Argentina – Letters and Photos

The images of the rooms at the Estancia are not complete yet, but the rest are now online at

– Rusty

Also here is a Google Earth image of Estancia Alicura and the surrounding area.  Bariloche is just off the lower left corner of the image.




February 23rd, 2007, 1pm20070223_argentina_003_26

El Calafate, Argentina at the airport.

Greetings one and all,

Thanks for the many nice notes awaiting me upon my return to a "normal" connection to the Internet. After I wrote the note yesterday we had some WILD waves and weather just before Cape Horn’s protection… Seth Resnick and Kevin Burke (he works for NBC) went out on the top deck (unknown to the ship’s crew) and climbed to the crow’s nest which is probably 60 ft. above the water surface. They came down after the waves that came over the bow sprayed them heavily. I thought Seth was going to overdose on adrenaline he was so excited (and wet). They got some amazing action shots. Shortly after that we entered the Beagle Channel and saw it in the evening light just as Charles Darwin did on the HMS Beagle. It was quite, calm, and lovely to cruise after our 3200 mile voyage. We anchored for dinner and awaited the pilot to help guide us to the dock in Ushuaia.

I cannot say enough nice things about the crew. They were all delightful, kind, considerate and willing to do almost anything to help a crazy set of people "get the shot". I started doing some short name/city of origin clips of passengers and crew to add to the end of whatever comes from editing almost 9 hrs of video. The second Quark crew member who did this, suddenly added at the end, "and I am the expedition leader" (he was not)… so then everyone else realized they could do the same so I shot them again, each saying something to this effect. I told the story to the Captain Sergey Nesterov (sp?) who speaks a little English, and he said he would be on the tape too. First think out of his mouth was "I AM THE EXPEDITION LEADER"… then we had to cut as he and I, along with most of the other people on the bridge started crying we were laughing so hard… a special moment. None of us expected this from his lips.

Last evening we had everyone contribute six images to a slide show… the breadth and depth of the work was truly inspiring. Attached are a few I submitted. The seal with my point/shoot camera (I was in the water with him)… a large tabular ice berg… a "flat" version of the 360 image I took from the top deck… a view of the ship in Stromness Bay, South Georgia Island, where Ernest Shackelton found help after crossing this incredibly rugged island in 36 hrs. There is a LONG panorama, 11 images I think went into it, from one of the channels we were in…. the light took my breath away. I’ll upload a slide show after I get more of these tweaked. Meanwhile, I’ll keep the attachment level low.

I left the ship about 8 hours ago in Ushuaia. Paul Allen’s yacht OCTOPUS was still anchored in the bay. The dock was lined with four QUARK ships. I am now in El Calafate awaiting my next flight to Bariloche to go to Ward Lay’s estancia. I talked my way into the Aerolineas Argentinas VIP lounge and found the only plug to power the notebook behind the bar. The view from the lounge is fantastic too.

I keep trying to speak French to the Argentines… they smile and laugh. I’ll have to learn some Spanish, it’s worth it just to come back here. I just used Google’s translate window to figure out that DEMORADO was not the end of the world (been there)… just DELAYED, my flight that is to say. But then, I already knew that it was an hour late… heck, it’s not "island time" but it’s close. More soon…



February 26th 2007, 6:40pm20070226_hq_light_copy_copy2_2

Estancia Alicura, near Bariloche, Argentina

Hi again, did you think I fell off the edge finally?

Perhaps the edge of the dining chair in my new fatted state. Surely it will be a happy stumble from plate to floor, sweetened by the crepes or the home grown raspberry tart… one of which followed the hearth roasted pig, organic corn on the cob from the garden, courses which came after the empanadas and chorizo that were washed down with copious quantities of Malbec or Cabernet that came after the smoked trout & cheese that had been melded into one incredible infusion of flavor to compliment the family grown Chardonnay. Let me tell you… I can’t take much more of this. Its all becoming confused in my head. I need a tugging dog to drag me around a park and retrain my Frisbee throwing brain. To think only last week I was eating oatmeal for breakfast made by a German, served by a Russian… and I liked it.

I turned in last night exhausted at 1am. The day had begun with a 5:30am wake up call so I could take a sunrise photo from "inspiration point". I was accompanied to the spot by Pedro, the handsome, exceptionally polite and gracious employee of Estancia Alicura. Another guest, Colin, from Sausalito, CA, came along as well. I promised Colin it would only be about 15 minutes once we got there. Well, 2 hours later Collin was glued to my Leica binoculars looking at a red stag 700 yards away prancing about in an early stage of "rut" the mating season "roaring" his heart out. Finally we left and returned to the estancia where Colin was whisked off to the river to catch (and release) some 22 inch rainbow trout with Fernando, the most elegant fly fisherman around. The rest of us, were off for a Sunday drive to the country side. In the span of about 7 hours we toured areas that looked like the high desert of Arizona, to the forests of Chama, New Mexico… to lunch in a village that looked like Kitzbuel, Austria… then back past lakes that appeared to be dug by glaciers last week. We were home by 8pm, time enough to clean up for dinner at 10:30pm… towards the end of which I saw about five minutes of the Oscars before I had to pass out.

Today I wisely decided after I began taking photos at 7am that I would only have ONE of the homemade scones…. well, it ended up being two after putting some homemade raspberry jam on the first one, it was irresistible. They reminded me of my grand mother’s biscuits more than scones, rich and flaky, better the next day toasted with some honey and butter…. maybe tomorrow, I’ll check to see if any are left. Sliced down the middle… when toasted then have this wonderful aroma…. oh, sorry, I am getting lost again. It’s intoxicating. I suspect the gauchos get some of these leftovers as we never see them again. The gauchos or the food. There are 27 people here working at the estancia. I have seen the house keeper, Nadia (funny, sounds Russian), once I think. My clothes disappear from the floor and reappear in the closet the next day, clean and folded. I didn’t even fill out the laundry ticket and leave the bag on the bunk in my cabin…. or was that last week?

One has to make a leap of faith sometimes to get to places of the heart, the physical places that prepare the body for opening the mind. Antarctica certainly was one, and this place in Argentina certainly is another. Ward, my hat is off to you even if my shirt can’t be buttoned… mentally I am just a receptacle for recipes now. I look for good light with the camera in the smoke pit now. Here is a night time shot of the southern sky just a few yards away from the Quincho ("BBQ place")…

Argentine Night 1 and Argentine Night 2

You will need Apple’s QuickTime installed to view it. They are each about 1.5 MB, so be patient. You can see the Milky Way. Look for the Southern Cross, Magellanic clouds, Alpha Centurai system…

And here is a "flat" version of the dawn image. I left it large so you can see the detail.

The mountains on the left are not on the estancia but are in Argentina, but the pointy one is in Chile. The rest of what you see is all Estancia Alicura. It is an amazing place and I am grateful for the invitation to photograph it.

So tomorrow we leave for Buenos Aires for two nights before returning to Texas on the evening of March 1st.

The FatIceMan is coming back. I’ll wear my yellow Quark parka… it’s roomy.