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The C on the shower knob stands for Caliente!

ARGENTINA | Wednesday, 26 January 2011 | Views [1652] | Comments [1]

Hello world! Those of you following the last segment know that we have just finished reading about our amazing 5 day trek through Torres del Paine…what an amazing experience! Getting from there to our next destination of Puerto Madryn is a trek in itself, all the way on the Atlantic coast of Argentina and quite a way to the North…long story short, 3 days and 5 buses later we arrived to Puerto Piramides, the only town located on the Peninsula Valdes, just outside of Puerto Madryn. The peninsula and encompassed nature reserve is loaded with marine life. We got off the bus and walked about a quarter mile or so into the campground, which happened to be right next to the beach, maybe 50 yards away.

Turns out that the beach was the only attraction of this campground…the place was hot, sandy and had very little shade to speak of. It is really set up more for trailers and car-camping more than backpackers. Considering we aren’t able to carry things like chairs, firewood, a table, etc. Regardless, after all that traveling, taking another bus to find a different spot was out of the question, so we found the best spot we could and set up shop. That night wasn’t bad, besides having no where to sit, we were able to buy some firewood and grill up some steaks, chase that with a cold beer and we were ready for bed.  Next morning however, not so good, the wind picked up big time and this place turned into a sand storm, so there we are, sitting in the sand, eating crunchy cereal (from sand in it) and we quickly determined it was time to find a hostel.

We headed out on a search only to discover that January is month when almost every Argentine person takes vacation…every decently priced place in town was full. And so, we were back on bus to the big city, Puerto Madryn to stay there. There are tour companies that you can use to see the animals on the peninsula, but we really like to do things on our own and so the next morning we rented a car and headed back to the peninsula. It was really amazing, for whatever reason this area attracts everything from penguins to blue whales depending on the time of year. The first spot we went to was closed but the second provided a great view of the basking Elephant seals, these suckers get a big as 15ft long, story goes that after spending months at sea collecting food for their young, they come to shore to molt and breed…looks to me like a bunch of people laying by the pool in Vegas after partying all night…these guys do almost nothing. But still cool to see them so close and in their natural habitat. The second spot was probably my favorite; here we came to a Penguin colony! I had thought that all Penguins live on the snow and ice, but not these guys, they live in dirt, digging nests near the low shrubs. Here is where the eggs hatch and we were there just in time to see many fluffy, baby penguins waddling around. They were so cute, about 2ft tall and not scared of us at all, at times it almost seemed like they were posing for camera (all this without anyone feeding them as well). Lastly was the Sea lions, while I’m sure that I’ve seen them in zoo at some point I didn’t realize the similarities with actual lions. The males have huge manes of hair around their head. Besides that, they are extremely aggressive, constantly barking and fighting with each other, with a close look you could see that almost all of them are bleeding at least a little…I guess this may have to do with mating season, but just a guess. This completed our tour of the peninsula, covering 260miles or so.

Next day, we were back on bus and headed north to Mar del Plata…probably the #1 beach vacation spot for Argentina. Mardel (as the locals call it) is home to 550 hotels, and in January, they are almost all full! The popular beaches are packed wall to wall with tents and towels while companies have areas with private beach booths that you can rent out to avoid someone putting their tent on top of your towel. But , there are many, many different beaches even right in town, so you can typically find whatever you’re looking for, crowded party scene, or the more laidback family scene where the local tea “Mate” replaces cerveza. This “Mate” by the way, had got to be by far, the most popular drink in Argentina, on some beaches, almost everyone would carry their own large thermos of hot water just to make sure they could continually replenish their glass. While on the subject, the Argentines love to smoke as well, I’ve never been to France, but I can’t imagine any country smokes more cigarettes than here. Even the “Prohibido Fumar” signs don’t really seem to enforced either, as we’ve seen people smoking anywhere and everywhere.

We spent 3 nights in Mardel, with the majority of that time just laying on beach and soaking in the rays, a nice change from the wind and cold of southern Patagonia. The hostel situation was tough, couldn’t find anywhere with 3 nights free, so we had to move on the second day, but it was a short walk. It was also nice getting a chance to speak with some locals, all the Argentines that speak English always ask, “where are you from?” Usually the hostels we stay in are full of backpackers from all over the world, but here, they were all Argentine, and were cooking up some mean BBQ (Parilla, pronounced “Parisha”) at night. Dinner is also done very late here, many locals don’t eat until 10, 11 or 12pm…not just the young people, but older folks and families with small children alike. It has taken some time, but I think we have adjusted to schedule. A couple nights ago, we found ourselves late for meeting friends at 11:30p, because we were still eating?! We went out to hit the clubs one night in Mardel and discovered that the clubs don’t get packed until 2am! Partying until the sun comes up is pretty normal, also, the drinking age is only 18 but no one is really checking ID’s anyway.

Mardel also has some nice casino’s…so when in rome, we hit up Casino Central, Sophia’s game is Roulette and I prefer Blackjack…believe it or not, we both came out ahead, about $50 each, always a nice feeling to leave a casino with more cash than you came in with!

Sophia is gonna pick it up from here as we head to Buenos Aires! Don’t miss the next installment when I get my new Tattoo!


Tags: beaches, elefantes marino, gambling, penguins, peninsual valdes, reserva faunistica, sea lions




Love the blog and pictures! You guys continue to Rock It!
Can't wait to see you though and actually touch you guys with big hugs!!!
Looking forward to the next installment!

  Mom Isis Jan 27, 2011 3:23 PM

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