Impromptu vacation.

The forecast called for a full week of sunshine. It was also the first week I was scheduled to work five days which meant no all-day bike rides or campfires.

Last Monday, in the morning, a building in the proximity of my workplace was set ablaze. I wasn’t scheduled to work, but Yann was. I was able to pinpoint his location as the smoke that was billowing from downtown was visible from our apartment.

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That was more Welsh than expected.

I mentioned this before the trip, but now that I have experienced it, I have to say a 24+ hour journey by air is exactly as exhausting as it sounds.

It didn’t even have to be that long. When we booked the flights, Mélissa and I thought it would be fun to have an extended layover in NYC. We could drink martinis and visit the MoMA!

Great idea! Let’s do something fun while thinking about nothing else but how badly we want to get home!

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Hiking El Chalten.

In El Chalten, there are 6 hikes that start from various points of town: Laguna de los Tres, Chorrillo de Salto, Laguna Torre, Loma del Pliegue Tumbado, and Laguna Toro.

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All buses going into El Chalten are required to make a stop at the Visitor’s Centre for an orientation from the park ranger. Instead of listening to the park ranger’s lecture–because I cannot hear–I sized-up the other adventurers. Judging by the brand names on their technical gear, they were mostly European, but I was able to pick out a few Canadians from the crowd. (MEC, Canada Goose, La Cordee, are all brands that are a more reliable way of identifying a traveller as Canadian than the maple leaf patch!) I could see several ropes, carabiners, and climbing shoes sticking out of some people’s packs.

Mélissa gave me an overview of the park ranger’s address. The ranger had emphasized how the weather was often unpredictable and advised us to be well prepared for these sudden changes. The map that was distributed to us denoted the sections of the trails that were to be avoided in high winds.

This was serious business.

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Cave winos.

In 9,000 years from now, the recent graffiti that have been done over the 9,000-year-old graffiti found in the Walichu Caves will be just as revered by archaeologists.

Guide: “You see this painting? What do you think it is?”

Hesitant tourist: “Is it a penis?” *goofy shrug*

Guide, pretending he’s impressed by the tourist’s observation: “Correct! Thousands of years ago, in the 1980s, teenagers bonded with one another by drinking a sacred liquid mixture made of fermented malted barley and wheat called Quilmes beer * . They would then sketch phallic images on the rock face to signify their brotherhood.”

*The Argentinian equivalent of Budweiser.

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From tees to toques.

El Calafate: the place everybody has in mind when they picture Patagonia. In reality, Patagonia encompasses the southern half of Argentina and Chile. The land area measures 1.043 million km² and is, to the guanacos’ delight, mostly flat.

I watched the terrain pass underneath me from 30,000 feet for the duration of the one hour and forty-five minute flight from Trelew to El Calafate. Other than blue ribbons of sharply bending rivers, I spied with my little eye a whole lot of earth-toned nothingness. It was the desert, the world’s 8th largest and the least-talked-about!

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