Sunday, 27 January 2013

Anniversary trip to Patagonia.

It's been a year since my wife and I moved to the Falklands.  There's a photo at the end of this blog, that shows the different conditions between now and last January.  We arrived at the end of a prolonged drought and heatwave.  This "summer" has seen rain almost every day in December and January, so we decided to escape to Chile for a week.   One of the benefits of being only 90 minutes away from Patagonia!

I realise the blog has been a bit quiet for a while, so I'm posting some photos of the Torres del Paine National Park, while I sort out some of the 1000+ photos we took last week....
Las Torres ("The Towers", or "towels" as in some brochures)
Slightly bigger than the English Lake District, the Park has as its centrepiece a stunning granite massif.  I'll go into more detail in later blogs, but it is a unique and fascinating geographical and geological region.
A majestic guanaco
 There's lots of wildlife in the park, with about 5,000 guanacos the most visible example.  But we also saw condors, foxes, hares ,etc.

The Cuernos (Horns). A different angle from the photo above.
There's also huge glaciers entering deep lakes, which feed fast-flowing milky-grey rivers.  The park is on the edge of the Southern Patagonian Icefield, which is the biggest in the southern hemisphere outside Antarctica.
Lago Grey, or Grey Lake in English.
Retreating glacier exposes complex geology
Meanwhile, back in sunny Stanley....(25C last Sunday - 3rd warmest day on record!)
January, 2012
These photos of my back garden show the difference between the two recent summers.  Last year was a drought, whereas rain has been the feature this year.  Still, the gardens needed it!
January, 2013.  Ready for the horses...
We returned from Chile yesterday with a planeload of tourists who were joining their expedition ship, Polar Pioneer, in Stanley harbour, and then sailing to Antarctica.  Many were interested in what life was like in Stanley.  I explained there were sometimes things we missed, but there were many compensations.

And, as we suspected, all their heavy luggage meant there was little room on the plane for the islands' fresh fruit and veg!   Going shopping later, I found that 6 eggs had jumped from £1.20 to £3 in a week!  That's inflation for you.

We also attended a Public Consultation last night, held  to look into the impact of the oil industry on the islands:  the economy, people and way of life.   It was interesting to hear the different points of view.  For example, some people feel the immigration and work permit rules need to be tightened to stop the Falklands being swamped by migrant workers, while others feel the rules could strangle the economic growth which the new industry could bring.

What surprised me most was that only about 20 people turned up for the consultation: about 1% of Stanley's population.....

More, much more, on Torres del Paine, and the Falklands, in forthcoming blogs.  There might even be the odd photo of a penguin.  Oh, and my efforts to forego alcohol in January have fallen by the wayside, but for (I think) very good reasons.  Excuses to follow.


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