January 17, 2003

Chile flagAnother travel day, this time to Punta Arenas. We got up around 8:30 am, had breakfast, packed leisurely, then checked out. Cost for three nights at Casa Azul was 42000 pesos. We walked down the hill for one more try at the craft market. This time Rosemary bought a guanaco hat (2500 pesos) and a bag with pelicans on it (1500 pesos). Still no bags with penguins, though.

We grabbed the first bus into Puerto Montt, and arrived there quite early for the 11:30 airport bus. So we went to sit at the water’s edge for a bit. No penguins today, but there were several pelicans and also a seal.

Then the usual process: bus to the airport, check in and wait. Once again we didn’t have window seats on the flight, because of the ticketing fiasco, but when we stood up and looked out we could see big brown rivers, glaciers, and lots of blue glacial lakes. And we may have seen part of Torres del Paine, too.

On arrival in Punta Arenas we took the bus into town, then set out for a walk, since the airport bus company’s terminal was the farthest one from Eduardo and Veronica’s place, Hostel Independencia. Punta Arenas is very windy but luckily the sun was shining, so it wasn’t too cold. The hostel was certainly not as fancy as Casa Azul but it seemed clean and we were only staying one night.

By this time it was after 4 pm so we stashed our bags in our room and went out. First stop was an Internet café where we e-mailed our travel agent to let her know we had arrived in Punta Arenas. Then off for a walking tour of the town. Down to the docks, through the Plaza de Armas, up to the mirador. A terrific view of the Strait of Magellan, with Tierra del Fuego behind it. Then over to the cemetery, which is full of ornately decorated family mausoleums. Along the way we stopped at a couple of outdoor stores, where Paul practised advanced Spanish by trying to buy grease for hiking boots, with no luck.

Back at the hostel we had dinner, which meant getting rid of all the food we had left. Another couple was in the kitchen and they said that this summer was one of the worst in the last few years as far as weather is concerned. Everyone they had spoken with coming from Torres del Paine had had bad weather, so here’s hoping the weather is improving!

Tomorrow is cruise day. We have to check in between 1 and 6 pm.

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