Tuesday, January 18, 2011

From peaks to beaks

Our first drive day in Ernie had us heading north into Chile. Two hours of paperwork at the boarder and after fixing Ernie’s leaking diesel tank, we boarded a ferry to land on South America proper. Black and white porpoises dove under the ferry as we approached the mainland and we spent our first night rough camping by the roadside. Martin cooked while the Hot Rockers setup camp and built a raging fire to keep out the chilly Chile wind.

Punta Arenas, a port town just north of the Argentine-Chilean was our destination to pick up vital parts for Ernie. So while Ernie was getting a new clutch and brakes, we boarded the Nuevo Galicia for a day trip to a penguin colony on Isla Magdalena.  Approaching the island, we watched the penguins as they darted through the water, speedy and agile, leaping out of the water like missiles and knifing smoothly back into the water to dart ahead again.  Once they hit land, however, not so much on the finesse.  They were clumsy and ungainly, waddling along, toppling over stones on their way up the beach. 

We spend an amazing 1 ½ hours on the island watching them and sitting with them.  They hid in their burrows with their young, greeting each other, stretching their beaks to the sky and honking like geese in tuxedoes.

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