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April 11, 2005

Hi everyone,

Lizzie are returning to Chile from our galavanting
in Argentina. We spent the last week and a half on the Atlantic coast
(yes, the maquina got us all the way from the pacific to the atlantic)
visiting some of the coastal preserves. We went to the tourist mega destination
of Penninsula Valdez, which was cool, but a little over-rated. We saw
magallenic penguins, sea lions, and even a couple of orcas off in the
distance. We were waiting to watch the orcas swim up on shore and attack
the sea lion pups, an occurence which is heavily advertised in the park
propaganda, but, alas, no action. We spent a couple pleasant days in the
beach resort of Puerto Madryn, but since it was the off season it was
deserted, although the weather was still nice. I get the feeling it doesn’t
rain too much in this part of Argentina.

Then yesterday we saw more penguins on the atlantic
coast in another park, tons of them actually. Probably three or four thousand
of them just standing around. And get this, they live in holes… in the
ground! Yeah, they actually dig holes in the ground and live there. And
this colony was HUGE. Penguins in all directions as far as you could see.
And this was the low season for them too, during breeding there are 24,000
of them! But that hardly compares with South America’s largest congregation
of penguins, which gets up to 200,000 magallenic penguins during mating
season, just 50 miles up the road. Other cool wildlife we saw included
these wierd, short haired llama-like animals called guanacos that live
out in the desert. There are also these cool little emu type birds called

But the best of the land animals was the amardillo.
Now, I’m sure they’ve got these in the states too, but I’d sure never
seen any just walking around out in the desert… pretty cool.

So we ended up having a nice trip over to the east
side. And today, we drove back across the arid expanse known as the Patagonian
pampas and made it with absolutely no car trouble. The way over had been
slightly less misfortune-free, but it all worked out. The pampas are actually
very interesting, although often there is very little of interest to see.
It is in fact the vast expanses of very little to see that make it so

The flora and topography are a lot like parts of the
high mountain desert in eastern oregon, except much, much more vast. We
travelled 400 miles across the expanse today, but the pampas extend almost
1000 miles both to the North and South as well. There is a lot of nothing.
No people at any rate. There are a lot of other things however, such as
dinosaurs. This is one of the most dinosaur rich areas in the world, as
we learned on our visit to the paleontological museum in Trelew, which
sported many full skeletons of large and small dinosaurs alike. Very cool.
Even part of the enormous Patagonisaurus was on display there… the largest
of all of the dinosaurs to ever walk the earth. Which is big.

Before we left for the Argentina we both showed our
parents around southern Chile, and then spent a few last days on the Futaleufu.
The parents were great fun, and we got lots of free food. Since we first
got to Chile, I have disliked the cuisine, but I must say it was markedly
better while the parents were here. But don’t let that fool you, Chilean
food overall is bad. Argentinian food, however, has been good. And of
course much more affordable than Chile. Showing the caraterra austral
(the only road in southern Chile) to my parents, in the 87 VW was great
fun. I’m sure they will have stories to tell about it for a while. We
only had to change one tire and reattach the muffler twice. They still
haven’t discovered the joys of pavement down that far south.

But now, we are heading back to Chile, and our next
mission is to sell the car. It should be interesting. We no longer have
a buyer lined up… so, wish us luck.

Once that’s taken care of we are going to enjoy Buenos
Aires in an apartment that my grampa is putting us up in. After that it’s
goodbye to South America. I think walking into Portland international
airport is going to feel pretty weird.

Anyhow, we return to Portland on May 4th. So if you
want to meet me at the airport with flowers or anything, feel free. Otherwise,
it looks like we will be camping out at the Giles’ again (thanks guys!)
until we can scrounge up some jobs and perhaps, I don’t want to make any
promises here, a place to live.

In other important news, I got into the Epidemiology
masters program at OHSU in Portland and plan to attend school starting
in September. Hooray for more school. Hopefully I can fit my prerequisite
stats class in this summer around my busy kayaking schedule. Although
that will be distinctly easier now that we are not going to central asia
for that Kyrgyzstan expedition. Oh well.

Also, for those of you in Walla Walla, I will be in
town a few days after I get back for a memorial service for my Nana. I
plan to stay in town for a week or so afterwards, so put all your work
aside and we can go do some boatin! Also, if you want, I can come and
do an Alumnus Pro Kayaker freestyle clinic. Maybe we can huck some ends
together in the pool again for atleast a night.

Anyhow, if anything amazing happens, I will let everyone
know, otherwise I shall send everyone personal emails soon.

Lots of love,