jew!:

I spent the night in town and got up very early the next morning (7:00—early by anyone’s standards!) to drive about an hour to the penguin colony at Seno Otway. This is the smaller of two major penguin colonies in Patagonia. In an effort to keep the visitors from disturbing them, there are 3 “hidden” viewing platforms connected by roped off pathways where you are not allowed to loiter:

First you walk past their nests:

And then, there they are…Penguins!:

These are Magellanic Penguins. They’re also known as Jackass Penguins because of their distinctive bray [insert your own jokes here]. There were only about 100 around (out of 10,000 in the colony!) Most of them were already out to sea, fishing while the others stayed in the nests to incubate the eggs. They were very cute. What is it about penguins that make them so funny to watch? Maybe because they waddle so much and are so anthropomorphic.

After about 2 hours of watching these guys, I’d had enough of the cold and headed back into town to catch my flight back to Santiago. And after what promised to be a good night’s sleep at the Santiago Airport Holiday Inn Express I would finally be headed off to Easter Island…

A few parting shots:

Apparently Chileans are big into being able to wash their hands, even in the wilderness, because there were more signs like this than there were for food or fuel::

Sometimes even real Spanish sounds made-up:

In case you were thinking about swimming in the glaciated Lago Grey, know that “Is not allowed swimming”:

This in one (in Punta Arenas) of many monuments to Chile’s founder and greatest national hero. I can never get past the fact that his name was BERNARDO O’HIGGINS!!!!

Here’s the hole in the ozone over Patagonia and Antarctica:

I enjoyed this translation:

Finally, I also enjoyed the name of this bridge (puente) in Punta Arenas:



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