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Relax and Watch the World Go By: Chilean Patagonia

The indigenous Fuegians belonged to several tribes including the Ona, Haush, Yahgan, and Alacaluf. In this cold climate, the Yahgan wore few clothes. Their bodies were covered with grease from the sea animals they caught.

This was another day spent entirely on the ship.

We had removed our motion sickness patches from behind our ears yesterday afternoon, thinking we were now in the Beagle Channel and the Strait of Magellan. . . sheltered channels of water the lie between many small islands. However, we woke up to find the ship heaving to and fro; we had slipped out into the Pacific just west of the islands and the sea was as rough as it had been a couple days ago! On went the new patches.
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After lunch we attended a lecture on the indigenous people who once lived in this area. Of the four tribes that once inhabited this area, nearly all of them are gone since the early 1900's due to disease, changes in theirlifestyles due to over hunting of seals by Americans and Europeans, and because at one point they were hunted for bounty — much like animals. A 90 year old woman is the sole survivor of one tribe; about a dozen individuals of one other tribe still survive. Soon all of them will be gone.
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By mid-afternoon, we were moving through the islands again. The water was calming and we began cruising some beautiful sounds — Agostini, Hyatt and Serrano Sounds. The ship was surrounded by huge granite walls rising out of the water, covered with green trees and shrubs...laced with long strings of waterfalls ...capped with snow that slides down the mountain-sides as blue-tinged glaciers.
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The captain brought us into a "dead end" at the Darwin Cordillera where a matched pair of glaciers slide into the water at the end of the sound. One glacier demonstrated calving by dropping some relatively small faces of ice into the water; the cracking sounds, like huge gunshots, were quite impressive.

After spending an hour or so on deck, everyone came in to warm up and prepare for dinner. We attended a couple of orientations to update us on our itinerary for the next few days.

The evening was topped off with a "show" hosted by the crew at 10 pm; there was singing and comedy. The two of us only caught the first half hour, though. By 10:30, we were yawning and ready for bedtime.

  • Beagle Channel is a strait separating islands of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. It separates Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego from several smaller islands to the south. Its eastern portion is part of the border between Chile and Argentina, but the western part is completely within Chile. Beagle Channel is about 150 miles long and is about three miles wide at its narrowest point. To the west the Darwin Sound connects it to the Pacific Ocean.
  • The channel is named after the ship HMS Beagle which was involved in two hydrographic surveys of the coasts of the southern part of South America in the early 19th century. During the first, under the overall command of the Australian Commander Philip Parker King, the Beagle's captain Pringle Stokes committed suicide and was replaced by captain Robert FitzRoy. The second is better known as the voyage of the Beagle and is famous because captain FitzRoy took Charles Darwin along as a gentleman's companion, giving him opportunities as an amateur naturalist.

Posted by jeburns55 02:10 Archived in Chile

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