I’d never heard of Puerto Madryn before this cruise. With most of South America having been settled by the Spanish, it was surprising to learn that the town was founded in 1865, by Welsh immigrants. They arrived on a clipper named Mimosa, and named the settlement in honor of Sir Love Jones-Parry, who estate in Wales was named “Madryn.” One of the beaches is named “Playa Mimosa,” in honor of the ship.
Welsh, Spanish, and Italian immigrants built the Central Chubut Railway and the town grew. Their economy today is based on aluminum processing. Five-thousand people are employed at the local plant. Oil production, fishing and tourism also contribute.
Our ship arrived bright and early at seven a.m. With All Aboard at 2:30, we didn’t have time to spare in port. We disembarked and met our tour guide, Fernando, for another tour arranged through Costco. We’ve really become spoiled having a tour guide/driver all to ourselves!
With three-hundred sixty kilometers to cover we wasted no time heading south to Peninsula Valdes. The area reminded us a great deal of the landscape in Anza Borrego Desert or Baja, California. Barren, and somewhat sandy, sparsely dotted with sage brush and dried grasses. Instead of the occasional wandering cow, the road hazard was wild guanacos (similar to a llama). Like deer, there was rarely just one crossing the road, oblivious to vehicles.
We stopped at the visitor information center for Peninsula Valdes, which housed exhibits of the local flora and fauna and interpretive signs. Next we set off on one hundred twenty kilometers of UNpaved road. The way the roads are laid out, you must be serious about wanting to view wildlife.
Along the route, in addition to a great many guanaco, we saw Merino sheep, a viper sunning in the roadway, a burrowing owl, a rider-less horse, rheas, Martineta’s (a type of partridge,) and armadillos. At various shore stops, we saw Magellanic and Gentoo penguins, baby elephant seals, and sea lions.
There was time for Fernando to tour us through a small fishing village with four-hundred inhabitants. In the summer, entrepreneurs stay busy with water activity tourism. Surprisingly winter is busy with foreign visitors arriving for whale watching season.
The ride back toward town was dotted with our questions and his answers, and, a box lunch. His English was excellent! And, we had time for a tour of the old town, as well as the up and coming area with modern high rises. Tree trunks were carved into interesting shapes.
After Happy Hour with Julianne and Brian in the Crow’s Nest, we enjoyed dinner and headed for the show.
Voce, who performed again with all new songs. Two of the vocalists sang a Judy Garland medley. One sang “All I Ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera with Matthew, one of the Prinsendam singers and dancers. Their duet was equally as good as when we heard Michael Crawford perform. The closing number, “Halleujah” received a well-deserved standing ovation.
Tonight’s quote: “Change your thoughts and you change the world.”~~ Norman Vincent Peale