Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.

El Calafate

I’ve had a host of people recommend El Calafate (~6,000 people, ~650 feet, 50° south latitude) to me as a required stop on my tour, although I can’t for the life of me remember why.  But…it’s the next logical destination to the North and will be my first stop in Argentina.  Per usual, we’ll figure it out when we get there.

I knew I’d be spending Santa Day here, so I spent a little extra time hobbling around on one foot trying to find a nice place to stay.  Moments after checking in, the hostel owner insisted on driving me to the hospital to have my foot looked at.  I don’t really have cause to argue other than being a chicken shit, so I jump in the car.

I go to the front desk.  The receptionist asks for my passport and asks what is wrong.  We spend 60 seconds on paperwork.  She asks for ARP$30 (US$7) and sends me around the corner to an exam room.  I wait 2.5 minutes for the doctor to arrive.  I tell him what happens, he looks it over, tells me how to care for it, writes prescriptions and instructions, and sends me to the nurse next door to get taped up.  I’m in and out in 15 minutes total for US$7.   No insurance.  No middleman.  No bullshit.  Please tell me anywhere in the “First World” where you can get health care like that.

I had the same experience in Cusco.  In fact, I had the doctor’s cell phone number and could call him anytime I needed him and he would meet me within 15 minutes.

For Santa Eve, I went out with a couple of people I met at the hostel and ran into 6 different people I had met along the trek in Torres del Paine.  Of course, we celebrated with tequila.  In fact, the best damn tequila this Santa has ever had.  If you can find this, buy it and drink it.  Straight.  No training wheels.


Santa Day, I felt like cooking and wandered all over looking for ingredients to make some pasta.  Most things were closed, but I did find a nice piece of meat, some tomato sauce, and three bottles of wine, so that would get me most of the way.  My gracious hosts came to the rescue with spices, garlic, and basil and I got to spend the entire day by myself cooking, reading, and drinking wine.  Highly recommended.


The next day, the hostel owners suggested that we make some Argentinean empanadas together.  They give us a grocery list and then 5 of us who are staying there spent 6 hours (and 7+ bottles of wine) chopping, prepping, cooking, cooling, rolling, baking, and eating with Dario and Belѐn.  One of the coolest experiences of my trip to-date (although I am a sucker for cooking and wine).



And, yes, all the shoddily constructed ones that everyone is pointing to are mine…  I’m not a “physical” artist, okay.  Back off.


Later that night, I’m having a conversation with two of the other hostel guests when something feels odd in my mouth.  I excuse myself momentarily to the restroom and am shocked to pull out my gold crown with half a tooth in it.  Cool!  More South American health care…  In the morning, Dario called a dentist who said “send him over right now.”  Okay, I guess we go right now.  This time, I have to wait 6 minutes (fucking disaster, these people), she cements me back together, and I’m out the door in 15 minutes yet again.  Maybe I can get a gig traveling the world and hurting myself just to test out the viability of health care systems?


The Day After The Day After Santa Day, I’m feeling bold (and really fucking stir crazy), and take the bus out to Perito Moreno Glacier and do some walking around.  Apparently, the trekking on the glacier itself is really an amazing experience, but that would require the use of cramp-ons which would require cramping something onto my melted foot which would require me to cry like a little girl.  So, the pretty boardwalks with all the lame-o touristicos it is.  But I still did get in my first significant walking in 6 days, which felt pretty damn good.


Considering my limitations, El Calafate was cute as hell, and a great place to get stuck for Santa Day.  The Argentines seem to be incredibly friendly people.  The beef is amazing.  And, most importantly, there is killer wine for cheap cheap cheap everywhere.  Argentina and I are going to be good friends.  We might even make out later.



2 Responses to “El Calafate”

  1. Wayne says:

    I really like your writing tone here. Mellow sardonic. I think it's you. Can you do it again, or were you smashed?

    Glad to hear the Patagonian banana leech was excised.

    Happy New Year! Thanks for the vicarious thrills.


  2. Julie W says:

    I don't know why I haven't commented previously on your blog seeing as I read all the posts…

    Either way. Happy Belated Santacon to my favorite South American Santa. 🙂

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