Return to Valparaiso

Everett writes:

Now that we have returned to Valparaíso our home schooling begins in earnest. We try to get up and to the library to write each morning by around ten o’clock. I read the sports section of the local newspaper each day, and I am giving Spanish lessons to my Mom and brother. I am also in the process of finding a trumpet teacher. I am staying busy by studying for four AP tests. I enjoy the freedom of learning what I want.

I also try to play soccer every day. The local soccer field almost always has a pickup game going. My soccer team has been on vacation but they are coming back shortly and I am excited to play and hang out with them more soon this summer.

Living here comes with the challenge of eating here. With a small kitchen and no oven it is difficult to feed four people. We are exploring our neighborhood for a good cheap restaurant but are yet to find one. There are lots of fresh fruits and vegetables from the markets and we are experimenting to try and recreate the great strawberry mint lemonades we have had here. We have also tried to make a completo, a popular food here. Completo’s consist of a hot dog filled with tomato, avocado and mayonnaise.

Ian writes:

Returning to Valparaiso wasn’t exciting or exhilarating: the only emotions that I felt was that of relief, that the Patagonia trip was over.

The final days were spent in Santiago, with my family staying in a hotel room. We then left to find a subway, with all of our luggage. We shoved, pushed, pulled, yanked, and kicked our luggage down the bustling streets to the nearest entrance, which was, of course, closed. Four blocks and one broken suitcase wheel later, my family and I arrived at another subway entrance, this time, it was blocked off by the police. Yay.

After a very cramped taxi (yes we managed to fit all of us in one taxi), we arrived at the place where we supposedly get tickets or a bus to Valparaiso; nothing is ever as easy as it seems. We looked and looked for the ticket terminal, and realized, that it’s at a mall a couple of blocks away. Upon arrival to this mall, we learned that the bus terminal is actually down the street, four blocks away.

Eventually, we managed to sort everything out, we got tickets and was to board a bus at station 8 or 9, either one works. We stand around for a while until some nice person tells us that the bus we’re looking for is on the other side of the complex. That figured out, we finally board the CORRECT bus, and head back to Valparaiso, finally.

Patagonia

My family hopes you all had happy holidays and that your new year is off to a great start. Ours certainly is. We have been exploring the South of Chile and Argentina for the past two weeks and wanted to share some of our experiences with you.

Tierra Del Fuego

https://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/infopage/tierradelfuego.htm

We flew in to Punta Arenas, a very cold and windy city in the South of Chile. From there we were able to pick up our camper van and stock it with food and supplies for our upcoming adventures. First we crossed the Strait of Magellan on a ferry and landed on the windswept and chilly island known as Tierra Del Fuego which translates to land of fire. We stayed entirely on the Chilean side. Our first stop was Karukinka National Park. This park is said to host only 400 visitors annually.

The next stop was Caleta Maria, the end of the road in Tierra del Fuego. A truly incredible place.

There is a small group of shacks at the edge of a bay with mountains rising so high on either side that snow was visible in the middle of summer. The locals told us that elephant seals and penguins lived in the bay and that on one island, albatross land to mate. This was the most remote place we visited during the trip, and it would take almost a full day of driving from ferry docks, but we would highly recommend anyone traveling in this area to see it for themselves.

Torres Del Paine

Next we drove North and visited arguably one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Patagonia: Torres del Paine national park.

We left at 7:00 am to hike up to this point in order to beat the crowds.

This was another gorgeous park full of mountains, waterfalls and glacial lakes. The three pointy mountains in the center were the main attraction; the hike to the closest viewpoint of them became quite crowded. However, it was such a big park that it was possible to get away from the crowds and still see the incredible views.

We got lucky with a clear enough day that we could see the peaks from far away.

Los Glaciares National Park

We drove across the Argentinian border and all the way up to El Chaltén a touristy village with incredible views at the base of the FitzRoy mountain range. We took our longest hike of the trip up to the base of Mount Fitzroy.

We saw several people jump into the freezing lake pictured at the bottom of this picture

We saw several glaciers on our hike up to Mount Fitzroy, but we were able to drive to Calafate, a nearby town, that was closer to a larger glacier. We were lucky enough to see it calve before our eyes which was an incredible experience.

From the water level to the tips of the glacier is nearly 70 meters in some places

Patagonia is a stunning natural area. We found that no matter where we went we saw incredible views. Because of that we recommend that you escape the crowds by going to a place like Caleta Maria or even just pulling off of main highways and exploring the dirt country roads. Ultimately, Patagonia is an incredible place no matter if you see it alongside thousands of other people or alone in the wilderness.

Please enjoy some poetic musings that Tierra del Fuego inspired my brother to write.

Tierra del Fuego

Land of Fire

The wind hurls itself across the open plains; like a starving animal it claws its way over the scraggly grasses. The wind launches itself at the mountains, sweeping away all in its path. The few animals still out, hunker down, desperately seeking refuge. It whips past the rivers, screaming like that of the dead seeking vengeance upon the living. Clawing at all in its wake, eternal, hungry. Its cold hands reach out from the south, like an uncaged creature, ravenous, it lunges for you. Sweeping across. Consuming all.

The clouds sweep across the sky, like a thick blanket of grey, blocking all warmth from the sun. The light fades, but the night does not rise, the sun lays just behind the hill, shining, empty warmth reminding you of the cold. The sky remains palely lit, the clouds suffocating.

Still, the wind howls, its dark grasp ever present. It whips over the ridge, grasping at the loose earth. It strips you bare, holding you in its icy grasp. There is no escape. It hurls itself at the world, trying to shake it down, to raze it to the ground. The very foundations of reality quake, shake, quiver, before the howling gale.

The sun sets, what little warmth has fled from the encroaching cold. The perpetual twilight that is night emerges, the wind howling in victory. It shakes the room, smashes the windows, bangs the door, the fire snuffs out, finally defeated, the last resistance is gone.

It is eternal,

And it is hungry for more.