Towers of the Emerald Blue

“Paine” is a Mapuche word meaning emerald blue, or, if you prefer, blue green. So “Torres del Paine” gets its name from the towering, unusually shaped mountains and the icy clear Lake Pehoe.

Normally, this area is buffeted by high winds and lots of rain. Laura and Maria, our guides, have reminded us how very fortunate we are to be experiencing this incredible weather. It could change at any moment, but so far we have beaten the odds.

Last night we took advantage of having an astrophysicist in our midst and persuaded Mike to give the group an impromptu lecture on the southern skies. We were so very lucky: the phase of the moon was perfect for viewing. It wasn’t so bright that it obscured the stars. We saw the Milky Way and the Magellanic Cloud, a rare treat. Too dark for photos–you just have to take my word that it was magnificent. And Mike was really pretty amazing too.

I DO have other photos that will give you an idea of the grandeur and beauty of this National Park.

During yesterday afternoon’s first hike, we battled head winds that made those two miles feel a whole lot longer.

The sun wasn’t in the best position for photos, but I liked this shot of some of our group admiring the view.

One advantage of staying at one of the three hotels within the park was getting an early start. THAT allowed us to hike to the perfect spot so we could catch this gorgeous reflection on the lake.

It was a 4 mile hike that, according to my Fitbit, was the equivalent of climbing 43 flights of stairs. Believe it or not, it was a much easier than yesterday’s shorter hike because the wind wasn’t blowing.

We were able to see this waterfall from a distance AND up close.

Once again, our timing was perfect. On our return trip the light was just right for the mist to create rainbow after rainbow.

Okay, so the surrounding area wasn’t picture perfect, but that was the best angle to capture the rainbow.

Another amazing day in Patagonia, and it’s not even over yet. One more hike this afternoon.

Punta Arenas

Trivia question for you. Where can you find replicas of the ships of Magellan and Darwin, the ship used to claim this area for Chile, and the lifeboat that Shackleton used to get to the mainland to get help for his crew stranded in Antarctica? I’ll give you a hint. It’s the title of this post.

Magellan’s ship, Victoria

Darwin’s ship, The Beagle.

The small boat in the foreground was the one Shackleton used after The Endurance sank. The bigger one got the Chileans to this area so they could claim it for Chile.

Other notable images from Punta Arenas follow:

The huge monument to Magellan in the main square across from our hotel has carvings on all four sides, with a rather arrogant Magellan atop.

Punta Arenas was a very wealthy area at one time, and the cemetery reflects that abundance.

This mural honoring Gabriela Mistral is on the side of the school she founded (more about her later)

Sara Braun’s mansion faces the main square. This is ANOTHER good story that has to wait till I get home.

This morning, we are heading to remote areas where Wi-Fi could be nonexistent.

Although the distances don’t appear to be great, this appearance definitely IS deceiving. We will spend most of today traveling to Torres del Paine, stopping along the way for a hike, weather permitting.

Two days later, we will be on a longer drive, to El Calafate. From there we fly to Buenos Aires.

For all the map lovers, that one is for you. ❤️

Chiloe Island

How often does one get to photograph a sunrise without getting out of bed?

For me, the answer is probably once in my lifetime. (If all goes well, my iPhone will upload the photo and I’ll be able to share the view).

The “Enjoy Chiloe” Hotel in Castro, the capital of Chiloe Island, makes the most of its spectacular location. All rooms have floor to ceiling windows facing the bay. And the bay experiences spectacular tides. That photo was taken during low tide. During high tide, the inhabitants are grateful their houses were built on stilts!

The hotel has a spa, a casino and a nightclub. The casino held zero appeal for me, but the night club definitely had potential, until I say the sign posting the hours it was as open. Midnight to 5 AM??!! Not for this girl. That left the spa. The choice was between pool and hot tub versus drinking pisco sours and wine on the terrace.

Here’s what I chose.

Yes, each region has its own take on pisco sours. Chiloe Island adds a berry that only grows locally which gives it the unusual color.

We were blessed with perfect weather, which made our boat trip to view the Magellanic penguins delightful.

We had a unique way to board our boat. What looked like a shopping cart was pulled into the bay.

No need to get our feet wet.

There is so much more to say about this wonderful island, but it is time to leave for Puerto Montt.