Punta Arenas

Exotic and mysterious, the lower third of Chili and Argentina are known as the Patagonian region.  Despite the current day connotation of the term, it actually originated when the first explorers named the area after the indigenous tribes who were a foot or more taller than the men discovering them.  With proportionately larger feet, that were wrapped in animal skins, their foot impressions were large.  So the term Patagonia actually means "land of the big feet".

Our ship docked near the bottom of South America, and we headed out by a 2-hour ferry ride to Magdalena Island, through the Straits of Magellan, named after the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, who discovered Puerto Arenas in 1520.  Destination of our ride was Los Pinguinos National Park, home to one of the largest colonies for nesting and breeding Magellan penguins.  Less demonstrative than the other penguins we've seen, most of the penguins were sleeping or guarding their burrows.  Skuas, a predatory bird about the size of a seagull, use pirate-like maneuvers to lure the penguins away from  their nests to steal their eggs or their young.  

After riding back into town, we had a little time to explore the local market.  Artisans of the area are known for their alpaca sweaters, hard-wood carvings and lapis lazuli jewelry, a deep blue semi-precious stone found in Afghanistan and the Andes in Chili.  We were also able to partake in a some king crab, some of the best scallops ever, and the Chilean favorite drink, the Pisco Sour, before heading back to the ship.  

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