Sunday, February 14, 2010

Puerto Madryn y Punta Tombo: Dia de Penguinos!!!!!

Puerto Madryn is a small city in the north east of Patagonia. It has a beach, lots of ice cream, and lots of wind. Its also a great starting point for any trip in Patagonia. We arrived mid-day Friday and decided to explore only our hostel and the local supermarket. We found out we couldn't getting a running start as hoped due to a wind storm due to hit the next day. Instead we spent Saturday exploring the city:

It was once a tree, now its a statue swallowing Josh!

This one's for you Dan

On the pier

above natural caves that have some historical significance

a sweet truck

a real whale skeleton and a red one made of garbage

above the caves

being one with the cool trees

Along the way we found out that Saturday night was the inauguration of a wind festival/art exhibit. All the art pieces were wind influenced, and we heard a cool speech about it. The wind is such a constant presence in people's lives here. They hate it, they love it, but no matter is stays around. It was pretty cool to see just how it influenced these artists. There were painted kites, cool windmills, wind chimes made of painted rocks, beautiful paintings, statues, and one that was a door coming out of a painted wall with sand piled up on the floor as if the wind had blown it through the door with painted t-shirts caught on things around it all. That was a pretty bad explanation, but I tried. Anyway, here are a few:

when the wind spins the propeller it moves the pedals and the mans legs.

Today we finally got to go on our first excursion! We headed to Punta Tombo in a mini van to check out the infamous penguins. The driver was a speed demon and the sound of his wheels kept sucking me into weird naps. The first destination was a dock where some people went out to see the dolphins. We saved our pesos and drank maté with our new friend Anneka.

our maté spot

Then we finally headed for the penguins. I was hyped up on maté, but unfortunately the scenery was desolate and boring. It looks like it does in the pictures below as far as the eye can see. I also started to freak out and think I was going to be killed in an accident when we turned and sped down a gravel road littered with warning signs our driver seemed not to heed. Turns out he's an amazing driver, but I was a little scared.
The penguins reside in a National Park that is protected by the government. The penguins also have the right of way and if they cross the road you have to wait for them like you would for school children. Its pretty cute when they stop, think, and decide maybe they didn't want to cross this path, and then you just have to wait for them to decide. Luckily this didn't happen too often.
penguins kissing/pecking at each other with their beeks

The penguins we saw were all Megellen Penguins, and they are small - about a yard high. They are adorable, and all I wanted to do was cuddle with them, but I was told that if I tried that they would hook their beak into my flesh and pull. I decided to just take photos.
Turns out penguins are really cool animals. This colony has about 200,000 males and 200,000 females that arrive each year. The males come a month early. They use the same nest year after year, so when they arrive they clean out the nest, or make a new one of they have to. Penguins are monogamous, so if they pick a partner they stay with them the whole season. When the female arrives the male penguins make this crazy honking sound that can sound like a dieing horse, a goose, or a fog horn. Each male has its own distinct call and we heard plenty of good examples. When the female finds its mate they check out the nest and their man to see how clean they are. If they suffice then she stays with him, he does this funny dance thing, rubs her with his flippers to arouse her, then tries to balance on top of her in order to do the dirty. They often have to try several times and ofter fall off several times in the process. Its kinda funny. If the female isn't happy with her mate's preparations she goes off in search of a new one. I love this system. Josh says that it signifies that gold digging girls are only following their natural instincts. Thoughts?
The penguins produce two eggs 7-10 days apart, the first egg being a bigger baby and the one that usually survives. When it is time to migrate they use this oily substance produced out of a gland in their butts that they rub all over themselves to make their feathers waterproof. Otherwise they become very heavy and drown.

an angsty adolescent penguin molting

home sweet nest

when penguins aren't fishing or migrating they swim around like ducks

thousands of penguins, as far as the eye can see

celebrating Valentine's Day with a snuggle

lots of dangerously exposed nests - these are the loser penguins who didn't get there in time for a good location

After Punta Tombo we headed to Gaimon, a town settled by the Welsh when they fled GB to escape religious persecution. Below is a photo of the corner Butch Cassidy lived on for a while.

Tomorrow we are going to bike to see a sea lion colony and then we get back on a bus and we head to El Calafate via Rio Gallegos. We probably won't post till then.


Shelley Rolf said...

mucho gracias for the post. the penguins are adorable - as are you. xoxo

Gabril said...

Josh... Tenes trenzas en el pelo? O vi mal? Jajajajaja

Ann Behar said...


iMac said...

Jaja. Estuvieron en mi Ciudad! Vieron los pinguinos! Seems like you know more that I about them, jaja. I admire the honesty in your posts!

We miss you guys, the other day I mentioned you as if you wouldn't have left... Mind slip? It was horrible to fall back into reality again, jaja.

Anywho, keep having fun! Besos y abrazos!