The land of giants

As promised, here’s a look at Patagonian Chile.

Chileans are, for the most part, warm and friendly. Our flight from Atlanta arrived in Santiago about 3 hours late. Standing in line waiting is one of the popular national activities in Chile, and we had to cut a few lines to make the next flight. Although we could not apologize in Spanish, people were kind, smiled, and let us hurry along.

The road trip photos demonstrate the huge civil engineering task the Chileans face, first in completing the task of constructing and paving the Carretera Austral, and second, of driving on it in with the local cows enjoying a break.

One of the great joys of fly fishing is the travel to spectacular places. The mountains and forests form “the wilderness without teeth.” It’s wild country, but with very few large animals. Patagonia just does not have the large top-of-the-food-chain carnivores (i.e., bears) that we do in North America. The sound and fury of the primaries did not make the faintest echo in the mountains.

Europeans introduced trout into South American waters around the beginning of the twentieth century, and the fish have thrived. They grow fat and strong in the clear, cold water of the rivers that run down out of the hills toward the Pacific. Patagonian Base Camp sits on the banks of the Rio Palena, and provides opportunities to visit many of the nearby streams.

Next week, I’ll return to more serious subjects. For now, have a look at the photos, imagine the stars of the Southern Hemisphere spread out in a moonless sky a hundred kilometers or more from the nearest town, and imagine the sound of Rio Palena hurrying past. What a wonderful trip!


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