Monday, March 29, 2010

Puerto Montt, Chile

Puerto Montt is the first place where a couchsurfer just told me to call him when I got in, no address or anything. Plus, again, he didn’t speak English. Hooray, more practice!

So anyways, I got into the bus terminal in Puerto Montt after a 14 hour bus ride from Santiago, at 830 am. Gave my host a ring at the phone center at the station…no answer. Great. I had all day, so I figured I’d wait a bit and try again before settling for a hostel. Second call 10 minutes later…success! I stumbled through a 5 minute call with Cristian, my couchsurfer, in which he told me to walk 5 minutes to the right out of the terminal, find the bus stop, take the #9 or #139 colectivo for 20 minutes to ‘la arena’, where he would be waiting. Needles to say, I hoped I had comprehended everything correctly when I took off from the terminal.

I made it to the bus stop. I wasn’t sure here what a colectivo was (names of transport are different EVERYWHERE), so I asked two ladies. Glad I did. I thought it would be asmall bus. Turns out, it looks exactly like a taxi, but runs a fixed route. They hailed the correct one for me and I was off. Showed the conductor where I needed to go, was there pronto, and waited 10 minutes at the arena(while hoping I was in the right place) until my couchsurfer popped up around the corner!

But he was cool, he made some coffee and a bean dish for breakfast when I showed up, gave me a key, and proceeded to clean vigorously for an hour (weird), before I decided to take off and walk around the city.

View from my room @ couchsurfers Place:

Puerto Montt is almost as I expected, a port city, in a very green & foresty area, fairly hilly but not too bad, about 200,000 people. The centro isn’t much to talk about, but they have a nice walk along the water where you can view the foresty coastline, islands, and some really old looking boats. I walked about 4 km to the port market(Angelmo), where they had an array of stalls with fresh fish. After about 30 women asked me ‘quieres almorzar joven?’ (do you want to eat lunch) and 29 no thank yous, I settled on a stall with a big boiling pot with a bunch of stewed seafood and meats, complete with seafood broth as a drink for $5. Yum. Talked to some old guy at the table across from me for 15 minutes over lunch in Spanglish, after he asked me if I wanted a glass of his Chilean wine…he spoke some English, was from Santiago, and his son lives in Tacoma, Washington…you just never know when you see someone.

My Amazing lunch that day:

Which came from this caldron of boiliing stuff:

My first boat look like this:

View from the Port:

Anyways, there are tons of volcanoes, islands, and national parks in the area. So decided I was going to go to a nearby national park on Friday, Parque Alerce Andino. The ‘minibus’ was supposed to leave at 740 from the bus terminal. My lazyass hit snooze on my alarm, woke up at 7, left at 715, and power walked 30 minutes to the terminal, nonetheless missing the bus. Crap. Next one wasn’t until noon. But no worries, backup plan was to take a bus to the island Chiloe, to the city of Ancud.

So…2 hour bus ride later (including barge, transport), I’m in Ancud, town of 30,000 people. It feels like this area/town hasn’t changed since the area was inhabited 6,000 years ago. It was foggy, drizzly, and the architecture reflected that. Definitely a fishing and handcrafts town. The houses were all wood shingled in various colors, from green to blue to yellow, really pretty unique. Since the weather sucked, I just walked around for a bit, went to the museum, learned something about the Chiloe people (as usual how the Spanish came here and when), and took a bus back after about 5 hours in the city. What I saw of the island, which is a small percentage, was very beautiful, green, rolling, short forests. I wish I had more time here, because there is a lot more things to see and do on the Island.

Chiloe Landscape:

A typical house on the island:

The following day, I woke up early enough to take the bus to the national park. After a 30 minute ride, they dropped me off on a dirt road, and told me to walk 10 or 20 minutes to the entrance. Anways, the park was kind of like a low forest, in the mountains. There is a city of a whopping 400 people, called Corrientes, there, as well. I was basically the only one in the park, save for a few people I saw.

Since there are only 3 buses all day to/from this place, I had to make sure I knew exactly when/where the bus picked me up. The driver told me to board at the same spot on the dirt road at 2pm. No problem. Got there at 140, parked my butt for awhile until 230, then I thought maybe he said ‘doce’ instead of ‘dos’. Anyways, walked down the empty dirt road 15 minutes to the only market, where the guys told me to hitchhike. I was actually a bit excited, but then when I walked out, the bus was approaching, and I boarded.

The bumpy ride in the 'minibus' here:

The vast emptiness they dropped me off at:

A view from inside the park:

Waiting and waiting and waiting at the 'bus stop' in Correntoso, Chile:

Fun fact: I am now enjoying hot showers again in Bariloche. There was no natural gas in Puerto Montt, so I took some collllllllllllllldddddddddddd showers. It stunk.

End of Story. Un Abrazo de Bariloche, Argentina.

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