Wednesday 4 December 2013
The winds continue to blow!
After a calmer-than-expected sojourn into the open waters of the Chilean coastal Pacific Ocean, we continued on our way to Punta Arenas in the early morning hours. The winds and military ships followed us into the Magellan Straits, and when we arrived at Punta Arenas the port had been closed for small vessels due to high winds and a military ship once again occupied our spot at the pier! After a slight delay and some re-scheduling of those booked on small boat tours, many of us were off on a wide range of excursions spreading out across the region.
Nearly 50 guests decided to visit the Olga Theresa Estancia. On the 1 ½ hour trip to the farm we saw rheas (the South American ostrich), Chilean flamingos, Andean condors, eagles, and variety of other birds. The Estancia was founded by French-Irish immigrants in the early 20th century and our host was Yvonne, the latest descendant to manage the ranch.
Once at the estancia, we first had coffee and tea to break the chill of the high winds. We then proceeded to a fenced off area where the sheep-herding skills of the owners’ dog was demonstrated. With a combination of whistles and hand movements from a cowboy on horseback, the sheep dog easily moved the flock of 20 or so sheep around the field.
We were amused by a young dog in training that wanted to join in the herding exercise but was sent away by the rancher until he could become more skilled! Sheep shearing and sorting of the wool were then demonstrated to the discomfort of two chosen sheep! We returned to the compound for a delicious lunch of barbecued lamb, potatoes, salad, and wine. Once aboard the buses for our return to the ship most of us immediately dozed off but were left with a greater appreciation of the difficult and demanding lifestyle of these staunch farmers eking out a living in the middle of the vast Patagonian pampas!
Dr. Chuck Kennicutt, Lecturer
Tags: Antarctic Dispatch