Subject: Day 6 February 24, We are finally underway
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We started touring around 9:15 this morning and went up into the Andes. We saw some spectacular views of what the glaciers had done and the peat they left behind. Peat here is harvested and sold as fertilizer. I wondered why the ground was so spongy yesterday and that is because we were walking on peat. We had another barbeque for lunch and I am glad Patagonia lamb was not on the menu tonight. It was great at lunch and we had ten times what we needed; however, that is enough. We later went back into town and visited the Yacimiento Museum. There are actual photos of these people who were the native inhabitants of this area. They certainly didn’t look happy in the photos. They lived in this harsh environment naked and just covered with seal fat. They had a higher body temp than we do and kept a fire close by at all times. They lived in stick/grass huts so small you could not stand up in them. They ate seal and mussels. After eating, they threw the bones and shells just outside the hut in the form of a circle to help block the wind. Can you imagine the stench? So how happy would you be. On the other hand they didn’t look skinny either. Like the native Americans of Florida, food was everywhere.
Oh, they had dogs, probably introduced by the Spanish. The dogs lived with the people and slept inside the huts and probably helped add heat to the hut. These dogs were totally on their own. It said they didn’t feed them but all of those seal bones would look like food to me. Speaking of dogs, yesterday at the ski lodge, where we ate lunch, there was a dog lying around outside. As we left, we saw him running off with a huge lamb bone in his mouth. That was his dinner.
The day before, after our flight to Ushuaia, we all boarded a bus and were taken to the Tierra del Fuego National Park. It was truly beautiful. The park is set up to preserve the forest, the animals and the artifacts left behind by the Yacimiento Indians. I already told you about the Indians and their mounds they left behind. The main animals they want to protect that are native to this area are the red fox, a lama type animal, and the condor.
Many years ago people introduced the Canadian beaver into the area for food and their hides. However, it did not go well. The park now has over 120,000 beavers and they cause terrible destruction to the forest. They can cut down acre after acre of trees. Of course, today’s Tierra del Fuego beaver weights over 100 pounds because there are no predators like in Canada. They are difficult to hunt because they are nocturnal and now for the real “corker.” Their hides have become useless because the weather isn’t as cold as Canada so the warmer temps have added an oil to their hides which makes them uselss. Don’t ask me how that works.
OK, we are now in the Drake Passage. I am anxious to hear what the crew call this- they have names for how rough it is – and we are rock and roll to me. Standing up is very difficult, but I am writing this email with no difficulty except occasionally the chair slides across the floor. It is a two hand day for me, I will tell you. I won’t be going outside on deck because I don’t want to slip and fall off the boat.
We have 25 people on board with us from the Ocean Nova, the ship that ran a ground last week. The Ocean Nova now has a large rip in her hull so some of the people wanted to continue with us. We had room. As the woman from Ireland, that we sat with last night said, they had planned for this trip for over a year now so were not going to go back if there was another choice.
OK just took a shower and if you think that wasn’t sporting. You had to lean against the shower wall and then hang on to the bar, and you have to dress sitting down. Now we are going to try to make to the observation deck to watch for albatrosses.
More to follow,
Tom & Holly