In Jan/Feb I spent two weeks back in Bariloche with Esteban and Beatriz and their lab. As usual it was quite a nice trip, made nicer by the fact the volcano had stopped, the air was clear, the lakes were free of ash, and the airport was open! Below is a view of the glacial arm of Lake Mascardi, where the suspended glacial powder shades the water column, lowers the seston C:P ratio, and makes life better for Daphnia! (according to the beautiful research of Cecilia Laspoumaderes)
(Here’s the last set of pics and narrative from our long trip to Salta.)
Following our big trip up to Socompa we headed back to Salta, following the same incredible road. We were able to stop in the “Colorado” area and took some amazing pictures. Along the way we saw more vicuna and then some (likely domesticated) llamas. In the pictures you will see an ironic one depicting the “shrine” for Pachimama (goddess of safe travel in the puna) with the pick-up truck in the background getting its flat tire changed. Back in Salta we spent two more nights at the La Selva Lodge in San Lorenzo to clean the dust off ourselves (and the final ticks?) and a little birdwatching. Then we moved to a hotel in the city center and enjoyed Salta’s colorful churches (one of which contains a sign admonishing visitors NOT to use holy water for witchcraft) and a visit to a museum in the former home of Pajarito Velarde (one of Salta’s most famous and flashier citizens and author of various well-known salsas and tangos). The highlight of the trip was a visit to the ‘High Altitude Anthropology Museum’ which displayed one of the mummified Inca children that was found at >20,000 feet on one of the volcanoes we had passed by two days earlier. But no pictures were allowed. We also had a fun evening at a “peña”, sort of a dinner theater with Argentinian folk music and dancing (I got a chance to don a gaucho hat and join in) . We then flew to Mendoza and boarded the overnight bus back to Bariloche. Full pics HERE.
Some consider Bariloche to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Here’s a picture to support that claim. The wind was blowing all the Puyehue ash in a different direction and so the day was PERFECT. The shot is taken from the top of Cerro Llao Llao, looking southwest. This nice hike is about a 20 min drive from our house.
Our first days in Argentina were a fiesta of animals – the mammals of coastal Patagonia. Now that we are here in Bariloche we need to learn the plants, esp. the ones that make up the incredible Andean forests. This was clear on a short walk we made nearby, at a place called Llao Llao. In the pictures you’ll see some cool stuff. First, the massive beech trees (Nothofagus dombeyi), known as coihue, with the characteristic horizontal foliage display that instantly says “southern hemisphere” (at higher elevations, the deciduous beech, Nothofagus pumilio, known as lenga, can be found). Second, a native bamboo (Chusquea coleou), known as caña coihue, is the brown stuff in the understory. It is now having a massive die-off after a big flowering last year. Hordes of mice and rats are expected this summer in response to the seed supply. Finally, there are the amazing arrayanes (Luma apiculata, a member of the myrtle family). The locals claim (dubiously) that a forest of arrayanes inspired Walt Disney when he created the forest seen in Bambi. Who knows, it’s cool anyway. Full set of pics HERE.
This weekend we plan a trip a bit north, towards Lanin National Park, to see the famous “monkey puzzle tree”, or araucaria.
The lake was like a mirror!
It is really windy in Patagonia, Bariloche no exception. So, when the wind drops it’s a chance to get out a sample on the big lake, Nahuel Huapi. So, that’s what we did yesterday, getting samples to check the levels of suspended ash in the water, measuring lake temperature profiles (6.7 C, and well mixed to bottom at 50m), and light penetration (probably 2-3 times less than “normal”, before the eruption). We also took a few zooplankton net tows and found a few lonely cyclopoid copepods but were a bit surprised to see a pretty thick collection of a filamentous diatom (Aulacoseira?), unusual for the lake apparently. Video HERE.