25 January 2010

strait and narrows


bahia azul in the early evening. i'm thrilled to approach the strait from the tierra del fuego side and can barely wait to get on the ferry. the water is aquamarine blue and covered end to end in whitecaps swelling up to seven feet. the ferries are nowhere to be seen, and buses, sheep-carrying trucks, cars and people line the road leading to the beach.

shell-seeking, we climb over massive piles of kelp, walking back to revisit our landing. terns fish at the water's edge. the currents are clearly delineated by spots of rough chop, places of calm, and color differentiations in the water. a few of our tonhina friends swim by. back at the restaurant, an elderly, indigenous-looking woman sits alone in a chair pulled up against the window, hands folded calmly in her lap, gazing at the wind-tossed water.

finally, after a couple of hours' wait, the red ferry lopes across the Strait from Punta Delgada, tossing and swaying, sprayed with massive waves. it's terrifying and takes way too long. despite being loaded with ten buses, many cars and several hundred people, the boat teeters and rolls in the powerful chop. El Estrecho de Magallanes is a body of water to be reckoned with.

I'm impressed by the distance that we swam last year-- probably more than four miles-- and also filled with immense respect for the Strait, having been let across.

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