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08 April 2004

More From Tiff
Everything has far exceeded my expectations. The four
day boat trip was unbelieveable. This time there
really are no words. The whole rest of the world
seems the size of a toy. Everything is so
immense--The distances, the mountains, the glaciers,
the waterways,everything is giant sized. For three
nights and four days there was not a sign of humanity.
We even only saw one other boat. After 3 days we hit
the only outpost--a village of 115 souls. We went
ashore there.
The outpost was called Puerto Eden. The last
remaining 7 pure-blood Kawesgar Indians live there. I
think we saw all 7. There are also some Chilean
fishermen. Kawesgar means "Man made of skin and
bones". They lived in that area for 7,000 years and
then a weather station came and made life too easy and
they all died out from being given flour and other
foodstuffs from the station. Clothes were the biggest
killer. The women used to dive naked with animal fat
rubbed on their bodies to keep warm. They dived for
the shellfish that was a main staple of their diet.
Once they wore clothes the clothes kept the moisture
on their bodies and they died of colds, etc. The
women were the economic base and the only ones allowed
to learn to swim and thus the culture died out. The
Indians lived all their lives on the water in hollowed
out canoes. Children were born and lived and died in
the canoes. The fathers carried the babies umbilical
chord around their necks for one year to bring the
baby luck. Their only spirits were evil. The spirit
of the glaciers and noise was the worst so being quiet
was very important. They believed in two
forces--Chaos and Harmony. The evil spirits caused
chaos if they were awakened. They had ways of making
different color smoke from the perpetually burning
fires in their canoes. They sent out different
colored smoke if they came across a beached whale or
some other food so that others, if they were in the
area, could share in the bounty. They only went to
shore to pair up the young people at about 12--each
new couple would then make a boat and go off as a new
family. There were no permanent settlements at all.
They carried fire at all times in the canoe on a bed
of sand and stone. They never let the fire go out.
Sea Lions provided all their material needs-like
clothes, tools, etc. They carried dogs on their
canoes and fed the shellfish first to the dogs to test
if it was poisoned by red tide (very prominent here
because of the strong rays of the sun due to the lack
of an ozone layer). Just think-they lasted 7,000
years in one of the harshest climates on Earth and
flouished till life got too easy (about
1940)--amazing. The village today where they live is
all built on stilts and there is a wooden sidewalk
also built on stilts as the land is all marsh and
The trip on the ship was fabulous. We had great
weather and saw it all. Mountains, waterfalls by the
hundreds, glaciers,and on and on. There was one very
rough part where the ship actually goes to open ocean.
It is called the Gulf of Sorrows. It lasts about 18
hours. There were about 100 backpackers, etc. on the
boat and that night there were only 18 left
functioning. Everyone took Dramamine but it was just
too much. I guess I´ll never get motion sickness.
Brad and I were 2 of the 18 left standing.
One of the most amazing things here is the hole in the
Ozone. Its awfully weird. The temperature drops at
least 20 degrees when a cloud goes over. The sun is
intolerably hot even here in the far South. The rays
are unbearably bright. I was out in it for about 10
minutes and my nose is burned. Its merciless--but for
the most part there are high clouds although they say
the rays come thru just the same.
This region is called Patagonia because the Indians
wrapped their feet in layers of skins and so they made
big footprints so the Spanish called this the land of
the people with big feet.
We passed an old shipwreck perched on a mt. peak.
sticking out of the water. The captain of the ship
was supposed to deliver a sugar cargo and instead sold
the sugar in Montevideo and planned to keep all the
money himself and scuttle the ship so no one would
know--Well he misjudged and when he told his story of
the lost ship--they came to investigate and there it
was stuck on the submerged peak and he was busted red
handed and went to prison for three years. This
happened around 40 years ago and the ship is still
stuck out there and is completely visible.
Our ship had its own very spoiled cute little puppy.
Tomorrow "Torres del Paine". Truely this is as
wonderful as anything could possibly be. I can´t
imagine there could ever be so much
endless-spectacular scenery and wilderness.

posted by - 4:28 PM


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