A cave, a 10,000 year old sloth and a rodeo.

Out of the back window of Mog I can see round thirty-two of a Chilean rodeo in progress! Unfortunately I can also hear the over-amplified, shouted commentary that has been at "world-cup-winning-goal-in-extra-time" pitch, without a break, for three hours. One can only take so much excitement.

We (K-Nine, Mel and Mog) are all parked at Cerro Castillo (S51.255015 W72.344318) between Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine National Park. Mel and Mog are going into the park, K-Nine is on the way out.

Since returning from Antarctica, Mel and Mog have re-traced our route to the short ferry at Puerto Espora and then headed for Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales.

Whilst we were in Antarctica, K-Nine tried to take the shorter route via the longer ferry at Porvenir. En-route they had a little problem with a lot of mud (more details to follow) and potential problem with a rough ferry crossing. in the end they ended up back at the Puerto Espora ferry.

Fans of the iconic book In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin will already be familiar with the prehistoric sloth from the Cueva del Milodon. Those who have read Lonely Planet's guide to Chile will know of the "tacky plastic life-sized replica" to be found in the cave.

In spite of Lonely Planet's lukewarm enthusiasm for the Cueva del Milodon we rather enjoyed it. The cave (above) is impressive, even without the remains of a 10,000 year old 4 metre tall sloth. For scale, that is Judy at the end of the arrow.

Agreed the "life-sized" Milodon is not a great work of art, but neither is it made of plastic, and it is only a little tacky.

In Punta Arenas we picked up a tourist paper that said "the Jineteada season has arrived". "The Jineteada is a long standing gaucho tradition, where gauchos demonstrate their wild horse riding skills". The paper went on to say the best place to see a Jineteada was Cerro Castillo on the 14th of January. So we came.

Whilst the wild horse riding is definitely very macho, the warm up events were more "pony-club meets village fête".

The first event (above) may look like "One man and his dog" but it is much more serious than that. Just ask the parents. It is the "sheep rodeo" where children aged five to eight try to ride a ram for fifteen seconds. There is clearly a lot at stake here.

The second event, also for children, was catch the pig. They did, in the end.

The main event was the final of the rodeo.

The first few rides were exciting but after that, without any knowledge of the contestants or any understanding of the hysterical commentary, we were eventually driven back to our vans to watch the last two hours thru the windscreen with a glass of wine.

Note that the rider is wearing a French-style beret, often seen on gauchos in Chile and Argentina accompanied by a patterned poncho for warmth.

Stephen Stewart.

Home - This page last changed on 2007-01-14
This page contains the latitude and longitude (from GPS using WGS84 Datum) of places of interest.