Puerto Madryn, Argentina... Chasing mating whales
Oct 13, 2005
|The twelve (in actuality, thirteen) hours bus ride to Puerto Madryn was one of the nicest so far... Had a ticket for a semi-cama bus, but the one which arrived was an upgraded "cama" bus, like business class of a plane! Monika, who was in my hostel was also on the bus, and we giggled over the silly movie they'd put on together. Monika is the first Austrian traveller I have met so far, though from the way she speaks English, one can almost be fooled into thinking she's English! It's towards the end of her trip (though just under a month left) and she's quite indecisive about where to go, and was losing motivation to see much of Argentina. It's too much like Europe, and she confessed she was seriously considering going back up to Bolivia or Peru, where she could people watch the indigenous.
We got to Puerto Madryn pretty early in the morning, and thought that maybe we could rent a couple of bikes to Punto Lomo, about 17km away to see some sea lions. But we found out from the reception that it's quite a windy ride, and since we were not feeling a 100% from the overnight bus, we opted to go maybe on Friday instead. In the meanwhile, we booked ourselves onto a full day excursion, the next day, on a bus and boat to see the various marine life the Peninsula Valdés had to offer. It was really expensive, but then I have been prewarned by other travellers, and yet still wanted to come and see the animals. So what the heck!
In the early afternoon, I walked to the EcoCentre nearby. It looked quit close on the map, but it was hard work getting there. First it didn't help that I was walking in the opposite direction. Second was almost swept off my feet, not by some nice bloke, but by the fierce Patagonian wind sent by some penguin prince. Despite having my sunglasses on, some of the sand got into my eyes, causing some irritations. What's more, sometimes the gust of wind blow piles of sand across the road, hitting me square on my bare arms and exposed face. Man, did it hurt!!
I was glad to finally take shelter in the nicely built EcoCentre, to say the least! There was an exhibition explaining more about the marine life in the area, with lots of pretty pictures. The bit I liked the most was a small space, lined with pebbles, and some speakers installed playing different sounds of waves, birds, sea lions roaring etc. Very nice! The cafe came a close second, offering exotic teas and chocolatey chocolate brownies. Yum!!
We went to dinner too early (having said that, it was 6:30pm), but since we were hungry, had to be happy with hot sandwiches. That's the thing about Argentina. It's so Latino to the max, where lifestyle is concerned. Everything is late late late! But we had a tango class to go to at 8:30pm, so couldn't wait much longer.
Had found a listing for tango classes every Wednesday evenings in a little booklet, and thought it would be fun to try it out. Monika was also game for that, so it was nice to have someone to go with. At the Sports Centre though, started to have second thoughts about the whole thing, since I'm quite a useless dancer. But I'm glad I had stayed, as it was actually pretty good fun.
After some warm up exercises, we were separated into two groups - the beginners and the more experienced. The more advanced group had an even number of males and females, but as usual, in our group the girls outnumbered the boys. This wouldn't have been so bad if the male and female mirrored all the moves, but having learnt the girls' steps, and then switching to do the male part... well, it just totally mucked it up for me! So the two guys took turns with all the girls, almost continuously. Since they were also beginners, they couldn't really remember all the steps properly, and my more frequent dancing partner Lucas was also not a very confident lead. Still, it was almost like mathematics if you can just remember the steps!
Afterwards, we had planned to go to the Margarita bar for some live jazz. Instead Lucas' friend Oscar invited us for a drink in his apartment nearby. There was a balcony overlooking the sea, so we thought ok, a quick drink then. As a result, we had also obtained ourselves a driver to take us whale watching the next day. Our excursion was cancelled (well, the boat part anyway) as it's too windy the next day.
Lucas came the next afternoon in his father's truck to take us to Playa Dorillado, south of Puerto Madryn. It was a nice drive, but unfortunately it was also too windy for the whales. Ended up seeing more waves instead, which were also very beautiful. The tea cakes we picked up on the way were also pretty delicious, though I didn't really enjoy my first sips of Argentinien maté.
The guys were very friendly and invited us over for dinner (Oscar was clearly hitting on Monika), but I prefered to eat out. Hadn't eaten a proper hot meal for three days, and with another long bus journey ahead of me, I really wanted something decent to eat. Not quite knowing what kind of chef Oscar was, and not wanting to trouble him to make something veggie (which most people are not used to), nor using his kitchen to make something for myself, I decided to leave them to dine by themselves. It was a good move, cos I ended up eating a very nice full plate of fried veggies with rice. Then was able to pop around to Oscar's for a complementary glass of wine. Nice!