I love the almost-naughty thrill of seeing something the hordes of tourists don’t see. It’s the reason I’m a ‘take the scary-as-hell craggy cliff face’ instead of the ‘obey the clearly marked stairs’ kinda woman. It’s that discovery high that had me pack a backpack for a solo round the world trip. And it’s that thrill that has me now, sitting in pitch black darkness and bitter cold with a truly gigantic, heaving, electric blue natural wonder in front of me, spanning as far as the eyes can see. I’m so into this thrill I could explode.

Let me back-track a bit. 

Argentina is the first country in my itinerary. After three days in Buenos Aires, a boozy stint through Mendoza wine country, and some ‘I can’t believe it’s not Scandinavia’ fun in Bariloche, I jet south to El Calafate, a stone’s throw from the South Pole. El Calafate is a place of alpine worn flatness, vivid purple wildflowers, bleached grasses, motley crews of street dogs, mouth watering asado (BBQ) in restaurants and surprise! Flamingoes in the lake!

cyncoco_midnight_blog_lake
Trust me, there are flamingos in here! There’s a funny story about why you can’t see any up close: A street dog followed me in secret, prowling for a whole kilometre as I trudged through the swamp, then pounced on me for licks and play only once I’d set up my camera and tripod.  Good timing little buddy! Thanks a lot!

El Calafate’s crowning jewel is the Perito Moreno Glacier. It’s a spectacular site, 60km wide, 1km tall, and constantly advancing onto the land. With all that weight and force behind it, chunks of ice as big as 10 story buildings, crack with almighty ‘booms‘ from the glacier every few minutes.

 

cyncoco_midnight_blog_glacier
For an idea of scale…the darkened iceberg in the middle of the photo is around the size of a 20 storey building… give or take 5 storeys.

I jumped on the tour bus during the day to visit it with the masses. While it’s truly magnificent and crumbles like it’s alive, I couldn’t help notice a couple of problems.

 

Clearly marked stairs.

A photography platform.

A LINE!

Ugh!

cyncoco_midnight_blog_me_stairs
Nothing improves a photo more than some man-made railings, amiright? Me looking obviously impressed by a safeguarding fence butted up right next to wild, untamable nature. 

This feeling stays with me until late that night, when I’m in a bottle shop spying a bottle of strawberry schnapps (because why not?) and meet a taxi driver. He’s on night shift in this sleepy town. I can’t imagine he’s too busy…

 

In my best ‘kangaroo’ Spanish I ask “So, can people see the glacier at night?”

“Si, por supuesto” (Yes, of course)

“Do many people actually go there at night?”

“No…”

“Well then, let’s go!”

And we’re off in the car. Thrill meter rising.

We drive through the alpine wilderness and arrive at Perito Moreno. The light from the full moon cuts right through the ice, sending all 60kms of it into a surreal neon glow. We clamber over rocks as far as we can go, away from the carpark and into untouched terrain. We sit down, noses and cheeks being bitten by the frost. We warm our throats sipping schnapps and take in the grandeur of the icy ancient beast in silence as the glacier cracks like thunder. We cheer to ending up here. 

This story was an entry I wrote for The 2016 World Nomads Writing Scholarship. I didn’t win, but it was great to start writing travel stories again, plus the 23 shares were very lovely, thank you, readers! Most had 1 share, so that’s a win of sorts, isn’t it? I’d previously authored a successful travel blog called The World Is Cyn’s, but it was tragically deleted by Twitter while I was on a round world trip writing for it. Ironic much? Lesson learnt – always write these bad boys up in Word first and save, save and save again! 
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Posted by:cynthiac

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