It is nap time and everything is calmness in the city of glaciers. A 4 x 4 vehicle leads us uphill along a winding road. We are heading for el Balcón de El Calafate, where we are promised an unforgettable view. We leave civilization behind and drive across a land hardly ever crossed by motor vehicles. Without hesitation, the guide activates the double drive of the sports car to get to the top of Mount Huyliche. Slowly but steadily, we went on towards the West, going up along what used to be a glacier and sea bed. We feel somewhat uneasy in the presence of rocks spread all through the area. “They are erratic blocks and sedimentary formations of more than 80 million years of age” explains the driver. As we climb, the panoramic view is enlarged and smartly catches our attention.
We get to understand the size of Lake Argentino, including the Northern and Southern arms. The off-road vehicle rides on cross-country. The Patagonian wind plays its tricks and seems to comb the steppe towards only one side. I ask the driver to stop. I cannot resist the temptation of walking across that fidgety sea of thorny pastures. We soon reach the balcony itself. We turn off the engine and get down to the inhospitable scenery. From there, the source of the Perito Moreno Glacier and the peaks of Mounts Chaltén -3,375 m high- and Torre – 3,128 m- can be seen. On the right, we find the Santa Cruz River, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean, after crossing more than 300 kilometers. Downhill, the city of El Calafate looks like a model. The movement of its cars and the people resemble a movie played in slow motion. A dark spot in the vastness of the clear sky gets bigger and bigger. It turns around us with its wings spread open. We step on the silhouette of its shade stamped on the ground of the desolate landscape. It hovers boldly in the empty firmament. It knows we are watching and that is why it flies away never to return. The wind again, unquestionable sovereign of these latitudes, forces us to get in the truck. We go back. The descent is as amusing as the ascent. We reach a 30º slope and vertigo is breathed in the atmosphere. As usual, the yearn to taste some mate is stronger than the frightening movements to which the truck was subject on the way back. Having found this new sight of the city of glaciers, I say good-bye to my trip companions. I watch them go away slowly, fleeing among the streets, getting lost like shadows in this little great city.
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