After lunch, and watching a presentation on the flora in this region, we disembarked onto Wulaia Bay; Sunday afternoon, Nov 20, 2011.
It is here that English captain Fitz Roy and Charles Darwin made contact with the Yaghan (also know as Yagán, Yamana or Yámana) aborigines in the 19th century. The aborigines wore no clothes whatsoever which is startling as even though the weather is better than I expected, we still have many layers on and it is late Spring/early Summer so I can only imagine what the winters are like!
The bay was beautiful! There were several different excursions options offered and Leslie and I opted for the climb to the top of the island. There was also an option for a handful of passengers to go kayaking which sounded like fun but we had no idea how the sea would be and the risk sounded a bit scary! A few people did go, though, and the sea was once again very calm and they had a great time!
On the island we came across a lot of different plants, including some parasite fungi that grow on some of the trees here. Certain fungi like the “False Mistletoe” can harm the tree, others such as the “Indian Bread” do not. Also some tiny red berries (Chaura, or Empetrum Rubrum) that look like apples which we were able to taste, nothing exciting about the flavor. Also there was the calafate plant (a shrub) that has a tiny yellow flower which is visible this time of year and the plant also bears a dark fruit that the Argentines enjoy.
The legend of the calafate plant is that there was once a Romeo & Juliette type romance between two tribes, and when it was discovered, the girl was sentenced to death (don’t know why it fell on her!). The boy was devastated and went to the shaman (a person with presumed connection to the spiritual world) and pleaded with him for help. The shaman said that the only thing he could do would be to transform the girl into something the boy could visit every year. Such was born the calafate bush which has a yellow flower (as she had fair hair) and dark fruit (as she had dark eyes). It is also said that if you eat the fruit you will return to Patagonia.
Beavers have also made their way to Wulaia Bay and we witnessed a lot of the damage they have caused and visited both an abandoned dam and an active dam. At the active dam we saw about three beavers in the water. I got a fairly decent picture of one of them which is in the attached slideshow.
We ended the trip with a choice of beverage (whisky, hot chocolate, mulled wine), donned the life jackets that we had left on the beach, and headed back to the boat.
At dinner, the group started to liven up a bit as we all started to get to know each other, which was good!
Afterwards we headed up to the bar-lounge to watch an “international fashion show” which consisted of several passengers flaunting some of the clothing available for purchase in the shop! We then played Bingo which was quite entertaining considering the language issues (i.e. how the letters B, I, N, G, O are pronounced differently depending on what language you speak). Leslie won one of the games and received a tiny stuffed penguin!
During the course of the evening Leslie and I also asked the barman for some Pisco Sours which are a hugely popular cocktail in South America, somewhat akin to a Margarita or a Caipirinha. They were served in a champagne flute. One of the Italian women happened by at this time asking for a prosecco and the barman didn’t know what that was so she explained it was like champagne and she saw our flutes and asked him what we were drinking (I guess she assumed it was prosecco/champagne). He explained to here that we were having Pisco Sours so she figured she would try one and by the end of the trip she had all the Italians drinking Piscos and most of the other passengers had caught on to them by then, too!