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31 December - Puerto Guadal
Today's plan is to walk along the beach to a point where we'll join a boat trip to a glacier.
View from the room again. First thing in the morning, there's sunshine with a light drizzle which creates a small rainbow.
Amanda isn't entirely keen that the beach route involves a swing bridge, but is bold and fearless, even when I tell her she has to go back and do it again so I can take a picture.
There are two jet boats, one of which rejoices in the name "Doris" while the other is called "Tsunami" but in much smaller lettering, perhaps to avoid tempting fate.
We are joing a fairly large group, but it seems that several of them aren't entirely happy with the lake crossing. It's not looking rough here, but apparently there is some wind a bit further out that may cause a bit of turbulence. They will therefore be driving to a point much nearer the glacier before boarding the boats. Amanda is a little uncertain herself, but we'd never be able to get back to collect our own car in time, so she's willing to take her chance.
That means that we'll all board Tsunami while Doris comes along empty to pick up the rest at the rendezvous.
Off we go!
The lake is definitely not flat any more, but the boats are fast and furious. Amanda's actually fine with that, it's slower, more wavy motion that upsets her.
Oh dear. Doris has broken down!
We are most of the way to the other side of the lake when we have to turn back and tow Doris home. The crew will have to break out another boat and we'll start again.
Unfortunately, bobbing about in the water while attempting to restart Doris, then attaching the tow-rope, has now triggered Amanda's motion sickness and she's feeling distinctly queasy. The wind is picking up a bit as well, and reluctantly she decides she won't be part of the expedition when it resumes.
Some more bird pictures while we wait for the replacement boat to be ready.
Rather fine ducks.
And now what happens? Well the people who'd gone ahead phone to say that their schedule doesn't allow them enough time to complete the trip now, so they're having to cancel. We no longer need a second boat.
Which means we didn't need to come back at all. Harrumph.
But no matter, off we go again. The wind is definitely stronger and the waves much bigger now, so it's fairly clear that Amanda was right to stay behind. And thinking about it, even if we'd got there the first time when she was ok, the return journey could have been very unpleasant. I shall just have to take lots of pictures for her.
Or maybe I won't: now Tsunami breaks down!
You couldn't make this up. The throttle pedal cable has snapped, so the engine can only be operated by somebody sitting with the cover off and pushing the mechanism by hand. We return to base yet again, and this time we accept we will just have to call it a day.
As you can see, the waves are getting a bit too strong for comfort.
We'll just walk back and figure out a Plan B.
Hmm... Just realised, we've had a free jet-boat adventure ride! And a free packed lunch. And it's not as if we've never been up close with a glacier before, so unlike the Marble Caves, we're not missing out on something truly special. Maybe not such a bad morning after all.
Another bird? We rather like the coloured beak. I believe it's a Crested Caracara, although it's slightly different looking from other pictures I can find on the web.
It's a type of falcon, I gather. Not particularly rare or exotic locally, but not the sort of thing we get visiting our bird table at home.
So this afternoon, we think we'll just walk up the road in the direction away from town, which we've not driven and have little idea what we might find. We do know from the road signs that it's about 100km to the town of Chile Chico, near the Argentinian border, but that's a bit far to walk.
Fascinating fact of the day: Chile Chico produces the world's most southerly wine! You can read about it here (in Spanish, but Google Translate is your friend).
But anyway, back to walking along the road a bit.
Dotted around the place, there are occasional little roadside shrines, and this is one of the more elaborate. I don't think it's meant to represent Dave Grohl about to play a drum solo for the Little Mermaid. [Did I say that out loud? Oh dear. People will think I'm odd.]
We come to a sign telling us about a waterfall. Nearby there's a small hydroelectric power station, and we find that we can walk up a really steep road which soon becomes barely a track.
This is what it looks like halfway up. It's really a series of small waterfalls rather than a single big one, but the total height is quite substantial.
And this is more or less the source of the cascade. A little downstream from here, there's a holding pond that feeds a pipe to the generator down below.
Electrical conduit to the left, water pipe to the right, the generating station at the bottom and a pretty spectacular view beyond.
But wait! All is not what it seems! We read here that,
"Chile's environmental court on Friday [in October 2021] declared illegal the construction and eventual future operation of the Los Maquis hydroelectric power plant"
That explains why the plant seemed to be showing no signs of being operational when we looked through the fence, because it wasn't.
It seems that the local people objected to the potential destruction of a significant beauty spot and tourist attraction, but originally their objections were disregarded because the plant was seen as environmentally friendly 'green' energy. The court decided that this just wasn't good enough.
The report says that the energy company could appeal, but I've not found any evidence that they did, and it's likely that Covid would have prevented much work taking place even if they had, so for now this seems to be a bit of a green white elephant.
As I said, it's really steep, and Amanda is pleased that she's remembered her poles this time.
Later we learn that the only vehicles that have ever been able to get up here are the construction machines for the plant.
Obviously none of this is anything we know at the time, but it's been a lovely afternoon excursion.
And it's New Year's Eve dinner in the lodge restaurant.
The menu is extremely meat-heavy, and while Amanda is by no means a true vegetarian, it all gets to be a bit much for her, especially as it's something like seven 'small' starter courses at first, none of which we would call particularly small ourselves. As it's been a long and active day, she excuses herself before the end and goes back to the cabin. I stay on for the main course, which is basically a big chunk of barbecued beef. It's a very nice big chunk of barbecued beef, but light and delicate cuisine it ain't.
I don't quite make it to midnight, though. I'm tired too.
Happy New (almost!) Year.
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