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17 April 2004

Dinner With Ann, Chris, Geraldine...
...Elizabeth, Robert, Phil, Grace, Keith, Melody, Jackie, Tanya, and several other people whose names I can't remember at this secong because I'm so exhausted. Had a superb time, however, and spent a lot of time just laughing uproariously. Robert has no short term memory due to a horrendous car accident, so every time we meet I have the chance to be someone different and new. Spent time trading funny remarks with Keith, my All Freakin' Night buddy. A nice woman related a story of her husband tracking down the Mold, Washington cemetary owner to inquire about plots. "Well, you can't buy just one -- you have to buy 8. And I just raised the price." To $15. Neglected to talk to Phil about composting toilets as he was at the other end of the table. As Phil and Grace were leaving I pointed out to Keith that every time I think of his father toilets spring into my mind. Keith helpfully offered to go get Phil so I wouldn't feel my evening was lacking. Before dinner some candles in the bathroom set the wall on fire, for a brief, but stimulating interlude.

Chris's joke: Q.:How did the Pentagon know there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? A.: They kept the receipts.

More From Tiff
Yesterday we went to the National Parque de Tierra Del
Fuego. It was so beautiful with all the trees turned
red and the white snow on the mountains all around.
It is such an empty land-with lakes and snow-covered
peaks forever.
There are few native plants or animals here because
its an island (a big one). Some years back some
traders decided to import fur bearing beavers to make
money from the fur trade. They imported about 20
pairs from Canada. It got out of control because
there are no predators and the winter is much milder
here than Canada. Anyway, the sad end of the story is
there are now 50,000 beavers and their fur is no good
because the weather is too mild. The beavers though
are cutting down all the precious trees that take
forever to re-grow. It even takes hundreds of years
for a fallen branch to decay because all life
processes are slow here. The few types of vegetation
here are small. There are only five kinds of trees
and when they established the prison colony here (more
in a minute on that) they chopped down trees that have
never regrown--they didn{t know at the time that they
grew so slow. Now the beavers are finishing the
process. The trees that are left though turn a
beautiful red.
The start of the Pan-American highway is in the
Parque. There is a sign pointing to Alaska (18,000
km.). One lady from Argentina thought Brad was so
handsome in his cowboy hat that she wanted her picture
taken with him. She thought he was an American movie
star. She made sure I was out of the picture- but
offered me a piece of cake and kissed my cheek as she
motioned me away while her friend took her picture
with Brad.
There is a great little old guy from Japan we keep
running across from Puerto Montt on. He is all alone
and very elderly and seems to speak neither English
nor Spanish--yet he is on every tour bus-boat,etc. He
takes millions of pictures. He is my heroe as he must
be very brave to be all alone and unable to
communicate very much. No one speaks Japanese here.
The old prison (1902) is one of the best museums I
have ever been to. It has a perfectly wonderful
display. The seperate buildings have a maritime
museum, a jail museum, an Antarctic museum, and an
indigenous peoples museum.
The Antarctic museum has reproductions of all the
Antarctic expeditions and ships (it seems they all
sank in one or two trips). All the stuff from
Shakelton,s and Ammundson,s excursions are there with
all kinds of original photos. I think if I were in
their shoes--I could have cared less about documenting
the whole thing. Some excusion group of 3 ate 72 or
was it 700 dead penguins-thats all they had for the
winter. They looked bad in their photo.
The Maritime museum had models of all the early
explorers ships including the Megellan expedition
where only 17 out of over 200 men returned. Sir
Francis Drake also brought ships thru here. There
were early charts and maps of this area dating from
1515. Some where made by Mercador. They really
progressed in acuracy from the guesses of the 1500s to
pretty accurate maps in the 1700s.
The Prison museum had statues of some of the most
notorious prisoners. One poisoned 8 in his family.
He was caught because he said he was shot in the foot
trying to save them from the poisoners. However, he
was found guilty when they discovered the bullet hole
went thru a part of his shoe where his foot would have
had a hole in it and his foot was untouched. Another
child killer had great big ears and they decided his
evil spirit was in his big ears so they clipped his
ears but he was killed by the other inmates soon
after-so who knows???
For me-The most interesting was the museum of the
early indigeneous people. Darwin went thru here and
documented these people. He said horrible things
about them-deciding originally that they could be the
"missing link". He said they were more like animals
than people. The thing was--they spent their lives in
canoes so their legs were very thin and crooked. They
didn,t walk really upright. Anyway at the end of his
life Darwin changed his mind and wrote articles trying
to undue what he said. The people all died quickly
after contact because they were always naked
(BBBRRR!!!) and went in the water and got clean on
occasion-also their temporary shore structures would
wash away and thus get clean. After houses and
clothes-they were surrounded by too many germs and new
dieaseases and there is only one woman left who is 83.
Tomorrow-LADE air to Calafate and the hostal Pioneros
Los Glaciares Its a tour to Moreno
Glacier on Sat.

posted by - 10:34 PM


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