Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Torres del Paine

The Torres del Paine or translated into the "Paine Towers" this name is referring to the mountain range found in the Chilean Patagonia (or southern region of Chile). The mountains have a distinct shape that make it look like towers, as well as great shaven cliffs on the backside of the mountain range. I found it very odd how it was all tundra and then this spot of mountains.

On our second day in Chile we were in Puerto Natales and headed off to the Torres del Paine National Park, it was very windy with heavy rain, and we knew we had to walk outside for a couple of hours as well. We were not looking forward to the rain and cold but luckily in 30 minutes before we got into the park it cleared up and it turned out to be quite the sunny day for the most part. It was very weird and unpredictable weather there. The big joke with the Rotarians is taking way too many photos and getting off the bus to take a group photo with our flags and then boarding the bus again. "Vamos Chicos" "Saludos el video" "Bajamos" were the most common things we heard that week and just think of it in a high chilean accent it was pretty hilarious, and most of that video I am sure contains us exchangers doing the peace sign, and catching us all breaking the fule of no speaking english (which today when given my allowance all 4 exchange students in my area got our fines of about $5 CDN for speaking in english, at least they did it after the trip, but still).
In this photo you can see the "towers" better they're in the middle and kind of covered in clouds but all the same there they are. This lake infront of them is actually a salt lake something to do with the minerals deposited into the lake by the water from the mountains. We all touched the water and our cameras and in turn once the water dried we had lots of salt on our cameras! Of course we had to trek down a hill which many of the exchange students (including me) were willingly hopping down the hill by passing the shrubs and not feeling a thing. Of course heading back up we noticed that those seemingly harmless shrubs had lots of needles and spikes on them which we felt now since our adrenaline had ran out.
For the morning we were in the bus a lot so we were able to see almost all the park in one day. Seeing as how it takes 10 days to see the whole park if you walk. This picture just not do justice to how blue this lake was, the minerals from the glaciers made the water so blue in this specific lake. It sparkled like crazy as well. We also saw other lakes, waterfalls and amzing mountain ranges. Needless to say our cameras were out, and our mouths wide open in awe. The south of Chile actually reminded me a lot of British Columbia. There is also an incredible amount of wind that is in the South of Chile, so while we were walking outside our hair was a huge mess as well.
This is just another picture showing the mountain ranges, this time we actually got to enjoy it for 20 minutes or so before getting hustled back onto the bus. A lot of the exchangers didn't like the bus either, they wanted to do an extreme hiking exhaust-yourself-until-you-die experience here. As in hiking for 12 hours non-stop for 10 days straight, I quite enjoy the bus at times although I love walking and biking doing it for that long is no fun especially with the crazy weather here in the south. Apparently last year they had problems with the camping here with the weather and bathrooms and ticks, which is why we all stayed in hotels this year.
We headed for lunch at a resturant located in the middle of a glacier lake, and this is my
favourite part of the Torres del Paine. Where there is this massive sharp cliff in the middle of the mountain. We had the best view in the resturant as well as walking over the bridge to get to the spot on the water. We also had 4 guys swim in the glacier water for awhile as well, it is glacier
water so it is super cold and needless to say there was definite shrinkage that day! It was Philipp from Germany, Peter from Michigan, Paul from France, and Frederik from Denmark. Philipp was probably the craziest of them all and was actually swimming until his body went numb, but he is also the one who wanted to hike 10 days in the park for 12 hours a day as well. Not my cup of tea. We still had our fair share of walking I might add. Later after lunch we walked around the lake, which is a sparkling light blue and started our hike through the forest and onto a different lake, that had a median inbetween the lake itself, so much wind and it was terribly hard to walk on sand with sneakers on. All of our hair was a brid's nest filled with pounds of sand in our scalp, later that night it took me twenty mintues to brush it all out after I had washed it with conditioner hoping that it would help untangle it. Apparently it made it worse, but how was I to know. This photo it one of the glacier lakes with my exchange friend "Maddy" from Dallas, Texas. We are from two very different parts of North America and we always have debates of english words that are different, our joke about the accents. Apparently I am a retard for saying "pencil crayons" instead of coloured pencils, as well as being weird (I would say polite) for saying washroom instead of bathroom, none of the americans knew what I was talking about. As well as enlightening them all about how Canada was in WW1 and WW2 Maddy looked so dumbfounded for 10 minutes after I told her, and I even had to prove it by bringing the Dutch exchanger over who proudly insisted that Canada liberated the Dutch in WW2 he was so cute. None of them had ever learned about other countries in the war and thought it crazy that we were in both and entered the wars before America.

If you notice in the picture, the weather already changed and twenty minutes later it was super hot again while we were trekking around an island looking at glaciers. Lots of wind and surf. If you look closely you can see some glaciers in the background as well.

This would be just one of the many glaciers we saw...and after we saw a lot more while walking around in the island. It was an icredible blue colour and we had to hike up a huge hill to even get to see the glaciers. We also met our ecuadorian friend from the night before travelling around here as well. Weird coincidence, and a little odd. When we trekked back across the median the weather had changed once more to violently windy to the point that salt and sand was stinging our faces, wind was whipping through our hair, and it was starting to rain. It also got a lot harder to walk in the sand, and I pretended to pass out onto the rocks, and apparently some foreigners from Britian said "Oh, is she alright? Should we help her" but I started to get up, they obviously couldn't tell between a faint and a teenagers laziness and deciding that rocks make a good bed. This was the last photo of the day. After we visted Cave Milodon where a bear lake creature once inhabited the area and the cave was massive, it could support a tribe in there. But afterwards before heading on the bus Renee said that it looked like the lion king if you just added animals and heat. Which it kind of did. But I just really liked the sun rays through the clouds in this photo. It was such an awesome day, and we went back to our hotel and we didn't eat chicken or mashed potatoes this time. However we got flan twice in a row that day instead, at lunch and at dinner. I just drank the juice the flan was in, the texture threw me off a little which is why none of the exchangers ate the flan. Also having dinner was throwing me off as well, coming from my host family where if you wake up early enough you have breakfast and then we have lunch and nothing afterwards, and defientaly no sweets. Too many kids, so having dessert after every meal and dinner, I was eating a lot.


Jared Stryker said...

They actually FINE you for speaking English? Rotary Chile means business...

I have to agree with you on the BC similarities. VERY similar.

You should use that pic of you with your arms outstretched for like....a title screen in presentations and stuff when you get back.

As for Canadian vs American english....ours makes more there. It's definitely WASHROOM not RESTROOM. You don't rest in the washroom...

Erica said...

I wish you could upload pictures bigger or like click on them to see big versions, it would be cool to see them up close.
Looks like a pretty fabulous place you were. glaciers and everything! that's awesome.
and I can totally picture you pretending to pass out on rocks! hahahahaha. that makes me miss you so much. :)
silly americans. you should tell her we live in igloos and ride polar bears to school. :)