March 1. This morning we awoke early (was it still dark?) and boarded a bus for the airport to fly south to El Calafate, in Patagonia. The airport was pretty quiet that time of morning, so we were able to grab a bite and the amount of caffeine necessary to the day. The flight was delayed about an hour, so there was lots of sitting around time. Other than that, it was airport time – not much else to say.
The flight passed over the coast for part of the trip, over water when there was a bay and over land at the points, before plunging over land – the grand altiplano – which is pretty rugged, even badlandy. El Calfate is situated on a huge glacier lake, Lago Argentino, and shows signs of age, growth, and money, though it's still quite rustic. Our place, Hostel Hainen is nice, new, rough, and rustic itself. It will be a comfortable place for the next couple of days.
The weather is good. It was cooler and dryer than in Buenos Aires, though it has warmed up this afternoon. A nice breeze keeps it comfortable. We wandered down the hill to town and bought some lunch and some more for tomorrow.
The town is situated on hills above the lake, and stays away from the shores, mostly. There might be issues with water levels in the spring. Along the shore, especially to the west, they've built a street and boardwalk, some ten feet above the broad margin, right now above water. There are a lot of birds on the western lagoon, just out of town. I'm out of my depth for identifications, but the flamingos are easy.
We had dinner with Paula, the local host's representative, and got organized. Tomorrow is an excursion to the Perito Moreno glacier, which rolls off the South Patagonian Ice Field into a huge glacial lake, like Lago Argentino down the hill.