Sunday, February 5, 2017

More of Tierra del Fuego.


From Parque Pingüino Rey, it would take us almost five hours of driving (and one short ferry ride) to get back to Punta Arenas.

The scenery on Tierra del Fuego, at the least the part we drove through is pretty flat.  I didn't see any crops growing but this is land that is perfect for grazing but we saw plenty of sheep and llamas   and passed by one estancia after another.  According to this New York Times article, Chile produces 24 million pounds of wool annually and much of that wool comes from Tierra del Fuego. European and Chilean ranchers settled here just before the turn of the 20th century and little has changed for ranchers since then.

We stopped for a very quick photo op at one of the estancias - Esctancia Caleta Josefina.  The estancia was founded by the Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego as a sheep ranch in 1893 and was one of the most successful ranches in Tierra del Fuego. Today, all that remain are the health post and a large galpón (storehouse), probably the oldest in the region.



The galpón (storehouse).


It was one rolling field after another.  Soon, I had nodded off.


I remember waking up just as we arrived into a small town.  I don't even know the name of the place but we all got dropped off outside this small museum complex as our driver needed to go into town proper and get gas.  Today is Sunday so everything was closed....even the museum.  All of us just loitered around as we waited for our driver to return.



A short drive later and well, we had arrived at the ferry terminal at Bahia Azul.  No doubt, we had reached the end of the road even if there hadn't been a sign to tell us so :-)


When we arrived on the ferry to Tierra del Fuego, there was no welcome sign but there was one here so we all took the obligatory photo....proof as well as a reminder that we had indeed spent time here!



Our ferry ride this morning crossed the Strait of Magellan from Punta Arenas to Porvenir and took about 2 hours.  This afternoon, we crossed over to a point about 170 kilometers north of Punta Arenas.


We didn't have to wait long before we boarded the ferry.     



Everyone, except for our driver, got out of the van and headed to the upper deck to take in the view.  It would be a short 20 minute ride to the other side.




Before we knew it, it was time to get back in the van.  We had arrived at the terminal at Punta Delgada.





About half hour later, we made our last stop for the day.....at another estancia.  This one held special spot in our guide's heart.  He had worked here for several years when he was younger.  He treated to a visit.


There was not a single person around but the doors were not locked so all followed him inside.  This was the shearing shed.  It looked very run down and not exactly the cleanest or neatest of places but if the bales of raw wool were any indication, this place is still very much in operation.


There were dozens of shearing pens.  As our guide stepped us through the shearing process, I could imagine this place filled with dozens of men and a seemingly endless flow of sheep in and out of the pens.




Our guide really came to life when he was in this place.  No doubt it brought back a lot of memories for him.




After our sheep shearing lesson, it was about another hour before we arrived back in to Punta Arenas.  On the way, Bro asked the guide and driver for suggestions for places to eat.  They advised us to check out several restaurants on Bernardo O'Higgins, a street located not all that far from our apartment. It sounded good at first but given the late hour that we would be arriving back in to town and the fact that we really didn't know the city all that well yet, I had second thoughts about going out.  I was particularly concerned about getting back to the apartment at a very late hour - would it be safe to walk?  I also wondered that given that it was a Sunday night, how many of the restaurants would even be open for dinner.  So, after mulling it all over, I mentioned my concerns to Bro and we decided to stay in for dinner instead.  I promised Bro we would do dinner out tomorrow as we have all day to explore Punta Arenas on our own.

Indeed, by the time we got back to the apartment, it was close to 9:30p but still bright outside as the sun would not set for at least another half hour.  We made dinner and then just relaxed the rest of the night.  Tomorrow, we have a free day to explore the city so it'll be an easy day to just kick back a bit.

Goodnight from Punta Arenas!