18: A day in El Calafate

Day 36 (30th Dec.)

We decided to make the most of a sunny yet windy day and walked to the Lake (Lago Argentino) to the west of the town, which we could see from our room.  On the way, we stopped off at a cemetery where vast concrete structures held multiple coffins in a number of separate compartments – clearly a very practical use of space.  The front part of each compartment could be accessed by a hinged window behind which people (presumably relatives) had placed flowers, candles and most bizarrely bottles of soft drink.  They were beautifully tended and it seemed a very special place for people to visit.

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This cemetery reminded us of the multiple roadside shrines we have seen along the way in both Chile and Argentina, and even today we saw a man stop his car beside a small shrine and put a packet of cigarettes inside the little structure!  It was a strange thing to see and we both wondered the significance of this action.

Lunch comprised Empanadas in a nice music bar by the lake, complete with shelves full of  Scotch Whiskey.

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We then visited a museum of Patagonian history, which was very interesting in showing how the area evolved and how its early settlers lived.  The first hunter gatherers  arrived here more than 9000 years ago and they fed on Guanacos, which we have seen roaming on the plains.  Interestingly, there are rock faces within a cave near here (Cuevas de los Manos) where there are traces of hand prints, as well as figures that represent men and animals, which must be fascinating to see.

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Tomorrow we leave for the town of El Chalten, a small town set close to Mount Fitz Roy, where the main activity is hiking.

 

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