El Calafate, and El Chaltén, Argentina

Things that are difficult to believe either don’t have enough evidence, or conflict with the prior beliefs that we have already developped. When we hear a song on the radio for example, we may have an idea of which band is playing the song. However, we often hold out until after the song is finished when the band name is announced, in order to actually posit a belief. Contrarily, I can say that a lot of the experiences I’ve had in Latin America up until now have given me enough evidence, but they are still difficult to belief because they challenge my prior experience to a profound level. These are the experiences like the dancing in Cali, the mountains in Pance, and the water in San Andrés. The experiences where even though its right in front of my face, I still say “I can’t believe it”. More recently, I would say the scene in “El Calafate and “El Chaltén”, Argentina merits the word “fantastic”. This word is used a lot, but how often do you really witness something that is so different from your reality that you would say it is from fantasy?

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On the way to Calafate, the long stretches of plains alter between brown and white depending on the recent snow falls. The driver also honks a few times in order to scatter guanacos off the long and isolated road of highway 40. As you approach the village, the water turns to a turquoise blue that seems to glow. This distinct colour is produced from a mineral called “rock flour” generated by glaciers rubbing up against mountainsides.

When you arrive at Calafate you recognize that it is a little tourist hub. There are a lot of hostels, cafés, winter cloth renting shops, and agencies ready to take you on day trips. Apparently, it is rare that the temperature rises above 20 degrees throughout the whole year in Calafate, but the lack of humidity creates a dry cold which isn’t as bad. For $20/night I stayed in a hostel called “América del Sur” with a pretty view of “Lac Argentine”, a heated floor, a spacious kitchen, rock alternative on the radio, and plenty of tables to socialise with other tourists. The big thing to do in Calafate is to explore the glaciers, the biggest of which is “Perito Moreno”, which has a surface area bigger than “Buenos Aires”. From the water level, the front looks like a an army of soldiers standing at the ready to protect the depths of a castle. From above, we can peak in on the depths. Contrary to popular belief, glaciers aren’t made of frozen water, but rather from snow falling down from mountains and then being frozen in place by the wind that is funneled in between the mountains. This creates the appearance that the glacier is a forest of snow, another type of world. “Fantastic”.

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For the weekend I went to Chaltén. If I could have stayed for longer I would have, but the wifi is really weak. For the majority of the trekking in “The National Park of the Glaciers”, you are able to walk on flat plaines in between mountains and if you go in the fall, you will be surrounded by colours that I only thought existed in abstract art. A fluorescent fantasy land, walking here felt unreal. This isn’t to mention the glaciers that you find throughout the park. The weather was not the best when on Saturday and so I couldn’t see much, but I woke up early Sunday morning and hiked to “The Lagoon of the Tower” in order to watch the sunrise as it washed down the tower. I sat there without anything else making a noise except the air from my own lungs.

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“La Laguna de la torre”

These “fantasy” lands changed my life to a profound degree. I understand how much more beautiful the world is, and I am more proud that I have been a vegetarian for the last seven years. Now, I’m ready to take on veganism. Our teeth are sharp, we don’t have claws, and our digestive systems aren’t developped to digest meat. Furthermore, animal agriculture causes more pollution than all transportation modes combined. In a world where drought are becoming more frequent and glaciers are melting I believe that we should become more responsible in how we live in this world that we share.

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


 

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