Glacier Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno

El Calafate

Patagonia

Argentina

May 16, 2012

My Dear Family and Friends,

From my perch on a boulder in the middle of this glorious outdoor refrigerator-icebox, I tread along the rocky shoreline of the frigid water nearby.  I stare at the thick plateau of advancing ice.  I gaze at the black and white mountains beyond.  Under three layers of clothing, I sit here alone.   Once again, alone…. 

….Thanks to Diego Linares….

I first met Diego during my travels in Turkey.  We shared an airport transfer in Istanbul and then a flight east to the city of Van.  We explored the ancient fortresses and castles and the Tenth Century Armenian church called Akdamar Kilisesi on an island on Lake Van.  Diego was headed further east by train across the border to Iran and I headed west along the southern regions of Turkey.    

Diego forecast correctly that the economic activity in his native Spain would plunge and that his immediate employment opportunities would be grim.   He sold his stuff and bought an around-the-world airplane ticket.  We met again when he traveled through Bangkok.

Diego had visited Chile and Argentina, so when I wrote that Argentina was on my South America itinerary, he wrote back and insisted I visit Perito Moreno.  I took Diego’s advice.  From Ushuaia, I flew to El Calafate and booked a tour to the glacier called Perito Moreno.

So, here I am, alone.  Well, not quite.

After an hour at the glacier viewing platform my group boarded a large motor boat across Lake Argentina.  We hiked through the woods to a base camp for a climb up the glacier. 

Before the climb, we were fitted with a proper pair of crampons and given several minutes of instruction on the proper methods of walking on the uneven and treacherous surface of the ice.  “Your hiking stick will be useless, and dangerous. Strike the ice, each step, strike the ice with your foot…lean this way….lean that way…go here…don’t go there…”  (You with me?  You smiling yet?)

After about four steps, I had a private conversation with one of the guides. “I will go up this glacier, but for only 100 meters, and then down to the base where I will wait alone for the group to return.” And so I did, and so I am alone as I watch the line of single file young travelers make their way up the ice.  The black dots climb higher and then disappear.

For more than an hour I amuse myself by struggling on the rocks with my camera and tripod for a proper self-portrait.  I also sing aloud a medley of Broadway show tunes.  I also remember to thank my lucky stars for my good fortune.  I sit quietly.  

I look for the words to describe the mountains, the lakes and the Glacier Perito Moreno.

But, there are no more words, my friends. The experience defies mere words.

I trust my photographs and my videos will suffice until you yourself follow Diego’s advice.

As for young Diego, like yours truly, he has found a home in Asia.  He now lives and works in Shanghai where I am certain he continues to provide his friends with excellent travel suggestions.

Jan

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