I love winding roads. From the Moki Dugway (see what the heck is a Moki Dugway), to crossing the Andes, descending toward Cerro Castillo and finally ascending to Machu Picchu. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I loved riding on the roads.
We just had earthquake number 30 since we moved to Chile. We had just gotten back from a trip to the Lakes District and the northern part of Patagonia so it was like a welcome home tremor. It was a small 5.0 tremor and Wooly slept through it. Raeski didn’t.
We are now packing our bags for our return to the U.S. this Wednesday. Living in Chile has been a great experience that we would do again if we had a chance to start all over. Our latest trip like all the rest included things that made you say WOW!
We started in the Lakes district of Chile where volcanoes, active and dormant are almost everywhere you look. Flying over Chile is amazing. It’s just one volcano after another including the highest volcano in the world (Ojos del Salado – eyes of salt). There are over 500 volcanoes in Chile, of which over 100 are considered active. And you thought Chile was all about earthquakes.
We stayed in Frutillar on the edge of Lago Llanquihue (yawn key way) where Volcán Osorno dominates the landscape. It is called the Mt. Fuji of South America due to its resemblance to Japan’s famous volcano. Wooly has been fortunate to see both and agrees with the assessment. Here’s some photos of the volcano. What do you think?
There is a road that leads part way up the Osorno. From there you can take a chair lift even higher. At the end of the chair lift there is still another 1,000 meters elevation before the summit is reached (2,652 meters, 8701 feet). Of course one must cross the glaciers to climb it. Many climbers have lost their lives on the mountain. But you’ll have to wait for that story another day.
The second part of our trip took us to the northern part of Patagonia. From Puerto Montt we took a ferry to Puerto Chacabuco. From there a transfer bus took us to Aysen. We had a room reserved in Aysen for the evening but our ferry was 10 hours late and we arrived in the morning. Since our hotel room was already paid for we stopped in for a 3 hour hotel stay. (Neither Wooly or Raeski had ever done that before!) Since the room was paid for we wanted a long hot shower and breakfast. And we got it!
After our three hour stay (no, this isn’t a TV show) we climbed onto another bus and headed to Coyhaique (Coy I kay). The ride was stunning as there seemed to be a waterfall around even bend in the road. Sadly we were on a bus and couldn’t capture the beauty of the place. It is definitely a place we would like to spend more time.
The next day we went to Cerro Castillo. Again, amazing scenery that must be experienced to fully appreciate. One interesting fact about the area is that the forest there is denser than the Amazon jungle. So it really is an important global biological resource. There are more photos to come in later but enjoy these two teasers.
Now back to packing…
In South American small towns invariably have a square in the middle. Even in the most modest of towns the square is an important place. There will be a church, some restaurants and streets radiating out from the square where commerce takes place.
The hat is very important in Peru. Each region has distinctive hats. In Chivay they take it to another level with hat sculptures. They are irresistible to children and sometimes accidents happen. Some child may have spilled ice cream on the last hat. The sculptures are designed so you can sit on them and rest weary legs and feet.
If you’ve had a tiring day you can always take a taxi. However don’t look for the standard black taxi or collectivo here. Each taxi owner personalizes their ‘cab’. It’s quite the creative use of a motorcycle.
Chivay’s marketplace is quite orderly. In Chivay each area of the marketplace has a purpose. If you want groceries you go to one area and for other items you find the area where it’s being sold.
We also went on a hike outside of town that took us up on a hill that overlooked the town. We highly recommend taking that walk. The views are great at the edge of town.
Those views get even better outside of town. And if you go you may even see someone walking to town with child in tow and their llama. We really liked the bridge and appreciate the amount of work that must have gone into building it.
I believe surprises can be placed in two categories – ones that are pleasant and ones that are not. After the ride to Chivay there was still a lot of daylight left so we walked to the town square. We knew the square is where all the action is found in small South American towns and Chivay is small. On the way to the square we were pleasantly surprised. The road to the square was lined with statues of folklore characters. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
We knew the Andean Condor could be spotted at the tip of South America but we never expected to see them up close while hiking in Torres del Paine (TDP). When TDP went on the bucket list we didn’t even know the condors were down there. When we learned they were there we ‘hoped’ we would see one or two.
This wasn’t our first encounter with the Andean Condor but we think this one’s the best. It happened in the wild. In Peru we went to Colca Canyon and saw about 50. This made us think that someone must be tossing dead animals over the cliffs of the canyon to keep the birds all bunched up there. Here in TDP we only saw them in pairs flying many miles apart from each other.
But anyway, it was on our second day in the park when we saw them – first at a distance and further up the trail. We kept our eyes peeled for them and Wooly had his camera ready as we hiked. The spectacular moment happened just after we reached the high point on the trail and got settled in for lunch.
Soon we heard some people up on the hill cry out so we knew what was about to happen. Wooly was able to turn around and snap off three shots as the condor closed in on us. The condor had his eye on us as he flew directly over – no more than 20 feet (3 meters). Then Wooly spun around and got the final shot. Of the four pictures three turned out well.
And with that we finished our lunch with Wooly hoping the pictures turned out okay. Now it’s your turn to enjoy the experience.
Our wish is for everyone to have a safe and happy evening tonight. While most of our readers are enjoying winter in the northern hemisphere we want to bless you with us basking in the warmth of a summer day on the Beagle Channel near Ushuaia.
There must be a party close by. Everyone looks like they are dressed for a black tie event. You know, a formal affair with the printed invitations and all. But we crashed the party and had a lot of fun even if we weren’t dressed to the nines. And with that, we checked off another item on the bucket list. We traveled to the end of the world and watched penguins in their natural habitat.
If you’ve seen them on television or in a movie – know this – they are even more adorable and mesmerizing in person. Athletes in the water and not so much on land which may be why we love them so much. Their awkwardness on land completely belies the power and grace they possess in the water.
We feel fortunate to have seen them in person. Sadly, as with many animals, the penguins are suffering from global warming. Of the 18 species of penguins, 11 are declining in population and considered an extinction risk, two are considered stable and we don’t have enough data on the other five. Magellanic are at risk because they breed in warmer areas and are susceptible to sunburn.
My hide gets chaffed when I see these magnificent creatures threatened by something we can do something about. When 97% of scientists believe global warming is caused by man, you just have to wonder about the 3% who aren’t. Back in the days of tobacco, 5% of scientists – funded by the tobacco industry – didn’t believe smoking was bad for you. I have ceased calling these people climate change deniers or skeptics. I believe the proper term for them should be CLIMATE DISINFORMATION PROPOGANDISTS (CDP).
Back in the 1980’s we did something about the hole in the ozone layer over the objections of industries that profited from manufacturing and using fluorocarbons. Do we miss the jobs that were lost back then? Or were those jobs really replaced with others that were more environmentally sound?
Anyway, the results are in. We have succeeded and the ozone layer is rebuilding and the hole is shrinking. If we choose to listen to reason and science and then act, we may be able to turn back the tide. Hopefully the human race will wake up and see through the lies of the CDP’s and demand we take action.
And the penguins? We could watch them for hours. Waddling about on land, swimming, wading (yes, they do that) and greeting each other as they stroll by each other. Most of the penguins we saw were Magellanic with the exception of one Gentoo penguin. He is the handsome fellow with the bright orange beak. Enjoy the photos.
Living in Chile this last year has enabled us to check off some of the places we have on our ever expanding bucket list. For the last two weeks we’ve been traveling around the southern tip of South America and got to experience a few more things on the list.
Visiting Torres del Paine and seeing penguins in their natural habitat were on the list. Seeing a glacier calve an iceberg is another truly worthy item on the list along with seeing really massive icebergs are a spectacle we wish everyone could experience in their life.
But today is all about the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia is affectionately known as the city “el fin del mundo” or “the end of the world”. Chileans will say Puerto Williams is further south but it is a town built around a naval outpost, not a city. So until Puerto Williams grows a lot more, Ushuaia has the honors of southernmost city in the world.
The setting is magnificent. Bordered by the Beagle Channel and surrounded by snow capped mountains, Ushuaia is postcard perfect. If you’re lucky the sun may come out allowing you to fully appreciate the splendor of the place. We were fortunate to have a rare day coupled with mild breezes and relative warmth. Well, at least for an afternoon.
For those who can afford the luxury; Ushuaia has a five star hotel. Nope, we didn’t stay there. However we did stay at a hotel with some great views of the Beagle Channel and surrounding mountains.
We walk a lot when on vacation and often stumble across things a bit off the beaten path. Here are a couple of things we saw while walking plus a picture of Raeski all decked out in her finest summer clothes trudging up the wooden walkway to our hotel.
A little over an hour inland from Viña del Mar is La Campana Nacional Parque. La Mina, an old quartz mine is one of the attractions in the park and was what drew us and a few of our fellow teaching comrades to tackle the five kilometer hike.
When you don’t own a car in Chile the adventure before the adventure begins with transportation. As you know from a previous post, when you step on a bus you hope the driver isn’t the ‘wild-eyed‘ variety. (woolyandraeski.com/2014/06/01/a-long-humorous-lesson-about-public-transportation-in-chile/). Today we were spared that indignity but the transportation adventure has a second part.
After escaping the bus with our lives our destination was still several kilometers away. In Chile the next phase of the adventure is surviving a ‘colectivo’ taking you to your destination. A colectivo is a sort of taxi that whisks you to your destination at a dangerously high rate of speed. A colectivo gets its name from the way they ‘collect’ their victims. The driver keeps stopping and picking up new victims until his colectivo is full. Then the driver is happy and continues the adventure at a breakneck pace to your destination. In our case we filled two colectivos and the happy drivers raced each other up the mountain to La Campana.
Having safely arrived at the park we were ready to stretch our legs and enjoy our hike. It was a gorgeous 70°F/25°C degree mid-winter day. So up the hill we went. And up, and up, and up… Soon we were thinking “Where’s the down or level where you get to rest a bit while walking?” The trail ended up being almost all uphill to the destination.
After several hours of ascent and a few breathing breaks we reached the mine and stopped for lunch. While eating lunch we enjoyed a peek-a-boo view of the snow covered Cordillera de Los Andes. (Andes Mountains) Having learned our lesson about overdoing it (woolyandraeski.com/2014/03/30/pass-the-salt/) we chose to relax while our much younger comrades pushed on to climb the rest of the 1.8 kilometer hike which was steeper, rockier and more exhausting.
We started our descent at a more leisurely pace and were delighted to share our path with a fox along the way. And down we went. And down, and down, and down… Remember wanting that rest on the way up? Now those little used downhill muscles were starting to protest their overuse. I guess even leisurely can be overdone when you are tired.
After our exhausting day we all wanted to sleep on the metro (train) ride home. From the next day’s perspective we can assure you we made the right decision to take time to relax and not push beyond our limits. And we think we gave our younger teaching comrades something to aspire to in 30 years.
We all have them and sometimes we wish we could try again or maybe take them back. So what do you do with those photos that miss the mark? And this is where the story begins…
I had a photo I really liked but it just didn’t POP. I loved the composition of the tree and the way its white branches led the eye across the photo. However, the white didn’t pop and got lost in the background foliage. I did all the normal things one could do in Lightroom but nothing portrayed what my eye saw.
In frustration I slid the Saturation slider bar to full saturation. And wow did the white ever explode out of the photo! A few more adjustments and I had something I really liked. What a great reminder this was that our photography is an art. Sycamore Acid was created and the “World on Acid” series was given birth.
I would love to hear what everyone thinks of these – both positive and negative comments are all welcome. So please let me know what you think…