¡Hola a todos!
We are writing from the so-so town of Temuco, in central Chile. It’s been awhile since our last update, so I’ll fill everyone in on some of the details of what we’ve been up. Tyler might write later in a more interesting manner if he feels like it.
But first, for those interested, pictures can be found HERE.
Puerto Montt was the first town we went to from Punta Arenas. The bus ride was shorter than we were told – a pleasant surprise when it lasted only about 31 hours or so. It was also a pleasantly quiet and clean bus ride; no noisy obnoxious tourists this time! The disappointing thing was that they took a route through Argentina, which meant more border crossings using more pages in our passports, and driving through a lot of scenery we had already seen. But, we got to spend the last of our Argentine monedas (coins) that we couldn’t exchange in Chile at one of the stops. (Until, of course, Tyler found a bunch of Argentine pesos in his clothes when we did laundry in Chile). And, we still got to see some new scenery!
In Puerto Montt we hopped off the bus, got a list of accommodations and a map, got pointed in the ride direction, and ended up in one of the best and most affordable places we’ve found yet. Plus they had a cat, and there were baby kittens at the little kiosco on the street. We ended up getting a sort of accidental deal on a private room, with a good breakfast, wifi that worked in our room, and really friendly people running the place. We went off in search that day of seafood empanadas after I saw a Chilean family making some at the hostel we were stuck at in Punta Arenas. Once again we were pointed in the right direction, found a little place, and they told us there were no empanadas. We were sad. All made sad faces. Then she offered to make empanadas for us if we waited. And it was awesome – we made conversation with the folks in the shop, watched some soccer, and finally got to have some great, fresh made empanadas, filled with delicious mussels and green onions.
We spent the next day traipsing around town trying to make our next plans. We decided to do just one side trip in the area (our original plan was to do none and save money, but it was too beautiful to resist). We were recommended to go to the island of Chiloé; transportation there seemed the easiest, so we bought our tickets to leave the next day. In the meantime, we made a goal to try every street food available in the town – two varieties of crazy hot dogs, giant gumdrops, chocolate, mote (a very strange beverage of sugary juice, grains, and a pickled plum), stick meat, and corn-cake things with wonderfully spicy salsa (perhaps called sopadillas but I’m not sure). Then we meandered over the fish market, where we had actually tried to go the first day but didn’t make it as it was really cold and raining. This day was sunny and nice, so we found the place – it was no Pike’s Place but it was pretty neat. Plus they have lots of razor clams around apparently. But, we ate dinner near the market the same night and it was suuuuper disappointing. Oh well. I did get to see four kittens in one day, and hold two of them so…
Next stop was Chiloé, a beautiful nearby island. The best story of this side-trip was when we got off the bus in Chonchi, a tiny town in the center of the island. We get off the bus, go to the tourist information booth, and they tell us there’s four places to stay in town, and our very upfront with which one is the cheapest. We go there, it’s a family home, and get a great room with a view, for only slightly more than we paid in Puerto Montt (no breakfast though). As soon as we get there, Tyler realizes he left his shorts and towel on the bus. They were damp so he had taken them out of his backpack and put them in the overhead storage on the bus and left them there. It was our only towel. We had just bought those pants in December – they’re the fancy outdoor kind that wick and zip off into shorts. We were upset, and to try to think of something to do, I said, well, why not just ask the bus company? It couldn’t hurt. The same buses probably run through here every day. We didn’t have much hope, but sure enough, we went to the bus office, the guy called the driver on the bus, they found our stuff, and said it’d be back by 7:30 that same night. Craziness; and, it worked! We came back, and they had transferred his clothes to a different bus and brought back to us, all, for free! Latin America isn’t really known for its customer service, but I really think that beats any lost luggage treatment you’d get in the U.S.
So, we got Tyler’s stuff back, we were in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere with almost no tourists, had a great room…all was well. We decided to go camp on the beach at the national park the next day, another thing we were recommended to do from the tourist office in Puerto Montt. Our hospedaje agreed to store our extra luggage until we came back. We take the bus to the “national park” thinking it’s a 6 hour walk from there, as indicated on the map. We go the national park, and mention we’re trying
to go camping at Cole Cole. He then gives us a strange look, gives us our money back, and then says we h
ave to take the bus further up, and then walk on the beach to the park, then pay the entrance fee, and then pay to camp. We didn’t have enough money for all that, and there certainly wasn’t a
n ATM nearby. So, we start walking down the road. We hope to get picked up by someone, but so does everyone else and every truck that passes us is full. So we walk to the end of the paved road, to a gravel road. We keep walking, and I see a path through a field to the beach. Why not just look for a place to camp on the beach? Isn’t that all we wanted anyway? If we conserve the water we have, we should be fine. And, it turned out to be the best place we’ve stayed yet – we
found a great campsite (probably a fisherman’s), right on the water, walked up to the national park where we could have camped, and enjoyed a great, people-free day. Fantastic. The only slightly bad part was that it started drizzling the next day so we had to pack out early with damp things, but, all was dried off back in Chonchi in our same great room. Good times to be able to relax on our own for a bit, and it ended up saving us quite a bit of money.
This is my least favorite place I’ve been to so far. We wanted to stop somewhere to break up the 15-18 hour bus ride from Chonchi to Santiago. Central Chile is supposed to be beautiful, so why not stop over and spend a day somewhere a little less touristy. We were recommended to go to Valdivia or Temuco. Temuco was further north, so we bought tickets to go there. We arrived at about 9 p.m. last night. I don’t really like arriving at night, not only is it dark and potentially less safe, most lodgings are getting full or are full by then. But, we had no other choice, except to continue directly on to Santiago – there were buses that apparently left as late as 12:30. But we were tired, and hungry, so we looked for a place to stay. There was no information place. There were 3 hospedajes nearby. We were all told to go the bigger one. It was a crap-hole. And it was more expensive than anything else we’ve ever paid in Chile. For a dirty shared bathroom, no wifi, and no breakfast. I looked doubtful and the lady started going on and on about how all the other places were full and this was all that was left. Not a good sign. But we took it and went out to find food and our tickets to Santiago. I hated this place. Hated. The people there were loud and drinking, and it seemed like the kind of place you’d find strung out heroine addicts in. Maybe that’s because we just stayed on the beach. So we go back to the bus station and find out there’s 2 spots left on a bus that night to Santiago. I think sleeping a crappy bus is better than staying at this place, so we go back to try to leave. We well the lady we’re really sorry, but we just found a bus that leaves tonight and we want our money back so we can go. Its literally been 10 minutes, at the most, since we paid. She tries to tell us there’s no room on any buses going back to today. Lies! We just asked and found them. I tell her that. She says if we paid, we paid, we can’t get our money back. I point out its been minutes, and there’s buses full of people coming in every 5 minutes (true) – she’ll find someone to take our place. She says she had to turn away a group of 5 people while we gone because we had already taken the room. Lies. More lies. And I knew she was lying, but there was nothing we could do about it. We asked again, said we were sorry, asked why she was being so serious. All to no avail. So we go to our room – and the place is, at most, half-full. My ass there’s no more room. And, two guys came in after us – two guys that could have taken OUR ROOM! Impressive that she’d let people that are obviously pissed at her stay in her place. She’s lucky we didn’t trash it (peanut butter and jelly on blankets did cross our minds…). But, I managed to calm down, watch a movie, get lots and lots of sleep, talked to a nice Canadian family staying at the place, and got the heck out.
We leave for Santiago tonight at 10:30, which will get us into town at about 7 a.m. Not the best situation, but sleeping on the bus saves us some money, and we’ll have all day to find a place to stay! Until then we have about 7 hours to kill in the city, which, is mostly just uninteresting. I mean really uninteresting, as in, I don’t know why people would come here. But, we found a restaurant with wifi, I ate a turkey sandwich with avocado, something I’ve been missing – a poultry sandwich option instead of beef or ham – we’re about to get ice cream, and we’re about to wear out our welcome here I think. So, with that, I sign off. Next time from the Santiago area!