Our driver, Elliecer Reys, arrived in his SUV and we toured the town briefly for gas which had obviously arrived that afternoon. However, the lineups were long and we promptly took our leav
e. I had made accomodation arrangements for us all in El Calafate. Avoiding some of the major routes where he suspected we might hit roadblocks, we traveled on major routes that were full of loose gravel. At one point, we left the ‘old road’ to try the ‘new road’ but the new road was even worse with gravel so thick it made huge furrows. The pain in my side and shoulder made me hang on to the inside handles to suspend me from the constant jostling. By 9:00 pm, we reached El Calafate and noticed huge lineups for gas here as well but also large influx of tourists. My left foot had begun to swell immensely and we managed to phone the doctor back at the hospital. He directed the pharmacist to change my prescription. The next day, having overheard my conversation with Shari over prescriptions, Eliiecer had placed a phone call to Switzerland to his daughter who spoke English and was also familiar with medicine. So, on the second day of our trip to Puntas Arenas, his cell phone chirped and he passed the phone to me, his very surprised occupant. When she explained who she was and why she was calling, I reviewed my medication with her. It t
urned out that i had mis-understood what medication was for antibiotics and what was a pain killer. What a relief to have someone explain things to me so clearly – and all the way from Switzerland.
After 2 days, I asked Eliezer if we could take a side trip thru Torres del Paine National Park
and the Los Glacieres Park to see the mountains and the glaicers. He explained that the glaciers were in the wrong directi
on. But, after checking with his boss, he agreed he could take me to Torres del Paine for an additional charge. I hadn’t come all this way to pause even a second for an additional cost and so we headed into the very rough, but exceedingly beautiful park. Although many of my photo images were taken from the car window, they exceeded the beauty and ruggedness I had dreamed of. It was a wonderful day and we ended up staying the next night at Puerto Natales. In fact, we were somewhat early and Eliezer took us to the Singular Museum, a reconditioned old foundry that had been turned into a large Inn. The tour was successful and we photographed the birds in the harbour. T
he next day was a trip to Puntas Arenas itself, home for Eliezer and our arrival was planned to coincide with the bikers returning from Ushuaia. It was clear that Eliezer had enjoyed our company and he explained that whenever he got delayed due to gas-shortage strikes, he pulled out his book on South American birds. He gave me the book for our journey home.
We met up with bikers as they dismantled GPS and the like from their bikes and they looked exhausted. Many of them greeted me but there were clearly too tired to rap for long. We met them that night for a farewell dinner but, this time, I was exhausted and took an early departure. Some of the stories heard were of extremely strong winds, and grinding thru gravel. Some mentioned the glaciers which they found interesting but one thing stood out. Not one person I talked to said they were sorry it was over. They all seemed to look forward to being home, although some had extremely long airplane travels.
Shari and I ended
up staying one more day in Puntas Arenas. We paid Eliezer’s boss and left a largish bonus for our driver for delivering us safely. The manager of the travel business was so pleased with the money he offered to have a driver take us to the airport for free, and certainly he was true to his word. On our last day in Argentina, we toured a Naval museum, walked the streets looking for souvenirs but found little and rested up for our long trip on Feb 10. It was fitting that our final hotel was called Hotel of Dreams