Baby elephant seal

I missed blogging last Sunday but with good reason — John and I were traveling down to the tip of Peninsula Valdes which involved a flight to Trelew from Buenos Aires, then a three-hour drive, much of it on gravel roads through scrub brush landscape that reminded me of West Texas. We arrived at Rincon Chico in the afternoon, in time for an afternoon outing with our host/guide Augustin. During our four nights there, we walked through a huge colony of nesting penguins, sat feet away from both sea lions and elephant seals, and watched southern right whales play in the water below us. It was a treat to see these animals in such a small group setting (there were no more than six of us there at any given time). Around the estancia itself, we saw Darwin’s rheas (like an ostrich), guanacos (in the llama family), big hares, and maras (a huge rodent that looks kind of like a big rabbit). I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow, but take a look at my photos. You will see some dead baby elephant seals in the pictures – apparently this season’s baby seals are being wiped out in Argentina and in South Georgia Island due to the avian flu. It was horrible to see their little bodies littered along the beaches. We did see some that are still alive like the cute little guy above, but the effects of the flu are devastating.

Nesting penguins
Sea lions
Newly weaned elephant seal (a “weaner”)

The week before our trip we enjoyed a long weekend and a local holiday on Monday. Socially, I had a fun catch-up lunch with Jenae at Mashugana Cafe and had a couple of outings with Lea. John and I teamed up with Lydia and Cesar one night after work to compete in an embassy trivia contest – we were the “Disco Cats,” a nod to our time together in Pakistan. I finished reading “Tom Lake” and “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” and started “Wellness.”

This afternoon John and I drove up to a lovely asado at Luis and Mercedes – they are such good hosts. It was great to hear about their trip to Alaska (Luis has now been to all 50 states! Way more than me!), and we always enjoy their daughter, as well. Spring has really sprung in Buenos Aires!

Peninsula Valdes – beautiful coast!

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