Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Food of Patagonia...

OK, I know I said in the past that I would try to have one food pic in each entry, but I got so wrapped up in other aspects of Patagonia that I lapsed....however, now you get a WHOLE entry devoted to the food of Patagonia...And it is well deserved...Fresh lamb, finely grilled or smoked deer and wild pig that is Fantastic!  smoked and fresh trout and salmon...All sorts of berry compotes and glazes..... of course we had many " ho hum" meals, but I think there is a truism that in places where there are many months of cold, lonely/no tourists in site, no work except keeping the fires going,  people develop their creative cooking skills to a higher level.

My favorite place was this woman's little restaurant in Puerto menus, she only had the special of the day...amazing stews,  pork with homemade spetzel, and, as usual down south, too much of everything.


This guy used to be a famous singer in Buenos he and generations of family run a great little place in Puerto Deseado
A simple pizza and fettucini with wild pig 

And here we are  accompanied by Oregon friends Denny and Annie in Calafate's most recommended Parilla...  The next shot is of my plate of lamb...amazingly tender and delicate considering how large the chop was..maybe they should have called it sheep?
It was Cherry harvest time while we were down south...a nice way to end a meal or a post!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Los Glaciares National Park- Calafate

One of the main reasons for our six week tour of Patagonia (besides avoiding the sultry Buenos Aires heat of December/January) was to use our three night stay at a fancy Calafate hotel (Hotel Kosten Aike).   Dave won our stay at a silent auction at the charity ball at the British embassador's residence ( 400 people ) last spring, and from the champagne welcome to the phones in the shower, this place was indeed luxurious.    After lots of bus travel and trudging our rolling suitcases over cobble stoned  little towns, Calafate was like arriving in Vegas after crossing the desert on mule back.  Lots of European 20 year olds, fit and outfitted to the max in the latest climbing gear....Calafate is the gateway point of lots of major trekking in the Andes, both the Argentina and Chile sides...We met up with Oregon friends Denny and Annie and had some great fancy food, spent much time at outdoor cafes, and instead of trekking off into the sunset, rented an airconditioned car and rode out to see the Perito Moreno Glacier.  Los Glaciares National Park has been designated by UNESCOas a World Heritage Site and I can see why...This glacier is the only one in the world any more that is advancing .....- approximately 3 inches per hour -  The size of it is truly overwhelming, along with the SOUNDS when ice breaks off and plummets into the lake.  for an additional thrill, google earth for the patagonian ice fieldwith a dozen glaciers moving out from it.  a journey for the younger and tougher.


I took this shot from a cruise boat that got right up close...I couldn't get over the color .  The ice is swimming pool blue.  A guide said that eons of compression drives the oxygen out of the ice.  Lack of oxygen somehow effects how light rays are perceived....the more blue it is, the older it is.

this cavern is formed by the slight current between the two lakes, actually one lake, until the ices blocks it.  then one half, with a larger feed system starts forcing a channel through, under, the glacial block.


Right in the middle of this pic is where the glacier meets the land and keeps breaking off...sometimes forming a bridge that then collapses..


And this is my favorite arty pic of rock (and what amazing colors of rock!) halting that slow glowing flow of blue glacier ice.... 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Puerto the tourist trail....


now, for some ocean and river stuff.  puerto deseado, home to the huge ships of the calamari and langostino capturing industry.  one of our primary reasons for the visit was eating some of same, fresh and lots of it.  not a tourist place at all,  not many hotels, restaurants, but a pretty brisk excursion business via boat for dolphin, penguin, and, sometimes, killer whale watching.  it's just a couple hours from more touristy zones, and , yes it's pretty cold, and we are getting more south all the time.  the best fresh fish restaurant in town looks out on this not so spectacular residential scenery.

of course, it did have some moments of architectural uniquity

But the very best, most wonderous thing to do in Puerto Deseado is to go on a pontoon boat up the river.  The place is teeming with wildlife...dolphins chased the boat...we saw two kinds of cormorants, South American Sea Lions...

and thousands of these guys, not at all people shy, as they get visited by a good hundred humans daily

A young french illustrator, with drawings and subjects all in one photo


this is the one that jamye danced with for half an hour.  and back at the dock, a representative of the local tourist bureau greeted us.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Esquel, Piedra Parada and the Canyon de las Biutreras

Esquel is south of El Bolson and the Lakes District, still at the edge of the Andes. 

It's a hub for Chubut Province business and tourism, so seemed a bit more worldly than other neighboring towns we passed through.    Dave got real excited  when he heard there was a huge rock out east of town in the middle of the pampa.   There were no buses that went there, but he found a guide with a car....After two hours of driving on a bone racking gravel road across a very barren, flat, gravel plane of nothingness, here is what we found:

so, this  is the place called Piedra Parada; literally, rock stop.  it's maybe 200 ft. through and 500ft. tall.  Apparently, it was a cooled hunk of lava that suddenly burst through due to internal pressure and a weakening of the surrounding rock.  so, instead of rock stop, maybe rock plug is closer.  This was kind of impressive, but only shrunk in comparison to the next batch o' geology. 
We got to hike and marvel in Canyon de las Biutreras, about a mile from the rock.

that's probably me, part way up one of the narrow draws.  all of these strong and sudden formations bespeak geology at it's most unbelievable suddenness.  it seems as if all of this exploded from the center of the earth at once.  cultural history made it a perfect weather and game trapping spot for the original Indians.

this particularly large protected opening has been the site of ongoing archaeological digs.   lots of bone tools and flutes, plus remnants of basket weaving and cured hide clothing and shelters.
took a hundred or more photos, will go back here again some day for a thousand more.

although this is a federal protection zone," no cussin', no spittin', no campin,'" there are two areas where rock climbing enthusiasts are allowed.  the little tiny white dot in the lower quarter of the center photo is of a guy, very slowly moving up. click on the photo to see him bigger..

and here we are, feeling very small.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Over to the Atlantic...Playa Union, Puerto Rawson, and Trelew

I apologize for not keeping to my schedule of a post every Sunday due to lap top explosion three weeks ago while on the road.  But we are back in Buenos Aires now, settled into a new barrio and a new apartment, with a computer up and running. 

Our 6 week tramp around Patagonia reinforced my belief of "good travel" .
  The touted tourist destination towns and attractions are indeed easier to navigate, with better service structure (taxi's and ATM's and English understood).  The researched and planned trip, reservations made, does make for more relaxing, less harried travel.  For me,though, the most memorable and thought provoking are the towns, people, restaurants and sights off the tourist path, the unplanned event, the times when one is stranded and stymied and has to work out the next step.

We had scheduled the first 20 days of our trip pretty tight, but after the Lakes District and El Bolson we had 16 unplanned days to meander down South to Calafate. We opted to take an overnight bus back to the Atlantic coast to Playa Union ( barely mentioned in guide books), just south of Puerto Madryn.  Puerto Madryn is in ALL the guide books for seeing whales and other marine marvels, but we had seen enough whales in Oregon.  Playa Union turned out to be full of tourists, but mainly Argentine ones.  Its a vacation beach town with a long board walk, with the Atlantic on one side and on the other, rows of tiny bungalows interspersed with restaurants and ice cream stores.  I loved walking down the boardwalk in the evening, peeking into the living rooms of all the bungalows, being a voyeur of argentine vacations.  That's were we saw the guy at the top of the page...he was sipping a martini, watching the people go by.  When I gestured through the window asking if I could take his picture, he leaped up and came outside, told us his story, then puffed up a bit for his photo.

The town of about 1,500 full time folks seems to be doing pretty well, with lots of fancy houses going up...

And here is what the other side of the boardwalk looked like... lots of kids on their summer break, and the big group down on the sand was watching the regional team hand ball playoffs.

We found this great old dance pavilion in the bigger town of Trelew, a Welsh farming settlement, a 15 minute busride from Playa Union.
And a 20 minute walk got us to the tiny fishing port of Puerto Rawson, where the one restaurant  gave us our first good seafood of the trip....