Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Camarones and Cabo Dos Bahias.

Cabo Dos Bahias is the third Magellanic penguin colony we will visit and the last in the Golfo San Jorge area. It is the smallest and least visited of the three but we have been told it is the most beautiful area of coastline. The town closest to the colony is Camarones which has a municipal campground where we can stay There is also a gas station. Since getting into Patagonia, gas stations are less frequent and we have been told to fill up whenever possible as some run out of gas and others, as we have already experienced, will only sell you a certain amount. Since there has been no gas since Trelew, we were relieved to find a station here. The campground is small but well maintained and is situated across the road from the beach. But first we visit the penguin colony. After entering through the gates, we notice that there is less supervision, no visitors’ center and a lot less people. There are in the region of 40,000 penguins here with 9,600 breeding pairs. As we walk through the colony we marvel at how close we can get and how comfortable they are around people. These birds do not see humans as a threat at all and are completely unafraid to come up and get very close. But don’t break the cardinal rule. “Don’t pet the penguins!” There are many small islands offshore and from one vantage point we were able to spot sea lions and elephant seals. Winston was again left in the motorhome but we promised him a run on the beach and as we headed back to town we fulfilled that promise. Unfortunately, most of the beaches consist of crushed stones and small pebbles. Not nearly as comfortable as sand and Winston finds he can’t run as well since he slips on the stones. Our camping site is facing the water and is fairly sheltered from the wind. There is a small restaurant attached and after looking at the menu decide to try it out. There are restaurants in town but conforming to Argentinean ideas of dinner, they don’t open until 8pm and that is just too late for us. The menu advertised salmon but when it arrived it was not salmon as we are accustomed. It is a white, firm meat and not fishy. Perhaps halibut or bass? We also ordered a seafood plate and it consisted of huge prawns, scallops, octopus, more of the salmon and salmon mousse. The food was fresh and excellent. Just as we finished eating, a truck pulled up and two local fishermen got out. They had come to sell their catch to the restaurant and now we saw the “salmon” up close. It is a huge fish, about 3 – 4 ft (over a meter) in length and though we still can’t decide what it is, we can rule out halibut. We watched the owner get out his hook and scale and negotiate with the fishermen. After they agreed on the price, he immediately began gutting and cleaning them. We asked if we could purchase a couple of steaks from him for the next day and he said that would be ok. Back at the RV, I checked our field guide for Patagonia and found out that salmon de mar is actually a member of the perch family. All we knew was that it was a very tasty fish and next morning we picked up our package of two large pieces, enough for two meals, for only $8.00 or so. If we had more time we would have stayed an extra day here, it is so peaceful and beautiful but we are conscious that the month is slipping away and we need to get to Ushuaia. Next stop Comodoro Rivadavia.

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