I am writing back-to-back entries because you really want to hear Jill's voice for February 23. Trust me...
We had to get up around 6am so we could eat something before a long day of driving with a departure at 7am. This surely pleased the other guests at the estancia
who got to hear several rolling bags echoing through the accommodations but I guess this is something the tour company can manage. We drove 90 minutes on dirt roads to El Calafate where some business got taken care of including Jill mailing actual post cards to some lucky recipients.
The next adventure was crossing from Argentina to Chile via a bus of 12 tourists, a guide, and the driver. The approach to the crossing was gravel road for a while and we arrived at a couple of shacks to exit Argentina. We all filed out of the bus and into one of these shacks without power so we could get the exit stamp placed inside our passports. This wonderful facility lacked visible bathrooms (translation: bring your own TP and go behind the building) and power is from solar panels. But they've been overcast recently and today were working in the dark.
We then drove a couple of km to the Chilean facility which was a fairly modern building with bathrooms in full view of all people waiting to get the entrance stamp in Chile. In addition, we sent all of our bags through a screening machine so you know they had power. They also had some friendly dogs sniffing bags for fruit and other items. Finally, the road became paved beginning right here. The border crossings are definitely indicative of the current situations between Argentina and Chile. Go figure.
After lunch we got to Torres del Paine national park
and were given a chance to walk about 4 miles (which took us about 1.5 hours) with some decent elevation gain and then loss along the route. Jill and I witnessed two guanacos
fight each other about 30-40 meters from us and then one was chasing the other straight toward us. It avoided us and jumped a fence we were walking near and the chaser stayed on our side so we were pretty close to both of them at this point. Fortunately, they were staring at each other so we slowly walked away along the trail. We certainly didn't need another danger point where "animals were jumping us
Jill asked about the consumption of guanacos because they seem to be similar in numbers to kangaroos in Australia. Our guide, Claudio, responded that hunting season for them is very limited
and mostly not allowed in Chile.
My health meter was about 2/3 before the hike (lots of hacking cough) but dropped to about 1/2 by the end of this little journey. It took a bit out of me. I want to thank everyone for the well wishes in the past few days. I feel like I'm getting better, but I'm also on a strenuous hiking tour that is gonna take something out of even a healthy individual.
Jill brought some books with her
(I went all digital on my tablet) and keeps offering them to me before she donates them to wherever we are staying or one of the other tour members. I've read the first chapter of a couple but she handed me "Ready Player One
" by Ernest Cline and I got enough to keep going. The number and detail of 80's references in this book is astounding and it's a pretty good read so far (I'm close to halfway today).
We got to the hotel
and I decided I needed a shower before yet another late dinner. I ran the water for a while and it was basically light brown - lots of dirt in the water supply. Yay! I needed a shower too much so I just took one.
We had a decent buffet dinner with the group in the restaurant with a good variety of interesting stuff. And the Molten Chocolate Cake was pretty good too for a buffet.
Jill has two compartments locked on her suitcase on travel days and the smaller side compartment was locked but she could not find the key when we arrived here. She basically cleared out all bags and looked through everything trying to find it. After giving up, we asked the front desk if they had bolt cutters and they said they did.
Someone eventually showed up with something resembling pliers with a tiny area that might cut some wire, but not a bolt. The maintenance guy said "un momento" and walked out. This was a long moment (about 10 minutes) but he returned with a real cutting instrument about as long as human arms (NOTE: He was about 2 inches taller than Jill) and had to be careful to cut only the lock and not a good chunk of the entire bag. But he succeeded. And yet, another example of "you can't make this stuff up".