Saturday, January 9, 2010

Puerto Natales, Chile

Here's a few shots in and around Puerto Natales, Chile, the point of our disembarkation from the M.V. Evangelistas (Navimag ferry).

Arriving in port:
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On the waterfront, we see Black-necked swans (!!) with some Chiloe widgeon:
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While I was looking up the duck in my field guide, a mylodon (giant ground sloth) snuck up behind me:
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...Just kidding. It's a statue, not a real mylodon. They went extinct along with the rest of the Pleistocene megafauna. There's a cave near Puerto Natales where mylodon remains have been found. A scrap of hairy skin made its way to the home of Bruce Chatwin, inspriring him to eventually travel to Patagonia and write the classic book In Patagonia as a result. This book was a fundamental source of inspiration for me to travel to the region. I re-read it during my trip there this winter, and so I was pleased to see Mr. Mylodon.
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Puerto Natales has capitalized on the mylodon. All the street signs have a little silhouette of him rearing up. At the statue, Lily pulled on his tail:
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The foundation for the mylodon statue had a lot of interesting rocks incorporated into it. By the ground sloth's left foot, there was a nice collection of spherical concretions:
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Aside from birdwatching and mylodon-harassment, we spent the afternoon organizing our gear and buying food for our backpacking trip. From Puerto Natales, we took a bus up to Torres del Paine National Park...

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