Didem Doğan

El Calafate: the city by the turquoise lake of Argentina

After a three-hour flight from Buenos Aires it takes another twenty minutes to reach to city centre of el Calafate by car from the airport. It is a small and tranquil city where the main activity is tourism. The main avenue Libertador is lined with hotels, cafés, restaurants, shops where you can find everything necessary for your outdoor activities and souvenirs, a nice book store, chocolate shops. If you look for something typical to eat it is the ‘cordero’, the lamb; indeed Patagonia’s another principal economic activity is sheep cultivating. Many international brands such as Benetton own lands with sheep that are later used to produce wool (during my days in Patagonia, newspapers were telling the story of a young activist Santiago Maldonado, who, while defending the rights of the indigenous people of Mapuche that are to be the real owners of these lands, got lost or was forced to get lost, and died in the river; later in Buenos Aires at the May Square I saw people asking for the rights of this activist). To watch el Calafate nearly from the sky we get on the bus that looks like a truck or a big 4x4 and climb to the mountains. When we reach to top following a narrow road the lake of Argentina, the biggest of the country, the mountains behind the lake, el Chalten at the opposite side look stunning on a sunny day like this. The landscape looks as if we have arrived on a different planet, Mars maybe! There is no tree due to the erosion that is caused by strong winds. The little fossils of the trees, who look like dead babies just after being born, tell us how it is impossible for a tree to grow here (Actually the only mountains with forest were the ones I saw when we were coming back from the Spagazzini glacier; maybe that face of the mountain did not get any wind). We then walk down where these huge stones stay since eighty million years! And we have a hot chocolate at that little cabin without having any idea why and how they built it there.