El Calafate / Tierra del Fuego

Took a 2.5 hr flight from BA southwest to El Calafate in Patagonia. Getting there was a--let's be PG and say commedy of errors. Gautam told me it would take 1 hr to get to the airport in rush hour. It only took 1/2 hr--good thing because it was the wrong airport. I'd gone to National because it was a domestic flight, when I should have gone to Dulles. Got an expensive taxi ($60) and somehow made the flight despite having to race around finding the right terminal and the unlabeled gate.

When I came back I took advantage of being Mexican-equivalent. I took an airport transfer bus that they told me was free if you have a connecting flight--I didn't--confident that if caught, I could blame it on the language barrier. Handy.

The town is touristy--as the guide book warned--reminded me of Aspen. It exists as a base for tours to the Perito Moreno glacier. Rushed from the airport to town to catch a bus north, but the schedule had changed and I had the afternoon in town.

 

The weather was really warm for April in Patagonia--around 60F--so I strolled around, munched pastries, petted dogs. Didn't get pics of any of the guys in AIG-sponsor soccer shirts--but there were lots of them!

Some of the cafes had signs in the window "We report receipts". Turns out about 50% of Argentina doesn't pay taxes. The bonds are to family and friends...the government is viewed as something you can blow off. Taxes are collected from business receipts rather than payroll, making it really cumbersome to enforce.

 

Across from the bus station. "Closed - Robbed by Employees"

 

Bus station. I headed north to the small backpacker town of El Chalten.

 

The tourist boom hasn't helped real estate prices. Bus terminal restroom.

 

Start of a three hour bus ride on unpaved roads. A great time for reflection.

 

This picture doesn't belong here, but I have nowhere else to put it. The plane from El Calafate back to BA flew South to Tierra del Fuego. Hard place to land--the approach was at mountain-top height forcing the captain to keep the speed up for turbulence, then he had to slam on the spoilers and brakes cuz of the very short runway (this was a 737). The whole plane applauded. Here's what it looks 450 miles north of Antarctica. The stop was Ushuaia, the southermost city in the world.

 

To El Chalten