Cripes, it’s been some hectic days since the last update. It feels like a lot has happened. I spent one more day with Federico, Virginia and the family, enjoying their amazing food and never-ending thirst for beer. The last of these surely down to the fact that there isn’t all that much to do in Choel. I then hitch-hiked to Puerto Madryn, although it should be said that this was less of a hitch-hike and more Virginia seeing a truck on the road, knowing that I was interested in hitch-hiking, then going and begging the guy to give me a lift (as it was he was a friend of Virginia’s dad so all ended swimmingly). The only downside was that trucks take absolutely forever to reach their destination, and sometimes contain a Chilean with no teeth insistent on asking you questions (not once did I not ask for a repetition!) and that they stop on the outskirts of town, not nice and tidily in the center. So then I had to hitchhike for real, for the 13km to Puerto Madryn were by far too much by foot. With this success I reached the town center, gave Azul (couchsurfer) a call and got my head down for the night.
Sitting in an over-heating truck for 8 hours had obviously taken its toll as I didn’t wake far past 11am. I decided my best bet (taking into accounts costs) was to head to the sea colony. On my way to rent a bike the wind picked up and the rain started. The owner of the bike looked at me a bit sceptically and forsook a hard day but I was feeling resilient after my sleep. 16km later, and after being almost blown off the bike twice I reached, Punta Loma, glorious home of a beautiful sea lion colony.
I was quite aware that on the way to the colony the wind had been behind me, and that I was in more danger of being blown off the road rather than stopped in my tracks, and that quite possibly the way back could be treacherous. This proved to be exactly the way it happened, as the wind had also managed to pick itself up from a deathly gush to a completely galling gail from hell. Some of the way I had to walk head faced down trying to drag my bike behind me as the sand and rocks smashed into my scalp. Halfway back, an old man in a truck took pity on me and without even speaking a word threw my bike in the back of his truck. I followed the bike and after a wordless 15 minute drive returned to the relative comfort of Azul’s flat.
Battered and bruised (the bike’s seat I believe was made from concrete) I went out with Azul in town for a beer before we headed home and to sleep. In the morning my plan was to hitch to Trelew. This meant the 13km to the main route once more before then getting another truck to the city. As I left the house the heaven’s opened, and saddle-sore I limped to the bus station to find out how much it was to Trelew. 18 pesos and 1 hour was an absolute steal and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of this before so I got in.
There is very little to do in Trelew, it’s more a hub for excursions, so I rested my sore behind for the day and prepared for another. The idea was to go to Punta Tomba, a colony of penguins about 100km away. Thankfully I managed to meet some people interested in renting a car, and off we went.
Quite easily one of the most amazing places I have ever been, I can’t believe they let you just walk around the penguins home, the little fellas just plodding along, ducking and diving, but mainly flopping and wobbling, quite content to have tonnes of people waking them up, staring at them, taking pictures. To be able to get so close is remarkable, I think only possible because they are such a passive creature. It’s no wonder some of the great explorers captured thousands of these little fellas, salted them up, and stuck them in the cargo. I felt like picking one up and putting it in my pocket.
After that we went to Rawson, where a drunk Argentinean, forever wiping oil from his hands and onto a cloth and then back onto his hands again, told us there were Elephant Seals about. All a figment of his imagination. The beach though, Playa Union, is definately worth a look. Beautifully tranquil and capable of 40 degrees in the height of summer.
And now I find myself in the hostel in Trelew for the last time. Rather than spend another night here I decided to book a bus, for pretty much the same price, and head south. I’m not really sure about the next part of the plan, but I really hope it involves more penguins!