February 29, 2008
Odd day of an odd year in odd sort of place.

Odd day of an odd year in odd sort of place indeed. So I am wandering around Patagonia for the last week getting strange looks because the size and obvious weight of my backpack just does not match up with the chinelas on my feet, but as it turns out I may have the biggest feet in all of Patagonia, a place literally named after big feet (maybe). I am a European size 47, and folks who do the ordering for retail establishments in these parts tend to stop at 45. Oh well, I have met some interesting people along the way. This is Walter, owner of a neat little jam producing chacra where I stopped to have a look around and ended up sitting at the kitchen table chewing the fat all afternoon. The instrument in front of him on the table is some sort of spectroscope thingy that allows him to smear a swath of jam onto a slide and then look through the lens and see what the sugar content is throughout the cooking down process. Pretty cool. He kept checking the contents of one of the vats as we sat and talked, and sure enough it eventually hit the right level and his employees started canning it. Walter has been in the jam business all his life (aside from a short stint working for the government in the city while he was in college, during which time he was a sort of licensing and health inspector for prostitutes, hmmm...) and knows quite a lot about it (the jam business that is). It was a neat afternoon. By and by I kept looking and during one of my stops photographed this statue which I think is really cool. Just thought I would share that with you. Then finally I found this four leafed clover (the second one in my entire life) and soon after found these boots. The boots were ludicrously expensive, but they seem to do the job. We'll see after a few days. They have to be better than the chinelas though, and I really didn't have much choice because my back was about to go out. One odd note: the day after I left Parque National Los Alerces someone intentionally lit several fires which are now completely out of control on the southern end of the park where I was camped and have likely destroyed much of what I saw there. I wonder if my boots made it out intact. Back in Chile now, and I am headed north again I think chasing rumors of huge brook trout.  Will update when I can.  Everyone be good up there...