Saturday, December 22, 2018

Argentinian Patagonia: Calafate and Perito Moreno Glacier

From the plane we looked out at Tierra del Fuego and then Patagonia—miles and miles of uninhabited hills and the occasional body of water. Before the trip, a friend of mine told me that Patagonia was good for getting a sense of your place in the world. I thought, don't worry, I can manage to be self-absorbed anywhere.

We boarded our flight cranky and hungry; the only food for sale at the airport was a small, $5 bag of chips, so we dug into our supply of granola bars, already sick of them. We were weary and wary. One of the many things that we anticipated could go wrong was not having a car in Calafate. The buses were not an option for our very compressed itinerary; if the car (or cars) had fallen through, we’d be in for some expensive private drivers. Latish on a Sunday is not an ideal time to rent a car in the tiny Calafate airport, and we weren’t sure we could do it, but Localiza apparently keeps its stall there open if there’s a late reservation. Localiza also has terrible, terrible reviews. As a backup, we’d booked another car for Monday morning (but we’d have lost time waiting for the place to open).

Upon landing, I waited for our luggage while Jason went to see if we had a car. As everyone else’s luggage emerged, I tried to gauge whether Jason was successfully filling out car paperwork or if he just couldn’t get back into the baggage claim area. I started to fret about my backpack (I had been very prepared to conquer Buenos Aires in the event of lost luggage, with enough clothes for a few days in my carry-on pack, but I’d become complacent because how do you lose bags between two tiny airports). Finally, mine came out... but Jason’s didn’t. An airport official came to tell me that all the bags were out, and pointed me to a dude to talk to in case one was missing. But I didn’t have Jason’s luggage tag, and he couldn’t get back in. I started to make my way over there when his bag finally emerged, to my enormous relief. I was even more relieved when I saw him signing papers at the Localiza counter. Localiza “upgraded” us to a ridiculous, banged up pickup truck, but we were in no position to complain. We headed into town, checked in to our B&B and headed straight to dinner. At 10pm, it was still light and entire families were just being seated for dinner.

This was after 10pm

We wined and dined, and turned in later than we'd have liked ahead of our early-morning outing to Perito Moreno Glacier.

We said goodbye to the glacier and left for Chalten for views of Cerro Fitz Roy.

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