Tuesday, 4 March 2014

South American Adventure - Day Thirteen, Tuesday 4th March 2014

Another fairly leisurely start – we are meeting JP at 9.30am so breakfast at 9.00am.  It is so tranquil here – even in the communal areas and dining areas.  Nothing is hurried.  It turns out the Manager here, Rosario, has a son that is the main chef at Sandals Ocho Rios – and she holidays there every year.  We compared notes!  The weather here has apparently been doing odd things.  For the whole of their summer, they have not had good weather.  There was snow here on and off until the middle of February – virtually unheard of.  For the last couple of weeks the weather has been lovely – just in time for their winter to start again in a couple of months.  Can’t complain.  One of the main issues in Patagonia is the wind – it can get up to 200km an hour, and causes all sorts of problems.  The trail that we walked yesterday can be too dangerous in parts (I can understand that!) to walk when the wind is up.  We haven’t really had that much wind since we have been here, so we have been really lucky.

We are not going to have such an arduous day today.  We first went to the park, via the normal commute, but to a different entrance.  The first trail we did was just by this entrance, to the Sarmiento Lake.  This is the main area where Pumas are sighted.  There are loads of guanacos about, so I should imagine no pumas at the moment.  This trail is nowhere near as demanding as yesterday, but I can still feel my muscles pulling a little on the uphills.  It was only about an hour, and down to the beautiful lake, and then back again.  We then moved on a little to Swan Lake.  I don’t think that is it’s real name, but it was full of swans.  And a very loud American bus pulled up – the bus and the passengers!  They left, and there was peace again. 

We then went on another lookout up a hill, where we could see the three horns – a mountain range that is on the front of the local beer, and the Paine Massif.  There is a glacier up there, and the top is covered in cloud.  It looks as if it is snowing on the top.  We then went to a trail that took us to Salto Grande – the largest of the waterfalls in the park. This one definitely shuts in bad weather.  There have been two mini buses full of passengers tipped over with the wind.  A metal sign with writing on both sides is completely obliterated on one side where the wind has picked up the stones and pebble dashed it clean.  The falls were not exactly Niagara, but it was bigger than I anticipated.  There were some rapids over rocks, before bottlenecking into the fall to the lower level lake.  When the sun was out, there was a rainbow in the spray.  We finished the walk here, and then drove to a campsite for lunch.

Lunch today was in a cool box rather than a back pack.  There were little hut like things with picnic tables under and outside – mostly empty.  We chose one, and parked the car next to it.  JP then put a tablecloth on the picnic table, and got out red wine and glasses.  That’s Paul’s lunch taken care of!  He then put on surgical gloves – I wondered what was going to happen next!!  He got out a bag of cheese, and started to cut it.  Phew!  We also had smoked salmon, salad, quinoa salad and pea soup.  This is the sort of picnic I like.  Cookies and muffins to follow – although Paul thought they were more like buns, so now PJ knows a new word.  Not sure if the chef will be happy with him calling them buns to other guests though.

With that packed up and out of the way, we continued around Lake Pehoe.  It was really scenic, and was turning out to be another beautiful day.  We then did another trail to Salto Chico – the small water falls.  They were not as large as the other one, but still very picturesque.  A couple of condors flew in and sat on the mountain opposite.  They are very graceful creatures, and I haven’t got a really good picture of one yet.  This was as close as I was going to get, as they seemed to put their feet up and switch the TV on.  Didn’t seem as they were going to move from there for a while.  We continued past the waterfall and around the lake.  There were a couple of steamer ducks just bobbing about in the peace and quiet.  Don’t blame them.  Back to the car, and it was time to head off back to the hotel.  Along the way we stopped to take a photo of the Paine Massif with a rain shower in front of it – the sun was shining on the water and it looked fascinating.  All the way home we were keeping our eyes out for pumas – not a lot of chance seeing them at this time of day though – usually early in the morning or last thing at night.  You never know!  I do now.  We aren’t going to see one!

This dinner thing here is getting quite boring.  The food is so good day after day.  Nothing to complain about.  Tonight was scallops – one of the best scallop dishes I have ever tasted – and Patagonian Salmon.  Superb.  Paul had meat that you could cut with a spoon.  Lovely – but I feel we could get used to this, and it is going to come hard when we have to leave it all behind!

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