Chile Day 3: My First Glacier, A Memorable Event


I often say to people who have never been to Italy that I envy them. The glory of seeing Florence for the first time while standing on a bridge overlooking the Arno, or that first climb to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo. Or the when you first walk the streets of Rome or see Venice from a Vaporetto, or Capri from a boat, or Sicily from a ferry or Sardinia through an airplane window. How exhilarating that feeling is or at least it was to me. It has always given me the same feeling as when you fall in love. Seeing a piece of a glacier in the water in Patagonia gave me a similar thrill. Your breath catches and then slows down and you let out that long exhale and break into a smile. Who knew glaciers were blue and that they would be so moving? I didn’t. Not just sort of blue but a deep blue.


We had a lecture on the boat about why some glaciers are blue and some are not. It seems that glacial ice can be a deep blue color because of the various mutations of sunlight as it penetrates the ice. As we know, white light is really a rainbow of colors with different amounts of energy. Blue has more energy than the other colors of the rainbow and thus can penetrate the thick ice while some of the other colors cannot. Other glaciers are dirty looking because solid materials and rocks get trapped in the layers of ice.


I hope you can see the different variations of the color of the water. The water closer to the glacier is a very pale gray while the rest of the water is a lighter shade of blue-green. The glacier in the photo is called the Amalia glacier and is located in the southern ice fields in Patagonia. It is approximately one kilometer wide and 40 meters high. There are 48 glaciers in this area which is also the third largest reserve of fresh water in the world. For more information on the ice field, check out the Navimag website.


This complete rainbow appeared as I drank my first Carmenere of the trip, Chile’s signature grape variety, and toasted the glacier with friends. The wine was nothing to write home about but the glacier certainly was unforgettable.

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