00:00 - A travelling day today. We were to go off at 9am but our bus and Manuel had some sort of mishap (rumours were of another flat tyre) and we actually set off at 10.30. This meant that we didn't get to our hotel in El Calafate until 6pm (further delay due to a broken window at the back if the minivan that kept falling off so we had to keep stopping to glue it back on). The voyage itself was pretty uneventful. We drove a couple of hours to the chilean border and made a couple of stops for pictures on the way. We had lunch at the border cafeteria and then went through to no man's land before doing customs on the argentinian side a few kilometres further on. The scenery reminded me a little bit of the bolivian altiplanos with the difference that we were not at altitude. All flat, immense, little vegetation and no people (in bolivia you did come across a few mud huts now and again). I forgot: a few guanacos here and there (of the llama family). I put my headphones on and fell asleep listening to music for about half the way. When we got to El Calafate, Manuel was very apologetic about all the misfortune his van had had both on the first day and today. We tipped him and off he went back to Puerto Natales. He does drive a pretty terrible minibus, but he does work very hard poor man!
I had time to reflect on Toby today. I have realised that it no longer matters that he's not what I would like him to be...I have come to accept that he does the mere essentials of his job (sometimes that is a stretch), and that it doesn't bug me anymore. It is what it is... A tourleader has the potential of making the difference between a trip being nice and it being great...he's never going to make that difference, but at least he's not making it terrible. I do however think he should have pointed out we'd have no electricity sockets and no telephone signal for 3 days!!! And before we got there!!! Luckily the group gets along.
The hotel is obviously an improvement on the dormitory but it is pretty old and crappy. However, it does offer laundry facilities and has internet, so I won't complain too much. After dropping off the bags Toby took us to change money and to the supermarket for tomorrow's lunch. The money exchange was closed but the supermarket took dollars so we got by without. We got about an hour of relax before dinner and I spent it sorting out the photos from the last couple of days. We met at 8 to go together to the restaurant. We were given two tables for dinner and the oldies went on one and the 40's on the other, with the exception of Lisa that mixed it with the older group. The food at the restaurant tonight was pretty great and we shared a couple of great bottles of malbec. We had a laugh. Linda decided to have a cocktail instead of wine in the middle of dinner but found her cosmopolitan a little too strong so David (her partner) ended up helping out and getting tipsy :-). We did find out something about the lineage of Toby. He's the son of the actor that played Doctor Legg in Eastenders!!! And immediately the resemblance became obvious! How funny!
We have a fairly early start tomorrow as we get picked up at 8am for our trip to the Perito Moreno Glacier. Toby's not coming but we have a guide for tomorrow :-).