El Calafate, Stray Dogs and Gustavo [ 4 of 11 ]

When we first entered the main street (ie: the ONLY main street), it felt a little surreal. Not only was this a pretty remote place to travel to, but it was like getting dropped off at Disneyland. Tour bus after tour bus came in dropping off people at their hotels. The main reason people come into town is to see the Perito Moreno Glacier. El Calafate has the main airport to get to places like the Fitz Roy and Torres del Paine.

Nonetheless we were super excited to be in crisp clean and somewhat comfortable frigid air.

Our amazingly cute hostel.

Since it was 8pm and the sun was still fully out, we decided to take a walk out to the marsh and see Lago Argentina. It’s so blue from all the glacier water! There were about a total of 1 person out and about 20 dogs. Stray dogs are a thing in Argentina. At least down in the southern part. The dogs are almost wolf-like but 10x more friendly because they actually don’t wanna bite your face off. They literally followed us and we recruited more the more we walked.

We saw a small barn/house with a horse out front. It had a few stables and a lot of dogs around. Then coming from this barn/house was… GUSTAVO. And yes, his name warrants all caps. And holy hell does that name fit him 1,000%. He came out in the perfect cowboy-off-duty outfit and asked us what we were looking for. We told him we were looking for some cervesas and he said, “oh yeah come right in!”

Little did I know we were literally going into his house and sharing a beer with him. He showed photo books of his horses and tells us how he’s been doing horseback riding excursions for 30 years. In the back of his kitchen were some cowboy hats, of course. We naturally asked him about the fur. He said they were a coyote and a fox he killed with his own bare hands. Just kidding, but he did kill them himself and saved the skin. He even showed us his pickled hare meat in his fridge. Now I remember why I’m semi-vegetarian.

We wanted to give him so cash and so I awkwardly did this bow thing as I gave him some cash. He looked at me super strangely and said in his broken Argentinian accent, “what is that? In Argentina, we do this…” and he proceeded to hug me with one hand and brought together cheek to cheek.

It’s only been a few days but Argentina has won my heart over already.

Originally published on 12/21/15 at lizlizwanders.weebly.com.