New adventures afoot...

New adventures afoot...
where in the world...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On the road again, southern style.

Its amazing how some places in the world can remind you of others... Crossing the pampa of southern Chile north of Punta Arenas I swear I could be somewhere outside of Valentine on the way to Van Horn... Except for that lake in the distance, the sheep in the pastures instead of cattle, and the bandurrias (Ibis) flying overhead... oh, and the rheas.

Had a fantastic last few days at the bottom of the continent, spent some time in the very quiet and cozy town of Puerto Williams

where I met several interesting people including a fellow Texan who had come all the way down to the bottom of the world to find some worthy cause to donate all his money to when he dies, plus a cadre of scientists at a field station associated with the Univ of North Texas of all places, one of whom (an Argentine) a was excited to show me photos of his visit to Big Bend last year! The focus of the station is ecological research but in conjunction with a philosophical inquiry into human relationship with the land and challenging our fundamental historic approaches to research... Exciting territory and I'm impressed and surprised that such a non- traditional approach is coming from a Texan institution... Whoop whoop!

 Had a fantastic dinner at the Puerto Williams yacht club which is an old military-turned-transport ship-turned-dock/restaurant/bar with an amazingly beautiful wood interior and flags and mementos of all sorts covering the walls, commemorating the many journeys begun or finished there... Trans-globe, rounding the Horn, Antarctica and back... a setting bristling with latent energy and amazing tales at every turn, but yet where anyone would feel welcomed by the soft glow of the fire off the well worn wood paneling and floors... Wish I'd had my camera for the inside!

Next day hiked around in the UNESCO Biosphere reserve (who knew? and trivia#2, it's the first protected area to become so based on the merits of its moss and lichen flora!),

found a stray dog who was super cute and sweet and more than happy to follow me on my hike and come back to town (looked like it had just recently gotten separated from its owners, though there is a big problem with stray/abandoned-turned-wild dogs in the region) and then once back in the village he cruised up one street as I cruised along towards my hostal.

Had just enough time to say Ciao! to my lovely hostess before heading off to catch the ferry to Punta Arenas...

where I met even more interesting folks including a man who is developing software that calculates the rates of glacier movement via photography, a tourism student who worked on a project to determine the social impact of placing damn on the remote Baker River (we had a great conversation about how natural resource dependent Chile is and what will happen when/if the cooper plays out in the north or if a problem develops with supplying water from the wet south to the dry north for said mining... Already pipelines are being considered... Same problems the world over...), and a lovely gentleman from Rio Grande (a city just "around the corner" from Ushuaia) who was as keen to stand in the blustery wind appreciating the scenery and chatting about life and travel as I was.

I had my faithful Nissan thermomug with me for tea and upon asking if there was any hot water to be had I was invited below decks to the kitchen where the chef put on the kettle and invited me back any time, which I proceeded to take advantage of and ended up making friends with half the crew it seemed. The ferry trip itself was great--

 fantastic to be on the water again and using my Antarctic-gained wildlife skills to identify what we were seeing (black-browed albatross, cormorants, Magellanic penguins, giant petrels, and sea lions) for myself and some interested passengers. The sea lions in particular were really neat, porpoising as they swam the channel just as penguins do which was thoroughly unexpected... In fact at first glance I thought "dolphin" except then I realized there was no dorsal fin... Hard to beat dead calm water turned silvery rose by the sunrise with sea lions jumping and surfing the waves of the ferry's wake...

Then off the ferry at midnight and since I had failed to realize the arrival hour  accepted a very kind offer to share a hostal room with a fellow passenger and then proceeded to spend two lovely days inPunta Arenas, 

taking advantage of a couple of very fine cafés, especially the hidden gem of the Shackleton Bar in the Braun mansion... Soft dark leather, rustic mosaic marble tables, the right shades of brown, mustard, rose, and sunlight through the floor to ceiling windows... And only three bucks for real Twinings tea and wifi!  Life's small pleasures.

And now to Puerto Natales, to a B&B hostel (Google 4Elements) run by a friend of a friend, where the main goal is 'deep recycling', where nothing goes to a landfill and everything is reused or compacted and recycled. Pretty stoked to check it out and start planning the next phase of the trip, hiking in Torres del Paine.

Well! This is what happens when I have a gadget on a three hour bus ride! Until the next time... xoxo :) jos


  1. Yay! More news from Jos!

    Great fun to hear about Puenta Arenas - I'm going to need to stash that away in my head for when I'm there in August. Still seems like such a long time from now....

  2. Yay Pablo! I ran into a friend/co-worker of yours on my ship... but don't have his name at hand, but it was a little unusual... anyway was a great connection to make! I'm excited for you and your next adventure... tell me how it is-- I've thought for a long time about trying to get into the USAP marine world... just one more think to think about. Bug hugs to you-- :)