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Published: December 10th 2014
Our drive back to the border was without rush, so we took the regular, PAVED, route instead of the bone rattling one we had taken on the way to Argentina.
We drove back through the steppes, with lots of sheep along the way. Milthon told us that, although the sheep adapted to the area, it is causing problems with the environment because they pull out the vegetation by the roots, and it is so windy that the thin layer of top soil is flying away, and about 25% of the area is now ruined. Also, the sheep have a shorter lifespan there, because the tough vegetation wears out their teeth, and they will die of hunger after about 5 years. Poor things!
We did see some gauchos along the way with some of their cattle, but sheeps are predominant in this area for sure.
Fortunately, at that later time of day, there were not many people waiting to cross the border back into Chile. A good thing that was because the Argentinian office didn't have electricity. Amazing! Miguel told us that he's heard from some of the Chilean policemen that sometimes they buy light bulbs and other things
and give them to their Argentinian counterparts so that they can do a more efficient job. Sad! The general joke is that all the money goes towards Cristina's makeup, and shoes, etc., because the people in Argentina don't see any of it.
I also found out that Argentinians are charged an additional whopping percentage over travel prices if they leave the country. I believe it was 35% more. It is to discourage them to spend money outside of Argentina.
On the Chilean Immigration side, our driver Miguel almost got into trouble because he had an orange in the car. You have no idea how seriously chile takes potential contaminants being brought into the country. He promptly threw it away. Because, I think, it was a slow day, we had to drag our luggage out of the vehicle and put it through the machines, but it only took a few minutes more.
Anyway, once we were back in Chile, we decided to make another stop at El Ovejero Cafeteria for some Cortados (coffees) and French Fries. Me and my French fries fetish! We lingered over our cortados, listening to Miguel's stories of previous trips in the area. Afterwards,
relaxed and contented, we continued our trip to La Cueva del Milodon.
This cave was discovered in 1885 by one of the Estancia owners in the area, Hermann Eberhard, who also happened to come across a well preserved piece of skin from an unknown animal. The cave was made at the end of the last ice age, by water from the receding glaciers in the area. The skin was taken to the Museum of London for examination, and it was determined that it belong to a prehistoric, large type of giant sloth that became extinct about 10,000 years ago. This particular specimen lived about 12,000 years ago. There are other caves, but the one we could visit was the one were the skin was found. If you saw some of my pictures, you can see that replica of the animal that was built and placed in the cave. We had fun posing with him!
Supposedly, it was an aggressive species of sloth, with few predators due to its size and its claws, except for the saber tooth tiger. We frolicked in the cave for a while, and then continued our long drive back to Punta Arenas and our
However, on the outskirts of Puerto Natales, our guide suggested we stopped took a look at a five star hotel, The Singular Patagonia, that was built at the site of an old early 1900s cold storage plant. The old buildings and equipment now are part of a museum that the hotel was built around. It was quite an interesting visit, and the hotel was impressive. Their large bar and restaurant area looked very tempting.
Afterwards, we continued our long drive back to Punta Arenas and our hotel. Tired when we got back late that night, we decided we didn't even feel like fooling with a restaurant, and abandoned completely our plans to check out that one particular restaurant we had planned to go to once before, El Solito. Instead, we ordered room service.
One more chaotic thing happened to me then. There I was sitting in my king sized bed, fortunately still dressed, when in come a hapless couple with their suitcases and a bellboy. I shot across the room when I heard the door. They stopped in shock. Yep. The hotel had sent them to my room, having forgotten already that it was occupied. LOL!
I had to explain to the front desk who I was, when I got there, etc. Quite exciting!
It didn't keep me from another good night's sleep once I finally turned out the light, looking forward to my last few hours in Patagonia the next day, before our flight back to Santiago in the late afternoon.
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