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San Martin de los Andes day two and Back to Bariloche

I had the best nights sleep of the trip last night with a very comfortable bed, a most quiet atmosphere and a natural awakening with no alarm to jolt one awake. I had dreamt I was at home and awoke after finding myself reaching over to touch my wife, H only to discover that I was almost 7000 miles away from her. It was a disappointment tempered only by the knowledge that I would be traveling home to see her on Monday. As I allowed myself to slowly awake and take in the silence and solitude i was able to look out the window to see a much nicer day which I had hoped would allow for a little more photography.

We decided to go into town and walk around in the light of day for a while before setting off back to Bariloche. Going into town I was able to capture the image of the austral thrush (Zorzal patagonico) in the introductory photo. San Martin de los Andes is a lovely little town and if you are in the Patagonia area to see some of the country rather than spending time in ski or tourist areas, there is no reason to stay in Bariloche. The parks and central areas appear to have much less graffiti than Bariloche and the species of trees appear to be much more diverse. I just wish we had some time to do some hiking in the mountains and woods.

The town itself is much cleaner and much more pleasant than Bariloche and is off the tourist path just a bit, although it is a destination for some travelers as evidenced by the huge luxury tour busses that come through town.

The day was overcast with some threatening clouds and the occasional very light rain shower, but nothing like yesterday. So, Ann and I were much more enthusiastic about photography opportunities. Of course Robert was more than accommodating of our photographic passions, especially given that he was not feeling too good. In fact, given how bad he was feeling, he was downright generous. After strolling around for a couple of hours, we drove out of town and caught a few shots back at the town and of the lake as well as some high flying American vultures, but no condors yet. I am frustrated as I have seen condors from a great distance when we were first flying into Bariloche, but have not had an opportunity to photograph them.

Driving out of San Martin de los Andes, we took the opportunity to stop at various points to photograph the Andes mountains.

We continued back along the road which was in much better shape than it was the previous day and we could actually see more of the country now which necessitated multiple stops where Ann and I hauled ourselves out of the car with camera gear to grab shots of things that struck us. The funny thing is how photographers think as there is a palpable sensation in the car as we come up on an opportunity where Ann and I start to stare at a potential photographic subject, composing the shot in our minds before both stating simultaneously, “stop the car”. Of course sometimes things just hit you in the face and it is patently obvious that a photograph is going to be taken such when we got to the top of a hill to find this face on the back of a tree staring back at us. I don’t know what it means, but we had to photograph it.

Another have to photo moment occurred as we crested the top of a hill around a corner to find this crested caracara feeding on the carcass of a cow that was likely hit by a car on the previous day. The whole thing was rather gruesome as there were actually a couple of caracaras along with some American vultures that were having a fine feed, but as we came around the corner, Robert slammed on the brakes and not a word was said as the cameras came out and we started shooting.

We drove on down the road until coming to an open meadow of sorts with a river running through it. It was a delightful pastoral scene with birds, cows, horses, fish and a bridge, so once again out of the car we scrambled and without saying much, each dispersed to various points in the little valley to capture images that spoke to us.

Also saw a number of birds including this roufus naped ground tyrant (Muscisaxicola rufivertex) and a black faced ibis (Theristicus melanopis) standing in front of the cows, which unfortunately flew off before I could get a closer shot.

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Fortunately I was able to get a much more satisfying shot of the ashey-headed goose (Chloephaga poliocephala).

We finally bundled ourselves back into our Gol and finished the trip back to Bariloche which was, after our long journey both nice to see and somewhat disappointing given the lovely time that we had back in San Martin de los Andes.

Dinner that night was had at El Boliche de Alberto which did have some remarkably good beef. Final butchering of many of the steaks occurs right in front of the grill ensuring a fresh cut of meat. Unfortunately Robert had to retire early and Ann and I finished the night having missed the opportunity to sample some of the cake which was so good, it almost made her cry.


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