Santiago de Chili


On monday at about 10:30 H. I checked in at the Princesa Insolente Hostel in the centre of Santiago. The 12 hour rip in the “sleep bus” from Puerto Varas had been confortable and I had slept from about midnight until 7 in de morning.

But Iwas not really up to much, so I unpacked and got organized. I than started to look at my pictures and get ideas of what I wanted to do in this city.

At the desk of the Hostel I was provided wit a map that also contained a folder of three free walking tours through parts of the city. I decided to do one the next day.

In the evening I had one of those extraordinary meeting that make traveling so special. Over dinar (just some salad with Tuna from a can) I met a couple of real travelers. They met 2 years ago in Nice. They’ve been a couple since.

DSC2100Seungwoon Park (Korean) and Sachiè Ohara (Japanese),  he has a Christian- and she a Shinto background. They speak a mixture of Japanese, Korean and English with one another and plan to get married next year in Korea. They have been traveling together a lot and have been in Europe and now in South America. They went to visit Tsjernobyl and Auschwitz. Sachiè studied Arabic and lived for a while in Tunisia, where she also picked op some French.

I was intrigued by the stories, but she had one more surprise. She comes from Kyoto and a  girlfriend of her met an orthodox Jew (with side-curls), who lives also in Kyoto. She learned Hebrew, converted to Judaism and they got married according to the Jewish law. What a story, who would have thought that there is an orthodox Jewish community in Kyoto and that a Japanese girl would convert to Judaism. Love works wonders.

On Tuesday 05/02 I went on the first walking tour. The organization ‘Spicy Chili’ has a program of 3 Guided Tours based on tips.

DSC2101  Version 2I started with ‘The Patrimonial Route’. A walking tour of about  hours, through the old 19 century Santiago. 

DSC2103The first part shows a predominately French influence. That was brought about by the young widow of the biggest wine producer. She inherited the enormous area and decided to, partially, use the ground to develop a new quarter of the city in French style. The area is – as far as the fronts of the buildings is concerned – a protected heritage site. 

DSC2107In this area are a lot University faculties and this square, – after the end of the Pinochet regime – came to be known as Journalists Square, because they came here to celebrate the renewed freedom for the Press.

DSC2114Here we area looking at one of the houses of the small group of old and rich Chilean families.

DSC2115Near by other mansions of this type is now rented out per room. In each room a whole family has to live. The dangers are enormous, because of faulty electric wiring and fire hazards.

DSC2123Chili is one of those places on earth that suffering regular earthquakes. This church has suffered several earthquakes over the years, Some parts are very old and build with mud bricks and others are newer additions. Here you see a part of an old dome, with to the left of it an about 50 year old addition at the front. The church is closed and is beyond repair. God is obviously not considered to be homeless by the authorities of today.

DSC2125On the front side you see the ship of Christopher Columbus, that you’ll find on many places as a symbol of Christianity.

DSC2128This a tree of more than 2000 year old. It is called  an Aravecaria  and grows in different varieties, in  Chili, Brazil and Argentina. The wood is hard as stone and the tree grows very slowly. Our guide told us that his mother planted one when he was born, and he out grew the tree. Given time they become giants thug.


On the other side of the square is a studio/club where young musicians can practice and record. It is owned by the Comunist Party and bears the name Victor Jara, who was a very popular singer/songwriter and killed in the first days of the Pinochet coup. He was tortured and found dead in the  Chili Stadium in Santiago, with 3o bullets in his body. His portrait is the one in the center of the three, Right of the portret A women personifying the Aymara (the Indians living in the north of Chili) and on the left a picture portraying the Mapucho from the south. Among the Mapucho is a small group that is engaged in terror attacks against the landowners of what they feel is their land. Houses of these land owners are burned and a short while ago a land owner and his wife were killed in an  arson attack. Most of the Mapucho though strife along peaceful ways to improve their situation. 

DSC2132Nearby  is the church belonging to a nunnery and school for girls

DSC2136This is an example of one of the problems the Chilean authorities are faced with. Houses built with mud bricks. They are the biggest cause to death in case of the regular earthquakes. At present there is a policy of buying these houses and replacing them with solid houses. As specially in the north of Chili that is a massive endeavor that will take years to be accomplished. 

DSC2138This young woman completely dressed in white. She could be a nurse, a cook or a cleaner. She is a cook, just cleaning the patch of pathway outside her kitchen.

DSC2141This is the interior of the oldest Barbershop in Santiago.

DSC2142It is still in use as such too and part of a kind of Barber tools museum 

DSC2145and also doubles as a Café and Restaurant.

DSC2151A few streets away you can see an example of the traditional expression of the Communist Party of Chili. They have always been very artistic in their communication with the public.

DSC2154In this part of town you find streets where people live that maintain a very strong social network. That is a tradition the derives from the 20’s and 30’s, when the workers who lived here had no alternative than take care of one another, in order to survive.

DSC2160That tradition has taken new forms in which the people who live in a street form a kind of community club, which you have to join if you want to move into the street. These communities decide for intsense that there are no cars allowed in the street, but that instead there is a park that they maintain themselves.

DSC2161Here an other example of political graffiti. On top in red: “Long live the fight of the Mapucho” and on the bottom 2 pictures one oft hem depicting President Obama.


The second Walking tour I took was the one that took us along the different markets.They are all on area of the city next to one another.

DSC2167The vegetables ……… 


DSC2168the spices……..

DSC2176the fish………

DSC2180and more spices and nuts

DSC2190The market are located in this part of the city because it was once on the border of the city and farmers could bring their products easily to it. This mode of transport is getting rare, though.

DSC2193There are also a lot of different restaurants in the Market Halls. Weather this one serve kosher food I could not find out.

DSC2197There is also a flower market,

DSC2202with  a lot of arangements made for funerals.

DSC2215The Carabinieri of today no longer a threat to the people and have peaceful exercises in their midst.

DSC2216In the area i also one of the most popular places for people of all layers to have a drink, a look at one another and to be seen.

DSC2217Musicians come an play, if you ask also at your table, for a nice tip 



In the Hostel was also Alon, an Israeli. He is 32, had quit his job as an engineer to travel South America. He found out that doing so on tour busses, was not his thing. He met people who did it on bikes and so he bought one too. It is a light  all-road bike, made in China. He had to figure out how to get all his gear tied on to that bike and found a welder to make him support racks. The tank of the bike can hold only 10 lite and so he bought had a plastic container for an other 10 liter. He thought he’d get an action radius of 400 km this way. That is very optimistic I told him, because although the bike in light he puts a lot of weight on it and he has to go up quit steep slopes.

He is a very nice guy and we talked about Israel, the last elections and the hope for change. He thinks Yair Lapid’ success will bring about change.         I am not yet that optimistic, but we agreed that if things do not change fast, it will bring disaster.                                                                                                  

This journey has brought me already 2 new friends, that help me to see that the “Other Israel” does exist. Not bad, I think.


On Tuesday 07/02 we said goodbye and he  hit road of In the direction of Mendoza in Argentina. That is 800 km and the Andes to cross. He thought he could do it in one day. I told him that he better take at least 2 for it. Riding a bike of this type is tiering and  even if you could do an average of 80 km an hour, it would take 10 hours strait riding.

DSC2262We promised to stay in toch and I already mailed him some pictures. I really wish him a fantastic journey. One that I wished I could have done, once.

The third Walking tour would have taken me along a whole series of museums, so I decide to do it alone and limit it to one, the MUSEO MEMORIA Y LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS


This one of the best choices I made in my life. The museum was build by human Right organization and opened in 2010 and opened by the president of Chili, Michelle Bacheleti. It depicts the atrocities committed by the military dictatorship of Pinochet from 1973 till 1990. I did not do all three floors. After two I had enough. 

I wondered how the nation had healed itself. Families, streets and whole communities must have been torn apart. A group of perpetrators, a group of victims and a large group, of what exactly? I have seen more museums and monuments depicting horrors, but these were always about atrocities been brought upon a people by ‘others’. There is of course Cambodia and the Kemehr Rouge of Pol Pot, but hey are still working on it, with a  trial.

Pinochet was arrested in London and sent back for a trial, but was found unfit to stand trial big army doctors.                                                                      

At the desk of the museum I found a young lady that spoke very good English. I asked her about it and she said it is very difficult for people over 35. Some were victims or were involved in the opposition, but most did nothing and stood by or even thought it couldn’t be helped. She explained that because the transition was  slow and the situation really improved and there were so many that were involved or did nothing. it went as it did.                  

I compared it to the over 50 % of the French that, after the war, declairedd they had taken part in the resistance

The fact that this museum/monument shows to everybody why happened and warns for events like this, also in other countries is of colossal proportions. It were Chileans that did it to Chileans.


When I left the Museum, I was again confronted with the name Victor Jara. In the museum shop I bought a CD with some of his songs, that were so threatening to Pinochet’s Junta.

I hope somebody will help me with the lyrics.

Puerto Varas and its surrounding

DSC1865Puerto Varas lays on the shore of the Llanquihue lake, the third largest lake of South-America and from its shore you faced the Osorno vulcano  that dominates the area.

DSC1883Around the lake are some beautiful National Parks, with wild water streams

DSC1886Here am I surrounded with Chilean fellow participants on the tour I took in a little bus. Conversation was not possible, the the communication was wonderful. We really had a lot of fun.

DSC1893We also went on a boat tour on a smaller lake, but in sight of the same Osorno volcano.

DSC1913There was a nice wind great and the windsurfers did very well against the background of the Andes.

DSC1921The water has cut its way through the black coagulated lava.

DSC1922It can look like a vail, but in the end it kills the trees.

DSC1964Waterfall in the park with in the background the Osorno.

DSC1967Here I took, with some of my fellow tourists from the little bus, a trip with a speedboat on the wild water to get close to the waterfalls.

DSC1973It was beautiful and exiting……


….. and got me in the position for this shot of the Osorno.

DSC1988I could have just taken a look from the bridge, of course.

DSC1993An other national Park on the same lake.

DSC1997Where we were welcomed by a Zorro, a grey foxf.

DSC1999And still the same volcano omnipresent.

DSC2006Looking for a nice picture or something in the lava sand.


The area around Puerto Montt an Puerto Varas is populated wit h a lot of German immigrants that live her already for many generation, but at home still speak the German of Goethe. It shows in the architecture, in the names of restaurants and in the many sweet cakes that are sold every where.

I heard this for the first time from a young steward on the ferry. He spoke excelent English with an almost German accent. He told me that the first president  of Chili after it got its independence from Spain, solicited immigrants from central Europe to help create a new real Chilean culture. A lot of Germans came and worked in Agriculture an Industry. He told me that also at his home they spoke German and that made it easier for him to learn English.

He told me that before going to the university he went for a year to live Germany. He said it was such a shock! Germany was not what I had been taught at school or at home. The Germany of Goethe did not show in the Germany of today


Beside the German music that came out of speakers in the center of Puerto Varas, there was this Indian Pan-flute player. He too had a microphone plus an amplifier and CD player with the music that he completed with his flutes. He had 3 different flutes and is was a joy to listen to. He spoke good English and I bought all the three CD’s he had with him. 3 CDs for 10.000 pesos, about € 15. I hope I can mail them home without paying a fortune on import duties.



To- & in- Puerto Montt

I had decided already in Punta Arenas to travel to the north on a ferry that goes once a week from Puerto Natales to Puerto mont. It is a cargo ferry, that also has passenger facilities with entertainment in the form of lectures and documentaries. It sails through the fjords and in between islands along the Chilean coast. It is a beautiful journey and I figured out that I could also work on my pictures and my Blog.

Schermafbeelding 2013 02 03 om 14 34 54


You board the NAVIMAG ferry in the evening, after you had dinner in the town. Late afternoon I had to check in and hand over the bulk of my luggage. The  crew would bring it to my cabin, which I  was supposed to share with 3 other passengers. I had a nice dinner and got onboard at about 22:00 H. It worked out that I had only one fellow cabin member, but he was special. He wore at least 3 layers of clothe, which he did not take of when he went to sleep. There was no ventilation in the cabin, so I insisted that the door to the corridor stayed open. In the corridors were also bunks and I regretted  the choice I made for the cabin. When I woke up the next morning my cabin mate had taken the covers of the two unused bunks and used them for himself. He had also put one mattress along side his bed, so he was sleeping with all his clothes and three blankets in a  kind of cocoon. But he had not closed the door and it was quit fresh. The corridor got plenty of fresh air every time a door to the decks was opened. I decided not to make a fuss, as long as the door would stay open. After all we would be on the ship only 4 nights.

DSC1718You sail through the Andes as it were. With snowcapped mountains and also glaziers. It was foggy, but they are always impressive.

DSC1733The waterways are really narrow and curvy……

DSC1754….and quit busy too.

DSC1764Some don’t make it, although this one was put aground to get money rom the insurance, the roomer goes. Birds have taken over the wreckage.


If the crew spots a whale they report it through the Public Address System and the passenger stream onto the decks. They did not get that close to the ship though. Whales prefer the Europa under sail, I gues.


The still active Caldera Vulcan, Chaitén. In the Blog on Deception Island I explained what a caldera is. The difference with the on of Deception Island and the  Chaitén caldera is that this one in May 2008 came back to life. Just before the eruption the town of  Chaitén had been evacuated because of the new activity that was noted. It was a heavy eruption. Virtually all vegetation on the slopes and the whole town, 10 km north of the vulcan were destroyed. On the left you can see the steam coming from the lakes surrounding the inner volcanic dome.


Still, stunning sunsets.

DSC1818Puerto Mont is next to a ferry- and Cruse-ships- port also  the place to take tour boats. 

DSC1829It is also a traditional fishing harbor. If you keep saying ‘manjana’ too long, you get this photogenic image

DSC1834Near the fish market they also sell music, life and on CD.

DSC1837There is still small scale fishing going on

DSC1847The caught fish are sold in the local market and some of the catches, are remarkable and draw attention, 

DSC1842A lot of Salmon, King Crab and different kinds of shell fish. 

DSC1851Together with the colorful vegetable you can buy here every thing you need for a delicious meal.

DSC1853The ferry is going back to Puerto Natales and I’ll be going to Puerto Varas on the big lake 50 km to the north.

The best thing since the sailing

After not having ridden a horse for at least 20 years, I decided to change coarse and I asked the lady in the travel agency to arrange a 2 hours ride at a stable outside Puertort Natales. I figured that my but would ask for that limitation. The stable that offered 2 hour trips was engaged for a tour of a week but the lady could book me at an other stable a little further ou,t for a journey of 3 hours. Having decided on the horseback riding, I accepted the offer.

They would pick me up at 10 in the morning of sunday 20 January, my last day in Puerto Natales. While I was waiting for the car, an English lady of about my ages asked if she could join me. She had previously been on a horse for a day, in Cuba. I told here that I thought  it was a bit ‘thin’. But that if the horse was calm and we would just trot  and not go into canter let alone a gallop, she might stay in the saddle.

When a jong lady in black appeared in a  4×4  pickup truck, she told she told Sandy (the English lady) sandals where not the right footwear.         Sandy obeyed and put on her hiking boots.

Our hostess drove about  45 minutes in the direction of the Torres del Paine Park and after passing the junction to the Mylodon Cave, she turned left into a valley.

We stopped near a lake she said was called Laguna Sofia. On the ‘Estancia Laguna Sofia’, we passed a gate with the Picture of a horse and the name Pingo Salvaje on it. It was her uncle’s, she said and she worked at the stable during the summer holidays. 

IMG 1000The coral of Pingo Salvaje stables.

The uncle got  two horses out and saddled them. As you can see on the picture below, there are pieces of a tree trunk, that makes getting into the saddle a lot easier. So after 20 years I had obviously come to the right place. Sandy also got safely on her horse.

It worked out, that lady in black – who had picked us up from the Singing Lamb – had an identical twin sister, that also worked for the summer at her uncle’s stable.

IMG 1002

IMG 1008Both of the girls got on their own horses (which I noticed had more fire in them than ours). There was also a little boy ( I guess about 9 years old) that somehow also got on a horse. He rode it as if he done nothing else since he got out of the cradle. The girl in the black trousers told us he was from Argentina and he was the sun of a friend of her uncle. I now saw with my own eyes how Los Gauchos are razed.

IMG 1012Off we went, into the hills that are at the foot of the Andes. The first track was well trodden.

IMG 1020


IMG 1022The Amazon twins of Pingo Salvaje are  looking at us, standing at the rim of the hill overlooking Laguna Sofia.

IMG 1035

IMG 1041The saddle belts are adjusted at this first short pause.

IMG 1060On goes the journey.

IMG 1065Inspecting her cavalry.

IMG 1074And on we go. By th time we are about 1,5 hours in the saddle and I am pleasantly surprised by my own comfort.

IMG 1076Than the almost complete view on the lake. It was also the point from which we started toe descend back to the stable.

IMG 1084

Not before taking this picture, for which I handed over my Canon G1X to the lady in black. She not only proved to be an accomplished amazon, but also nows how to take flattering picture. I am pleased with my ‘sit’, after so many years.

IMG 1099The area is absolutely gorgeous to ride trough.

IMG 1104

IMG 1120Closer to home to  the horses smelt  the stables  and when the little Gaucho went into light canter our horses wanted to follow. I held my horse nicely in trot, but Sandy cried: “What do I do?” The lady in black rode up next to her and took her reigns. Sandy later said the horse went into gallop, but it was really just a light canter. For the black amazon it was obviously just the thing to do, in the situation at hand.

IMG 1132

IMG 1135

We all got back safely after a three hour ride. I felt so good and happy that I had done it. 

IMG 1137The little Gaucho proved to be a real horse person, looking at the way he took care of his horse, after dismounting it.

I later red in the folder I was given that, on a full day ride, they take you also to a Condor area where you are at the same altitude as the flying birds . Had I known that, I might have signed up for that instead. After  6 hours in the saddle though, I might not have felt as good as I did after 3.

On the other hand, I had orignaly planned only 2 hours and to be able to look flying Condors in the eyes, is quit something and worth a bit of pain. Maybe I’ll get an other chance with condors. I did not expect this to go so well either.

This kind of things make traveling, like I do at this moment, so exciting. This was the best thing I have done since disembarking from the Europa.        

“You awe a lucky bastard”, would Redmond O’Hanlon say.

Perito Moreno Glazier

Near El Calafte (Argentina, 5 hours by bus)) lays, in Park National Los Glaciares, de Perito Moreno Glazier. That is one of he biggest glazier in this part of the world an one that is still growing. Had I chosen to travel by road up north I would have put El Calafate into further journey planning through Argentina. But I have decide to travel by boat and took a day tour to see the glazier, which is not to be mist, I was told by Ray Claes (Belgian and fellow Voyage Crew member on the Europa) and everybody else since.

It was truly worth the 10 hours in the bus, 4 times border hassles and a confiscated apple (a Chilean Granny Smith, that I was not allowed to take back into Chili). The bus driver told me afterwards: “You should have eaten the apple on the spot and given her the core”

The Perito Moreno glazier was worths every bit of inconvenience, though.

Just have a look!

After hours driving the mountains from which the glazier comes down appear on the horizon.
The road takes a turn and that’s the view you get.
On the lake I took the boat tour to the glazier. 
Just to get closer…..
..and closer.
This glazier is one of the few that is not retreating, but growing. That results in calving of the ice mass. Under, what sounds as artillery fire, big piece sometimes brake away and drop in the lake. 
Even closer you can look into the gazer and see these beautiful blue ‘chambers’. The darker the blue, the older the ice is. Under enormous pressure the snow is compressed in to ice and at a certain point the oxygen is pressurized out of the ice that lays the deepest. That ice is formed out of snow that fell thousands of years ago.  At he end of the glazier this ice can be pushed upward an become part of these formations. To me it was as if I was looking  at blue stainless windows in ‘Ice Cathedral’ built by nature.
After viewing the glazier from the lake, we were taken to a place where a network of bridges an balconies alouws a view from above.
An other explosion and a piece of ice falls of the arch, itself formed in a very big collapse, of which you can see the scars in this picture.
From time to time you her enormous explosions, that are not followed by any calving or even a falling piece of ice. Those noises are produced by movements within the glazier. The forces in the gigantic ice mass are unbelievable strong.
Around the corner there is the other front of the Perito Moreno Glazier and here due a different light fall the cyan color is again very much present.

Torres del Paine

DSC1378The park has, next to the famous ‘towers’, also an enormous  area of other mountains, with glaziers, lakes and rivers on offer. It is – among others –  also the home of Puma’s and Condors. A puma did not show, but all of a sudden the bus stopped and there were 4 or 5 Condors  flying above us. By the time we got out of the bus though, they had all landed and were sitting between the sheep. I hoop I’ll get an other shot at them somewhere because they are very impressive in the sky. As sitting ducks that was less the case, although one can see how big a bird it is.

DSC1396The first view I got from the Torres del Paine, overlooking a blue lake with a clear white rim. It is the Sarmiento Lake that has a pH of 9 in which no                     animal life is possible. It resembles in a way the original chemical soup, in which life began. The cyano-bacteria however can work its process of photosynthesis, by which they produce calcium carbonate skeletons. That is how the white rim around the the lake got so clear. So, near the ‘end of the world’ one can still fined places that resemble the situation in which life began.

DSC1411Life is very visible in the flocks of Guanacos, a wild type Lama’s, that jumps gracefully across the fences that are lining the roads. This type of Lama can’t be  domisticated, because they jump over the highest fences. Their meat is however very tasty and therefor farmers  crossbreed them with an other type that can be domisticated. Normally hybrids can’t reproduce, but these can. The farmers don’t let them though, because they want to prevent  the breed from degenerating.

DSC1419Another view on the Torres del Paine. This time overlooking a green lake that get its color from algae. 

DSC1442In the foreground, one of the rivers in the park that are formed by the water coming from the glaziers.

DSC1452When the sun changes position the color of the Torres change and it become clear that the rock is made up in different layers

DSC1462Just to get an idea about the layout of the park I took the picture of one of the maps that are placed on different locations in the park.                                  If you to the top half of the map, you see on the left water that comes from a big glazier. To the right of that is a  green strip (a valley) and onthe right of that there is an other such valley These three ‘legs’ of the “W” form a hiking tour, that takes experienced hikers 5 days. On different places there are camping sites and also other sleeping accommodations (for those who do not want to carry a complete camping outfit).

There is also a track that is called “The circle”. Together with the Kayaking and horseback riding it makes Puerto Natales a world famous center for out door sports.

DSC1511This is water comes from the big glazier that I referred to on the map. This water has,  what in printing/photography is called, the color Cyan.        While sailing on the ocean, I explained to people who did not understand why the water of that ocean could change color: “The water takes the color from the sky above it”.

Here in the Torres del Paine Park  it is quit different. Here you see the third color that a lake can have, under the same blue sky. The cyan color comes from the sediments that the glazier scrapes from the rocks and get into the water of the glazier lake. Maybe we could call it Patagonian Color Management.

Next Stop: Puerto Natales

On the way from Punta Arenas the bus gets onto the Pampas again. After some time we made a stop on a place where I could take some pictures of the area. No trees and just gras en little bushes.

Punta Arena and Puerto Natales are not that far apart, just a three hour drive on a good road. and after a little over an hour the scene starts to change, We pas big farms that sometimes look like little villages and are called ‘Estancias’. Trees are making an effort, although lot of them are dead and overgrown with what seems fungus. It is not easy to bee a tree around here,

IMG 0957When we enter Puerto Natales it does not look like a city. It’s more like a collection of temporary huts in the shadow of mighty mountains

IMG 0979It is also a port that once was the place with a big slaughter house. The frozen lamb from the whole area, including Punta Arena, was shipped from here to mainly England and the rest of Europe. The slaughter house is now a museum of the industrial activities in the past.

IMG 0961Todays the main source of income is tourism, in particular outdoor sports, In every street there are several Hostels en a whole series of shops that sell the gear for it. There are several agencies where you can book bus tours or make reservations for campsite along the different tracks. There is among others the W track of 5 to 7 days in the area of the Torres del Paine. One can go kayaking (also tours for more than one day) and Horseback riding. 

IMG 1145I got myself a bed for six night in The Singing Lamb. A fantastic pleasant Hostel, with a great service and big lockers in the dorms. It is growing, so I Hope it will not lose its character.  The  fried eggs in the morning were also something I’ll try it when I am back in my own kitchen at home. After the wonderful hostel Crois del Sud in Ushuaia  the second remarkable good Hostel of this trip.

IMG 0994The staff also told me to try this little restaurant for seafood, where I – on the first night – met this Chilean Lady from London, who knew the Bark Europa from the www and wants to go sailing on her. I had my MacBook with me so I could show her what is was like on the ship. Sometimes life is real fun.

IMG 1142I noticed that that next to the names of the street there was a picture of what looked like a Polar Bear. I found that strange, because they are from that other end of the word

DSC1360I took a day tour to the National Park Torres del Paine, with the famous three peaks (the towers). It is an enormous Park and before we got to it, we went to visit the Cave of the Milodon.

In 1895 the quit well preserved fur and skeleton of a huge animal was found, by a settler named Hermann Eberhart. It was double the size of the man.      It caused a enormous – worldwide – upheaval because people thought that it was  a – up until then – undiscovered predator, living in the area.                                                    A well reputed British  journalist came over and wrote extensively about it. In the end it became clear that the remains were that of the extinct, plant eating, Mylodon. It probably became extinct due to changes in the habitat and by becoming human prey.

DSC1351The area of which the cave is the centre has become the subject of several branches of scientific research. Geology (how did the area gets its shape over de last 20 millennia), Paleontology (which animal lived here) besides the Mylodon (Darwin on his way to the Galapagos showed already an interest in the area and is fossils). They found that it was probably a combination of climate change, volcanic eruptions and the first human hunters, that made them extinct. According to archeological studies, the first humans arrived here about 11.000 years ago.

DSC1369Some of the extinct animals are depicted near the cave. From left to right: a giant kind of Lama. a Saber-toothed Tiger and the Mylodon. All 1:1

DSC1364So, it became clear that the little figure next to the street names depicted the Milodon. That extinct giant herbivore, that had put Puerto Natales on the world map.

Closing the Antarctic Circle.

When I left Ushuaia I knew that the next stop would be Punta Arenas. That is the port where we started the 3 week journey to Antarctica, so I felt I had to finnish the journey there too.

The journey from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas was a strange experience Ushuaia lays at the edge of the Andes and is surrounded by forrest, although I have not seen pine trees, which I link to a mountain forest.

DSC1262The dense forest on the slopes of the Andes near the Glassier above Ushuaia.

After the mountains the terrain flattened into gentle slopping grassland, the Pampas.  Unfortunately I did not get a goo shot, through the dirty Window of a shocking bus,

Fot the next 10 hours in the bus, there was not a single tree to see. The word Pampas comes from the native language Quechua, in which the word pampa means flat.

It is fertile grassland on which no trees grow, due to the strong winds. The plots are fenced, but enormous. On them I saw a lot of sheep and I wondered how the owners would collect them when they have to be sheared. I also saw my first Lama’s, that give such fine wool and also what looked like ostriches.

IMG 0937In the local settlement they try Christmas trees. These settlements are often started as e few barracks for the folks that worked on the oil-pipe infra structure and on the drilling for new wells.

IMG 0949

The tree less coastline of Tierra del Fuego, near the Ferry between the 2 Chilean pars of the Tierra del Fuego. When the Bark Europa past here through the Strait of Magelhaen. we saw the Ferry crossing the Strait en now, about a month later, I’ll be on it.

IMG 0941The ferry is coming from the island, on which Punta Arenas is located.


Welcome to the real Patagonia, I thought. The start of a new chapter of my journey.                           


After the Bark Europa Adventure

Dear family and friends,

I gave myself some time to unwind from intense 4 month. I wanted to work on my Blog and think how to continue my trip.  

On the Europa I met Lucas Morea, who was borne in Ushuaia and asked me to say hello to his mom. That was great fun. I took her out for an evening meal, she showed me the surrounding. She took me and a friend of hers with her son to the Park National and we went to eat Lamb.

I went to her place for a New Years Party she had organized and we went for another little tour and another Lamb dish. I am very happy to have met her and I hope she and her son with his girlfriend Jamie will be able to visit me in Amsterdam in one of the near springs Lucas mailed me he will try.

I am going to try and post the Blogs I made of the days in Antarctica. I did not cover all the days, because it is just too much. I’ll work on the rest when I am back in Amsterdam. Besides how many Icebergs, Penguins, Whales an Seals can I bother you lot with. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I was part of it, but you are spectators.

Tomorrow morning I am going – by Bus to Punta Arenas – where I think I can ship my surplus luggage and see the pedicure for my left little toe.

There ar also nice things to do and I am going to plan my journey from there.

I’ll keep you posted.

                                             Best wishes for 2013 and lots of love to all of you,


IMG 0933Alicia Aracena on our second Lamb meal.

DSC1085Ushuaia across the  bay.

DSC1109My first Lamb meal with Alicia and her friend Adriana, who son took the picture.

DSC1163Lago Roca in het Park National, is a sweet water lake, that get is water from the glaciers. It has an open connection, with the Beagle  Canal, but because salt water is heavier than sweet water the lake stays sweet. It looks like a fjord, but is a lake.. The mountain on the other side are in Chili You could hike it , but that could get you into trouble with the border guards.   

DSC1192The local Grey Fox.


The Andes overlooking one of the lakes of the National park

Fare well to the Bark EUROPA. (28-12-’12)

The day after disembarkation  I walked towards the port, because I wanted to ask captain Klaas to give me the name and telephone number of the agent, because I hoped that he could help me to send my Antarctica gear – by boat – back to Nederland. 

The officer in charge must have taken a dislike in me. Because I was not allowed into the port. I sat there in the hope that some crew member would pass by. Diven came by and he promised he’d get me the information. A little bit ater Thomas and Nicole (who also had disembarked) were allowed to enter. Mate Hank came by, but could also not pursued the officer in charge.

One problem seem have been, that there were two vessels called Europa in port. Ours and a very big Geman comfort container. The officer who had turned me away, was not going to change his mind. Diven came back with the information I wanted.

To day, it worked out not to do me any good and I’ll have to solve the problem in an other manner. To ship by surface mail a suitcase from Ushuaia to Nederland seems not to be possible here. I’ll sort thing out and try it again from Punta Arena (Chilli). My experience at the Postoffice over there was much better. Here officials seem to enjoy making life difficult.

The tittle  of this Blog is about something else, though.

When I went to the port I saw the EUROPA next to a medium sized and  a  big cruise ship (the other Europa)

It can get bigger, though. Today I walked on Avenue Saint Matin and I saw that our Europa had gone for anchor in the bay, because there were two giants laying at the jiffy.

I felt so happy that I had been part of the Bark EUROPA experience. Maximal 40 passengers en a crew of less than 20, is perfect. It was great.

On these giants (more than 1000 or 1500 passengers) you cannot possible do landings, like we did. You cannot possible have the feeling of adventure, of taking part in an endeavor. or of have close contact withe the crew and share thoughts and feelings with the guides.

The EUOPA is great and the others are just big, bigger and maybe biggest. I am so happy that there is the Antarctic Treaty. Not longer than one night at a spot, not more than max 60 people on the ground at any time. The narrow channels will stop the giants of getting too close. 

Like in Las Palmas, I saw busses taking the passengers for a tour of Ushuaia and the street were filled with them. I think they must have an arrangement between the captains, because if all the ships let their passenger walk the Avenue San Martin at the same time they’d get stuck.

So if ship A. sends it people of in busses, the passengers from ship B can go for a stroll. The passengers of the smaller vessel can go to the prison &

nautic museum.

Small is greater than bigger. The EEE rating is a precious thing. I know.

DSC1051On the jiffy at Ushuaia.

DSC1053One day later.

DSC1056Big, Bigger, Biggest?

DSC1059The Europa had to move.

DSC1057Dwarfed but Great.

                                                                                      Iman Heijstek,  Voyage crew 1st Antarctica 2012