“Look at us. We are having lunch in Patagonia.” That is what Greg said to me today. In actual fact we were sitting on an air-conditioned bus (the brochure said ‘may not be up to North American standards’) with a box lunches on our laps. We left Wyona home on the ship. This was not the tour for her. The brochure also said, ‘dusty, bumpy, do not take this tour if you have a bad back or a bad neck’.
Our assistant dinner waiter told us the night before that he has a girl friend who is from Lethbridge. “Look at this landscape,” said Greg. “Just like Lethbridge. The heat, the low dry grasses, the high wind and flat, flat plain. I can hardly wait to go back and tell Santiago (our waiter) that he doesn’t have to come to Lethbridge. He can just enjoy Puerto Madryn, Argentina and save himself the trip to Lethbridge.”
I explained to Wyona at lunch, “The trip was 7 hours. Five of the hours were in a coach. I am going to show you one of my pictures out of the window and make you look at it 100 times. The same picture. Then you will know what it was like to travel the 5 hours in the coach. The view never changed. No people in the fields. No change of vegetation. No change in the velocity of the wind (always over 40 mph). No change in height of the dust as it would rise from the gravel road as the bus lumbered along toward the coast. The driver only slowed down at cattle gates. The guide explained that it takes 2 acres of land to support each sheep, so to have 60,000 sheep a rancher would need a hacienda of 120,000 acres. In Canadian terms, that is a lot of land. Sheep ranching is all we saw.
We were on our way to the Valdes Peninsula Nature Reserve, an ideal spot to check out nature in action: southern elephant seals, magellanic penguins, sea birds, southern sea lions, choiques (Darwin’s reas) and guanacos. The bus pulled over for the choiques and guanacos. They are shy. The minute the bus slows down, the animals began to travel in the opposite direction. I also saw a little partridge like bird on the other side of the road. I was supposed to be looking to the right and seeing the choiques on the other side of the bus, but it is possible to look in the wrong direction and see nature.