We got up before the alarm, for no good reason. It was a decent sunrise, about as good as we'd seen this trip. At breakfast, we said goodbyes to several of the people. We saw Chino as we were getting ready to leave, and told him how good a guide he was. We also said goodbye to Rosario, the head of the hotel, who's been there forever. We had a great time, and aren't sure if we'll be back, as we've "accomplished" everything we wanted to. We left about 8:30. The weather was pretty good, and finally got some good views of the massif from the east, albeit through the car window. Lago Sarmiento was a nice blue color again. The drive to the border was boring, and Crystal fell asleep. Justin took the opportunity to speak with Roger and Donna. Roger used to be a principal at La Jolla Country Day high school in San Diego, and Donna is a family lawyer. They live in Santa Monica now.

Once again, the border was a bit of a pain, but at least we didn't have to take out our bags this time. The "Border Collie" was back, seeking attention from everyone waiting in line. We had a long-ish wait, about 30-45 minutes, to get our paperwork taken care of. Justin had one of his podcasts finally download the night before (after several nights of no luck), so that helped pass the time. We both slept between the border and the Estancia in Esperanza, Chali Aike. Once at the estancia, we grabbed lunch first. There was one other group there, a Travesia headed the other way. If not for Explora being full over New Years, we would've been with the other couple, as that was our first choice, to go to El Chalten first. The lamb empanadas were fantastic, some of the best empanadas we've ever had. Following the empanadas we had a ginormous sizzling platter of cordero. When we were completely full, and about 2/3 of the way through the platter, they brought out another one. Dessert, we suppose.

After lunch, we went outside, and the proprietor (Gonzalo) told us about the history of his family coming over to Argentina, and the Estancia. The history was pretty interesting, particularly the part where they couldn't get sheep shipped from Buenos Aires to Esperanza, so they herded 2000 of the sheep all the way from Buenos Aires to the estancia. There are now 4000 sheep at the estancia, and they sell high quality wool. Gonzalo mentioned he has 15 employees, who never complain about wages or overtime - all "actual" border collies. Luna is 8 years old, and seemed to be the head dog. Gonzalo did a demonstration of herding, on about 5-6 sheep, which was very impressive. Just by whistling in a particular cadence, the dog knew exactly which direction to go, and how fast to go. Seemingly the sheep knew what the whistle meant as well, as often times they moved almost simultaneously with Luna. After the demonstration, we went to the shearing area. We got to get our picture taken with the "before" sheep. Apparently to keep the sheep still, the best way is in a sitting position. We never would have guessed. It took about 5 minutes to sheer the sheep, fairly leisurely. Gonzalo told us the record was over 700 sheep sheared in 9 hours, by some Australian. That does not seem leisurely; that seems insane.

We got back on the road about 14:00, and in La Esperanza we caught a quick glimpse of the puppies again. Crystal listened to podcasts, and Justin got some sleep, on the way to El Calafate. We took a short stop at a lookout on the north side of Lago Argentina, across from the airport. We took another stop at Hotel La Leona, where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid stayed for a month or so after leaving the USA and robbing a bank in Argentina. After people figured out who they were, they took off again, heading north, before eventually being killed in Bolivia. There was some good memorabilia at the little shop in La Leona, and we grabbed some coffee (and Justin a drink) at the shop.

We got to El Chalten around 19:30. It was a very small town, with everything close together, albeit not super organized. After getting situated, and seeing Carrie Fisher died, we grabbed dinner at Don Arguello at 20:30. It was interesting to have a "full" menu to choose from after so many days of just five items. Justin got a bacon wrapped filet, Crystal got a hamburger, but our driver Arturo made the best choice, the Bife Don Arguello. We chatted about plans for the next day, and the paper maps that were the place settings came in handy for this. The weather was supposed to be good, so Nicholas recommended Laguna de Los Tres for the two of us. He recommended that Roger and Donna do our trail except for the last bit straight up the side of the mountain. We got back to room a little after 22:00, and crashed almost immediately.

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