Monthly Archives: March 2008

Patagonia: The Anti-Rally–Dispatch 4

We have now crossed the border beween Chile and Argentina, in one direction or the other, eleven times.  The most vivid and, shall we say, poignant of the crossings occurred the day after we left El Chalten.  But, let’s start at the beginning.

After leaving El Chalten, our drive northward on Ruta 40 was long and uneventful.  The landscape mimicked Mongolia to such a remarkable extent that we were sometimes confused about where we actually were.  The only two differences were a) bits of brown grass growing in Argentina and b) more Bactrian camels in Mongolia (also more cars, or at least more really old cars).

Our stop the first day was Bajo Caracoles, little more than a gas station with rooms surrounded by a few scruffy hostels, immortalized by Bruce Chatwin in Songlines as the crossroads to nowhere.  Well, I’m here to tell you Bruce was wrong.  To the Eastof Bajo Caracoles are the Cuevos de los Manos, cliffs on which were discovered hand silhouettes painted for some ritual observations 9,000 years ago.  We reached these isolated cliff sites late in the afternoon and were the only ones there.


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Patagonia:The Anti-Rally–Dispatch 3

Greetings from El Chalten, Argentina, home of that incomparable peak Fitz Roy and all that is sparkling and beautiful in the world of glaciated peaks.

For those of you with a good memory, I left you wondering whether we would be able to catch a monster chinook in Torres del Paine. The answer, sadly, is No.  Bernard did catch a 7-lb brown trout, which we shared with friends at the hotel for dinner. It was fresh and delicious, perhaps because it had been nibbling on a dead cow floating along the banks of the Lago Toro before Bernard hooked it?  While at the Rio Serrano, standing in our waders in utterly frigid waters, being pelted by rain, we observed some of the mammoth chinook lumbering out of the icy depths and flumping back in.  These were no ordinary chinook, but rather ones that, so we´re told, escaped from a farm operation some 25 years ago, somehow found the Rio Serrano and now use it as their spawning ground.  Clearly they are genetic anomalies and who knows whether the above is even possible.  We were hopeful of getting into a tussle with one of these behemoths, but they kept to the deep channel in the middle of the river, and we couldn´t get close, even if I had been able to cast more than 10 feet…..


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