Intercepting Chickens in Southern Argentina

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January 3rd 2008
Published: January 7th 2008
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Remember they are 9/10ths below the waterRemember they are 9/10ths below the waterRemember they are 9/10ths below the water

Hoping the captain remembers this!
Ok, so before i start this blog i have to tell you about the most surreal hairdressing experience i have ever had, just now (I mean, surely everyone can have surreal hairdressing experiences, even nearly bald people!). I went into this place to get my hair cut and this hippy guy comes out. Before he even starts, he has to sort the music out as he can´t cut without The Police playing. So when Roxanne starts up, he can then start. He talks throughout the haircut, despite me only understanding about 2%!o(MISSING)f what he is saying. I definitely picked up he talked about king crabs, and a friend of his who is the Ju Jitsu champion of Chile and Brazil. He then offers me some dope while the haircut is going on. When i turn this down, coffee is the next offer. And then, at the end of the haircut, he embraces me like a long lost brother and says he hopes to see me in London some day! Very strange. You don´t get service like that in the Uxbridge barbers, and they charge twice as much! Its these little experiences i love about travelling.

El Calafate
After Puerto
Iceberg(s) ahead Captain!Iceberg(s) ahead Captain!Iceberg(s) ahead Captain!

Now pick a route for a big boat through that lot!
Madryn in the last blog, i headed down into Patagonia proper, arriving first up in El Calafate. The town is really the gateway to some of the largest and most impressive glaciers in Patagonia. The town itself though is a tourist hotspot and not an entirely impressive place, although they did have some fantastic beef and lamb steaks in the parillas there. I did 2 trips from this town to see various glaciers.

The first was a full day boat trip up Lake Argentina to take in 3 different glaciers. As you travel up the length of the lake, gradually the icebergs which are being shed from the glacier at the head of the lake become larger and more impressive. The boat picks a route through this minefield, trying not to have a Titanic moment (I checked to make sure the boat wasn´t built in Belfast before i got on!). The icebergs are incredible, all various shapes, being sculpted by the fierce winds blowing along the lake, and the lake water itself, which is a perfect turquoise blue colour. Eventually we arrived at the source of the icebergs, the massive Upsala glacier (Twice as large as the city of
Where´s the single malt?Where´s the single malt?Where´s the single malt?

So much ice and not a drop of whiskey in sight!
Buenos Aires). Despite the icy cold wind coming off the glacier, it is a truly impressive sight, merging with the cloud off into the distance. Our boat was dwarfed by the massive front of the glacier.

We also visited the similarly impressive Spegazzini glacier which tumbles down the mountainside at the head of another lake. Here the boat sat for around 20 minutes with the engines off so we could take in the glacier, watching pieces larger than the boat we were in splaying off into the lake, and hearing creaking from everywhere as the glacier ground against the rock face. I found it absolutely spectacular.

My second day was spent at he famous Perito Moreno Glacier, the one on all the post cards of Patagonia. I watched it from viewing platforms opposite the glacier, where many people basically stand and wait for huge chunks to fall off the glacier into the lake. Again, an amazing sight to take in and well worth going to. I took so many pictures though of various views of the glacier. It´s one of those things when you are there, you keep taking pictures as the light is slightly different or the
Upsala Glacier tumbling down to Lake ArgentinaUpsala Glacier tumbling down to Lake ArgentinaUpsala Glacier tumbling down to Lake Argentina

Even with a boat in front of the glacier for scale! No North arrow though i am afraid
angle slightly better. However, the reality when i look at them later was that they were all incredibly similar!

El Chalten
After my couple of days in El Calafate, i moved on 4 hours north to El Chalten where i was over New Year. This is essentially a trekking base from where there are a number of day treks in and around the Fitz Roy massif. The massif is essentially a set of huge granite pinnacles which soar up from the surrounding sandstone base. They have survived a number of glacier movements across them, which have eroded back the surrounding sandstone layers, leaving soaring, pretty inaccessible vertical pinnacles which most of the walks approach. Well, at least thats what i am told i should have seen, as i was a bit unlucky with the weather and the cloud obscured most of the pinnacles for any time i should have had a view. The locals reckon though there are only about 35 days a year when you can actually see them. Maybe next time perhaps. Still, the walking is really impressive in that area.

I was also in El Calafate for New Year, and i managed to meet up
Upsala Glacier againUpsala Glacier againUpsala Glacier again

Can you spot the boat this time?
with Helen for a couple of days over that period too (Through a lot of logistical planning to get there). New Years Eve was fun, if a little surreal being in a little one street town in one of the Southernmost towns in the world. Still we went out for a meal and a few beers, and i learned a new term too from the trekking guide with us, Leo, a good friend of Helen´s. He is from the North of Argentina, Cordoba. There they have a term when you get drunk, called "Intercepting Chickens". So they use it if they are going out for a night to get drunk, they are going out intercepting chickens. Apparently its because when you are a bit drunk (So i have heard), and you are staggering around from side to side, they think it looks similar to if someone is trying to round up a group of chickens! So on New Years Eve we all had a night of intercepting chickens! Ohhh, those crazy Argentinians!

So i hope everyone is good at home and you all had a fun New Year. More soon,


PS: I apologise to Steve Pinnock,
Perito Moreno GlacierPerito Moreno GlacierPerito Moreno Glacier

Although a smaller glacier than the others, no less spectacular. Size isn´t everything in the world of glaciers
Buzzard Geologist (I use the term loosely!) for all the obvious geology inaccuracies in this blog, of which there are probably many. I look forward to being corrected for all my Geo-waffle back in the office.

Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


Some Random Bloke in front of a lake full of glaciersSome Random Bloke in front of a lake full of glaciers
Some Random Bloke in front of a lake full of glaciers

Especially for Roy. Is that a Glacier coming out of my head?
Pretty Coloured IcebergPretty Coloured Iceberg
Pretty Coloured Iceberg

All it needs is a penguin on it to make it really pretty
Spegazzini Glacier FrontSpegazzini Glacier Front
Spegazzini Glacier Front

The towering face of Spegazzini Glacier, with pieces from the glacier in the lake that have splayed off
Spegazzini GlacierSpegazzini Glacier
Spegazzini Glacier

Rolling down the mountainside on two fronts to the Lake
Glacier  coming off Fitz Roy Massif in El ChaltenGlacier  coming off Fitz Roy Massif in El Chalten
Glacier coming off Fitz Roy Massif in El Chalten

Can you see the Fitz Roy Pinnacles in the background? (No, neither can I). New Years Day in El Chalten!

7th January 2008

Did you get to the first verse of Roxanne before the cut had been completed?
8th January 2008

Excellent blogpiece and awesome iceberg photos Mikey. Watch out for those tilting horizons!!
8th January 2008

Feliz Ano Nuevo!
Mike, thats Happy New Year in Spanish... Anyway, keep up the blogs and the detailed descriptions.... It sounds as though you are having the time of you (mid) life......... Best regards James ps Its also very unusual to see a reservoir engineer appreciate the fact that there is more to life than excel speadsheets...... So there will be no corrections on your Geology.
8th January 2008

Sorry couldn't resist the pun. I'm amazed ... it sounds as if at least some of Pinnocks geowaffle has rubbed off on you ... excellent. We'll make a geo of you yet ... not! Sounds like you're having a great time. Really enjoy the blogs and photo's ... keep 'em coming. Have a great one and take care.
9th January 2008

Re: Haircut
I think it was somewhere about the end of the second verse actually when he held up the mirror! smart ar*e.

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