Patagonia, Chile… A mystical Place
At the tip of South America lies Patagonia, offering its visitors the most stunning scenery on the planet. As an amateur photographer who travels extensively searching for the elusive perfect spot for the perfect shot, I felt like I stumbled into heaven. The sheer vastness of unrelenting beauty of the snowcapped Andes contrasted against clear blue skies and cobalt blue glaciers in pristine waters overwhelm the senses. I felt the heaviness of fatigue from the 3-flights from Naples, and subsequent 4-hour car ride lift, and was replaced by reflection and peace.
My guide, a former gaucho, an exceptional and interesting scout, was eager to take me to a working estancia (estate) which houses his fellow horsemen/cowhands, and learn about the hard lives they lead. Gauchos spend 8 – 10 hours a day in the saddle, herding sheep, which necessitates drinking Yerba Mate, a drink to warm up and/or stay awake as it combines both alcohol and high octane caffeine. Their “costume” as depicted in movies is still worn by modern gauchos i.e., beret, woolen poncho, long, accordion-pleated trousers, tucked into high-top riding boots, and, a large knife in the back of their fajas (waist sash). Through this mammoth terrain, the gaucho must keep the herd moving safely, fed and protected from its main predator, the forever hungry, always prowling Puma. Patagonian Pumas were almost eliminated by ranchers hunting them, but are now protected.
Patagonia is a collage of interesting experiences and sights, and noticeably devoid of the sounds of the city. The quiet is as breathtaking as the beauty surrounding it. Nature at its best is on display everywhere, and added to the natural delights are Andean Condors gracefully flapping 10’ wings on their way up to an amazing 15,000 feet, penguins, whales for watching, unspoiled wilderness of mountains, fjords, glaciers, forests, fish, historical sites and the unexpected. So many more pictures to take, so little time. Yes, I will be back!