Wait For It, Wait For It…

19 06 2008

Posted by: Laura, visited 4.09.08

The forty year old woman sitting in front of me on the bus was smiling like a five year old on Christmas morning. I wiped away the condensation on the window and peered out expecting to see the glaciar, our destination. But I only saw snow flurries accumulating on the pine trees. I leaned forward to ask her if she could see it. ¨Oh, isn´t it great!¨ she beamed. I must have looked confused because she added, ¨This is the first time in my life I´ve seen snow.¨ My new friend was from Brazil and had travelled to the south of Argentina to see the Perito Moreno Glaciar.

Chris and I had been sitting in Puerto Natales, Chile for the past five days waiting for the rain to stop so we could start our camping trip through Torres del Paine National Park. After travelling down to almost the bottom of South America (only a 12 hour bus ride to the port where you catch boats to Antartica), we found a place to rent camping gear, bought a map, calculated how much food we would need for ten days, discovered that freeze dried food doesn´t exist in Puerto Natales, bought enough pasta to feed a polar bear, then went back to our hostel to find a sopping wet group of unhappy campers whose tours had been cancelled due to bad weather in the park. So we waited. We had taken forty hours of buses to get down here, what was a day or two of waiting. Luckily our hostel had a TV (and cable), so we were able to enjoy some Chilean wine while we caught up on Law and Order and discovered the new season of Dr. House. After three days, the rain was still falling. We decided to hop across the boarder to Argentina (only a five hour bus ride) to El Calafate and Glaciar National Park.

So now we were driving through a wintry Narnian landscape to visit one of the only glaciars in Patagonia that is growing and not shrinking. What if we couldn´t see the glacier because of the snow. ¨Don´t worry,¨ our bus driver assured us, ¨you´ll see it.¨ As our bus pulled up, I saw a huge mass of ice that stretched to the horizon and dissappeared into the cloud of snow. The snow was falling, but not enough to obscure our view of the glacier rising sixty feet above the water.

While we heard the glaciar creaking and saw huge ice chunks floating in the water, we didn´t see any of them fall. We walked down a series of walkways to get different views of the glaciar. Until they built the walkways in the 1970´s about one person per year died from getting hit by falling ice chunks. However, we also saw a lady sprain her ankle on the icy steps. I guess you can´t win.

Although it wasn´t my first time to see snow, I had never seen a massive glaciar before. Not a bad consolation prize for sitting around waiting for the rain to stop.

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