Left Chile for Argentina and El Calafate. The border is only a few minutes away and clearing the Chilean and Argentinian check points went pretty smoothly. As the crow flies, Calafate would probably be an hour away, but we have to drive miles east, then north, then back west around the Andes – now about three to four hours.
Our hosts were a family of sheep ranchers who open their house and farm for visitors to the area to supplement their income. They have several thousand acres of land (The ranches in Patagonia can be enormous, measuring hundreds of thousands of acres) where they work with over 8,000 sheep, selling their wool to an American company that, I turn, sells wool and accessories and plans for projects using the raw material.
The owner/rancher gave a great talk about his farm, it’s history and current situation, and look to the future. His father came from Scotland, landed in Buenos Aires, and bought into the land rush in Patagonia, setting up the expansive ranch and buying sheep to get the business going. Now they have had to reduce their sheep population from 13,000 to about 8,000 because of things related to climate change like invasives taking over the grasses – in part because of the relatively recent lack of extremes in winter and summer.
Luna, his retired working dog set up an amazing show for us, following the commands from the farmer and moving the sheep to where the belonged. I have a long video of the action that I’ll try to get to you via YouTube shortly. Hey Bob Collins, does that remind you of your incredible dog?
An hour or so later we arrived in El Calafate, Argentina. It’s now primarily a busy tourist town of about 25,000 people, a step off to the Argentinian Patagonia wonders. And, we arrive at the beginning of a days long music festival. Sounds great, right? Not so much as the venue is just a couple of blocks from out hotel and runs until one or two in the morning. It sounds like they are performing in our bathroom, but we did fall asleep after just a couple of numbers.
Tomorrow we take off past the Lago Argentina as we head for one of the world’s only advancing glaciers left (While the others are mostly receding), the Perino Moreno Glacier. The weather is improving. Ready?