Puerto Natales Chile
Punta Arenas Chile
Puerto Williams Chile
Buenos Aires Argentina
Puerto Iguazu Argentina
Ciudad Bolivar Venezuela
Puerto Ordaz Venezuela
Cayenne French Guiana
Pointa A Pitre Guadaloupe
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Greetings from Puerto Natales Chile
To see a little more of this part of the country I decided to run over to Puerto Natales, about 100km to the northwest of Punta Arenas in the southernmost part of Chile. The bus getting here traveled along the shoreline much of the way with the sea on the right. It is so windy the otherwise calm surface of the water shows white caps and the bus rocks with the buffeting gusts. We pass miles and miles of open range with not a telephone pole or fence in sight. A large flock of pink flamingos had adopted one of the lakes we passed as their resting place.
Discovering all of the better hotels fully booked I settled on two just adequate hostels for the first three nights in Puerto Natales. Finally, a room became available in the beautiful $160 Hotel CostAustralis and I spent my last five nights there. Some hard bargaining and I managed to get a special $100 rate for a king size bed. My room faces the Fiordo Ultima Esperanza or Last Hope Bay. Puerto Natales is so small most maps ignore it, but it is not far from Punta Arenas which is on most maps. The Hotel CostAustralis is a four star lodge in a one star village, a delightful combination. Most of the people coming and going are here for camping and trekking. Many of the rugged young people I see on the streets are so over loaded with bulging backpacks full of survival gear you have to wonder how they can manage it all. One hears a lot of German spoken as well as smatterings of French, Italian, Portuguese, English and Spanish, of course. This is truly an international destination for people who love the outdoors.
The weather is bizarre. For three days the icy cold wind blew so hard it nearly knocked me down.... and did knock my floppy hat off several times. Last Thursday the high winds canceled boat and airline departures in southern Chile. A whole boatload of passengers waiting for the ferry to Puerto Montt were stranded by the cancellation of a scheduled departure. I witnessed a good deal of hand wringing and teeth gnashing by people who had connecting flights out of Puerto Montt at the other end. The besieged ferry personnel could do nothing with the weather just too rough for the boat. In between the gale force winds it drizzled. For the past two days it is springtime; warm temperatures, bright sunshine and clouds over the snow capped mountains in the distance.
prolifically in the cracks of sidewalks here, though I never see anyone
drinking tea made from the blossoms. Wood frame buildings are sometimes
actually steel frame buildings and almost always with exteriors clad in
corrugated iron or aluminum. If you need repairs made to your home in this
part of the world, you call a tin smith, not a carpenter!
"Yes definitely, but we had no difficulty flying in through Nassau. The Cubans don't stamp your passport and the immigration people in Nassau didn't seem to care, either."
"What did you see? Would you recommend it to other Americans?" I continued.
"Everything's pretty run down in the areas we visited... a lot of old cars sitting around, but the rum was great and one of the guys with me liked the cigars!" he added with a smirk.
9-10 February 2006 Punta Arenas
Thinking I would try ground transportation over to Ushuaia, I returned to Punta Arenas to cut four hours from the longer circuitous bus route out of Puerto Natales. Even from the closer departure point the trip still takes 13 hours. So I'll either break it into two segments... or possibly fly. Time will tell; serendipity will decide. Stay tuned.
Fred L Bellomy