April 23, Yendegaia

After a rough night of engine trouble we sailed to Yendegaia. We motored for a while and reached a group of islands that only confused us. We were trying to figure out where the opening was which was fun but took a bit of wandering. We even took a wrong turn at some point but quickly recovered and got back on track. We then sailed along the shore while the wind was picking up, eventually reaching a staggering 30knots (60km/h). We made it to the safety of anchorage just before sunset and the first thing that we noticed was the retched smell. The air reeked of dead fish.
– There is beautiful Yendegaia for you! – Ian commented sarcastically.
As soon as we could see the bay we all started peeking out trying to see the two people actually living there. We had heard a story about them and were eager to meet them. Here is what the story says.
Three years ago Marcel, a Belgian sailor was exploring the canals with his girlfriend Anemy. They reached Yendegaia where Jose, a Chilean gaucho was living on his own, previously hired by an American company to hunt cows that had gone wild and were destroying the environment. Marcel and Anemy met Jose and Anemy fell in love with him. Only after a day together she announced that she was leaving Marcel and staying with the gaucho. This story could have had a rather unpleasant ending if it weren’t for Marcel great character. He took it like a man, wished them well and left. Later they all became great friends and to this day are living happily together. Although Marcel doesn’t live with them, he often visits and stays with them, helping them with food deliveries, etc. Ian even jokes that Marcel loves the gaucho more the Anemy does. Romantic…can’t think of a story more suited to the magic of this place.
Next morning we got up and Ian got us all to have a try at rowing in the dinghy. We eased it into the water, got the oars into position and each had a go at it. While we were fussing about on deck a bunch of curious sea lions approached us, happily flapping their tails, poking their heads out of the water in an attempt to see the strange foreigners. We greeted them with exhilarated shouts which only encouraged them further and they started showing off. A bunch of elaborated flips and flaps followed to our utter delight.
Mario was the first to row, and then it was my turn, before finally Liam got into the dinghy for his trial. All of this too place while the massive sea lions were happily swimming around and underneath the boat and the dinghy. We were loving it although their excessive excitement got us a bit worried from time to time, as we feared they might knock us off in one of those submerged tricks. None of that happened of course and it just ended up being a wonderful morning. I thought ‘I wonder what other people are doing at this time…?’. Probably not rowing with sea lions.
We made our way to shore and met up with Jose and Anemy. We mainly spoke to her as Jose only spoke Spanish and Ian didn’t (at least not much). Jose didn’t say much anyway, which is the status quo for a gaucho. A very respectable trait if you ask me. Anemy is a lovely, down-to-earth lady, with young but weatherworn face and a slim long body. Jose was not as nearly as attractive as I had imagined him but very nice nevertheless. I thought he would be some gorgeous gaucho wildly riding a beautiful horse, maintaining a cool expression while the wind whiplashed his face and blew his hair. Instead he was rather short, a bit chubby and covered in facial hair. Imagine their lifestyle though. It was only the two of them living in almost complete isolation in a simple wooden house snuggled in between the mountains tops surrounded by animals. No electricity or modern conveniences. They have their eight dogs, a number of beautifully bred horses and some 500 wild cows to hunt. They get visited ever few days or so by passing charter boats, or go to the nearby radio station. They organize hiking, fishing and horse riding trips for their guests and that is how they make their money. We wanted to do some riding and fishing ourselves but unfortunately the day we went there they had gone away. Jose had told Ian that salmon trout was so abundant that one didn’t even need a bate just a piece of string. I sure liked the sound of that, craving some fresh fish. The boys were rather fond of riding and seeing the horses it would have been a great experience but c’est la vie! Maybe next time.
The day we met them we spent some time hanging out, chatting (Anemy also let us go into the house to see a newborn puppy which was adorable) before we each headed our own way for a short walk. It was a beautiful sunny day, just before sunset. The only thing spoiling the idyllic setting was the stench of rotten sardines neatly piled on the shore for as long as the eye could see. We spent a quiet evening over a 3-star meal, chatting the night away.
Next day we went ashore again hoping to do some riding and fishing but like I said the couple was gone so we settled for a walk. The dogs were tied up in the shed, and all horses were let lose, casually strolling around. Patagonian geese could be seen in between the horses, and the shore was covered with seagulls, flying away in flocks every time one of us walked on the beach. Anemy had told us about a marked path leading to a nearby glacier but despite our best efforts we couldn’t find it and decided to go back before we got completely entangled in the vegetation. From there on every man was on his own. Liam wandered up the hill, Ian went along the beach, Mario and I headed to Jose’s slaughter house. I sat there for a while before I decided to head to some islands on the opposite side of the bay.
I bumped into Ian and we both strolled for a while, enjoying the sunset before we split up. I spent some more time on the rocks, trying to take a photo of a rare bird before it was time to go back and rinse my laundry in the nearby river. After that it was time to head back to the boat.
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