Patagonia - 14-02-26 to 14-02-28

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Susan's Blog
Road trip to Penisula Valdes. I took it as a good omen at the start of the roadtrip when we came across the giant yerba mate gourd roadside attraction. I had just assumed the giant things were a North American thing...possibly Australian as well.
The first thing we learned on this trip was that apparently south america has large fligthless ostrich looking birds, the rhea. When you are not expecting them it can be a bit confusing. The first time we saw them on the side of the road we both thought they had just escaped from an ostrich farm. When we saw them again about half an hour later we just thought Argentina ostrich farmers were really bad at building fences. It just got worse from there, when our next spotting was actually a severely injured one that had been hit by a car and was flopping around on the road. We both thought the only humane thing to do was to finish it off (it was very injured). In retrospect I think it was an adult lesser rhea since it was only about 3ft tall, but at the time as far as I knew I was driving a Peugeot back and forth over a baby ostrich's head. All in all very disturbing, and it didn't help that Susan insisted on being dropped off 100 ft down the road to stare into the horizon with her ears plugged as I euthanized the poor creature. Apparently for the duration of this trip I was transformed into an avian reaper. It has probably been almost 20 years since I killed a bird while driving, yet on this trip I killed six. Two pigeon like things, two small sparrowy birds, a partridge looking fellow and one intential baby ostrich (or more likely a lesser rhea) murder.
Turns out if you start early in the morning on the peninsula all of the animals are out and about and haven't been scared away by tourists yet, including tons of their funny looking (are they wearing shorts?) bunnies (maras).
I was also happy to finally see the wild guanaco (and lots of them), cousin to the domesticated llama. According to wikipedia they can run up to 55 km/h even over rough terrain, and Susan has one great video to prove it. I'm sure she will include it in her blog when she finally updates it 3 or 4 years from now.
Our first penquin sighting (at Punta Cantor). I love those cute noisy fuckers. They dig little caves, how freaking adorable is that?
First elephant seals. Fat adorable fuckers.
The only village on the peninsular, Puerto Piramedes. So far every beach we have seen in Argentina has had a very gradual slope, which make for huge beaches at low tide.