I´m in Puerto Madryn right now. Yesterday we went on an excursion to Peninsula Valdes – saw right whales, sea lions, elephant seals, and penguins! Decided to skip the excursions to Punta Tombo to the south where there is the largest continental penguin colony… A penguin is a penguin and I really don`t think anyone can handle me sharing a million more pictures of penguins. haha. The elephant seals were a bit distant yesterday too and lethargic so that wasn´t as fun either, but apparently they are the only continental colony of them here too. AND another fun fact of Peninsula Valdes and all their amazing one of a kind animals… the orcas in the area are the ONLY ones in the world that have developed this insane hunting technique of STRANDING themselves, mas o menos, on the beach to reach the sea lions for their food! They literally temporarily beach themselves to get them. Insane! Unfortunately we didnt observe this happening… but interesting nonetheless. The mothers also teach their young how to do this… pushing them onto the shores. I would love to be down here for a longer amount of time and have some kind of marine background to study this… But that won´t happen haha. I was going to try to go scubadiving with sea lions here but it was a little pricey. Why are all the fun hobbies expensive? haha. Perhaps some other day…
I´ve finally caught on to the craziness that is tourism down here in South America. It is such a moneymaker which is good I suppose for employment and industry in general, but wow – they really take it out of you! i definitely think the profit margin is HUGE for these tours considering the number of people they take on each and what the expenses probably really are. Plus everything is adventure tours, excursions, once in a lifetime experiences… I figured you out advertising and marketing!!! I am not falling for ALL of it hahaha. Unless its something really amazing, I will stick to more learning about the areas and doing some cheap budget tourism until I get to the cheaper countries I think. For example.. I COULD try to do more surfing in Chile or Argentina… but it´s cheaper in Peru and possibly better! And I COULD climb a volcano in Chile… but I could also do that in Peru I think… or maybe when I get to Central America someday! Someone was telling me about this thing called volcano surfing where you literally are going down the side of the volcano… I like the idea of being near lava when I´m on a volcano anyways and the volcano climbs in Chile are in the snow.
Tonight I am heading to Bariloche for a few days, then going back into my homebase country Chile for Christmas and New Years until I work at the summer camps in January. It was a really tough decision choosing whether to try to make it up to Mejillones to visit for New Years because who wouldn´t want to spend the holiday with friends, and it is the closest thing to home I have here… but after some thinking I decided to go with meeting new people and going to Viña del Mar, supposedly the best place for NYE in the country. And it works, because yesterday I found out my friend may be going to Mendoza, Argentina in mid-January, which would be around the time when I will be going after the summer camps!! Perfecto. Things tend to work out.
Other updates besides where I am… I love traveling! I have been meeting so many people… locals and other travelers. It´s really interesting… I´ve been more of less on my own for the last week but never really alone. I keep meeting people wherever I am from the buses or the hostels and spending time with them. Almost so much that I feel like I WOULD like to be on my own in a city at some point so I can just take it in on my own! But then again, I like to be social of course. Couple things I´ve learned… everyone goes to the same places. I have seen at least 3 different people or groups of people in multiple places. Not even going to the same next place, but with gaps inbetween we will run into each other again.
- A group of Israelis we were around in Torres del Paine were on a bus with me almost 2 weeks later on Ruta 40 from El Calafate.
- French guy we met in Punta Arenas (also about 2 weeks ago) in the hostel came here to Puerto Madryn and stayed at the same hostel as me and ended up on the same tour yesterday!
- Texan from the Ruta 40 bus, ran into him twice in El Bolsón, once on a trail and once in town. I guess that more so makes it a small town than coincidentally running into travelers haha.
Other random thoughts – Some people really rush through traveling. I love reading other travel blogs and whatnot, and one of the best tips I agree with is to travel slow. Its tough when you want to conserve your money, and I really am feeling that right now being in the most expensive countries first (Chile, Argentina and then Brazil)… but I think it will be worth it. And hopefully I´m going to end up being right about this and not broke from being in the expensive countries first… I think and hope that once I´m in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador I will be able to make up for my time here. haha.
Granted there are things I can decide to not waste my money on, places to skip over if they aren´t worth the Lonely Planet hype, but I couldn´t imagine going into a country for just one or two cities, or just a few days. What´s the point if you don´t get to KNOW a place? There are so many people that have been traveling for a few months and have already gone to most of the countries in South America and some parts of Central America or they are doing a round-the-world trip and have also gone to Asia or Australia. But SO FAST! Just to add the countries to a list? I mean, it´s beneficial to me because I can pick their brains about where to go, where to stay, what to do… but it sounds more like a travelling collection of places they´ve been than traveling for the sake of traveling! I think that´s why I have now realized how much better it is that in spanish you say conocer to KNOW a place… rather than visitar to have visited. They are VERY different. Por seguro… Prefiero conocer.