Sunday, November 9, 2008
Penguins and Whales
WOW, WOW, WOW. I have had a great last few days. We took a 24 hour bus ride from El Calafate up to Puerto Madryn, on the coast last Wednesday and got here on Thursday afternoon. This is a great place in Argentina for seeing wildlife, and there is a nature reserve called Peninsula Valdez. Rahima and I went running along the beach when we got here and we saw whales from the shore! They seemed to be so close. Apparently this is mating season for the right whales, so they are all over. It was pretty neat. Since we were still traveling with our newfound Canadian friend Ryan, we all decided that it was actually cheaper for us to rent a car for a few days and get around ourselves rather than paying for the all inclusive tours. Road trips are fun too.
So on Friday we went to Punta Tombo, which is the largest Magellanic Penguin rookery in the world. It was really, really, REALLY funny. They burrow in to the ground, so it literally looked like a landscape of whack-a-mole...well, whack-a-penguin I guess! Their little heads were just peeking out of these holes in the ground. You can walk around the rookery just peering in on sleeping penguins guarding their eggs (which will start to hatch next week or so...darn). Every five or six steps there are more penguins. It was really wild. They were just soooooo cute too. I loved it. I didn´t even mind the gale force winds that were around us.
Then, yesterday, we took the car to the nature reserve and went whale watching. Now, I have been whale watching before, and I know that you always see those really cool pictures in the whale watching shops where the whales are right next to the boats...but that once you pay to go whale watching you never, EVER see them that close up. Right? WRONG! We saw about 6 right whales, and they were literally just hanging around the boat, floating within feet of us. It was so incredible. The sound they make when they breathe is really something. I pretty much just wanted to push everyone else off the boat to get more pictures...but Rahima held me back. :)
Then we drove up to the north side of the peninsula where (supposedly) it is one of the only two places in the world where orcas will beach themselves trying to attack elephant seals and sealions. If you know me, you know I have always, ALWAYS wanted to see an orca, and have tried on several occaions to no avail. Well, this time, it was the same thing. Seals, but no orcas. :( I was a little bummed, but it was still pretty cool to drive out there and try. When I finally see an orca, it will definitely be worth it.
So all in all, it has been a great couple of days. Today we are going to get on another 18 hour journey via bus to go to Buenos Aires and be there for a few days...an hopefully escape for a quick mintue to go relax on a beach somewhere. Ryan left to go to Mendoza today, and he was seriously one of the funniest people we have ever met(he is totally the Canadian version of Joe). I think we will finally get a little break from laughing so much.
Argentina is great, but it has really been costing us a lot more than we thought to get around such a big country. I feel like you could easily spend 10 months in Argentina alone and barely get to know it. We have covered a lot of ground though and are having a great time, but we definitely miss the cheap bus rides in Peru. I can´t believe that in just a few short weeks we will have to leave South America. Time really does fly when you are having fun.