Monday, January 08, 2007

smile at the rain

¨The worst weather in years!¨
¨It never rains this much here!¨
¨¡que feo el tiempo!¨

We´ve heard it everywhere weve been in patagonia. In literally every town from soggy pueblos on the carretera austral to wind-whipped villages in southern argentina, locals are amazed at the extremity of weather this year.

But its been a good practice in acceptance; we have no control over the weather conditions, so just tighten the hood and smile at the rain...

From the hanging glacier outside Puyuguapi, we waited in the rain (of course) for the passing collectivo. We had already bought tix and the owner assured us it would pass between 2 and 4pm. I heard a rumbling and emerged from the relative shelter of the trees, only to be passed by the van in a splash of mud. But apparently the sight of a dripping, bearded man waiving arms wildly convinced the driver that some emergency had occurred. I caught up with him, smiling, grasping my soggy tickets. He shook his head, said the van was full, told me the owner must have lied to us, and seemed poised to leave us wet and hungry on the muddy route. I resorted to anger, and in impressively rapid and impassioned battle-spanish, i managed to convince him to let us squeeze in. We gratefully accepted the stuffy, 6-hr journey sitting on our packs as we bounced over muddy, rutted roads.

From our destination, the big town of Coyhaique, we took a cargo boat across the giant, low-lying glacial-fed lake (called lago carrera in chile and lago buenos aires in arg) and ended up walking 17km with our packs across the border into argentina. We arrived in tshirts and gratefully sweaty. Los Antiguos lies in a warm, dry microclimate. We spent Christmas there, camped on the sandy shore of the lake (to escape the throngs in the campsite blaring music from car stereos, and drinking calimocho (red wine mixed with coke) while staring for 10 hours at the full sheep - skinned, splayed open, and crucified over a constantly tended bed of coals.) We did wake to an explosion of light overhead: the argentine joy of xmas fireworks - feliz navidad!


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