Partly because our amazing friend Ian designed us some country specific images and partly because it seems like a fun thing to do, I decided to write a wrap up of our Chile adventures. Hopefully this will be something we do in each country we head to.
This was an experience in itself. After months of preparing and weeks of clearing out our condo, leaving jobs, saying farewell to friends and packing our bags, we finally boarded our flights – exhausted. We spent a very short night in Lima, Peru, 2 days in Santiago and then down to Puerto Natales, which was our jumping off point for Torres del Paine. All the late nights had taken a toll on me and I head a pretty nice head cold when we left Boston. Thankfully our host on our last night, Lauren, gave me a couple DayQuil, but for some reason I only bought NyQuil at the Fort Lauderdale airport. So when the short supply of DayQuil ran out, I was stuck with ears that wouldn’t pop that made for a couple of uncomfortable descents and near deafness going through customs in Peru and Chile. I was definitely looking forward to not being in a plane for a while after 4 flights in as many days.
Santiago in a (very small) nutshell
We really enjoyed our time in Chile. While we only saw a small amount of it and for only a few short weeks, we found the people wonderful and the atmosphere enjoyable. We started in Santiago with 2 nights in a small Airbnb room. Our hosts Julio and Luis were accommodating and fed us a wonderful breakfast. Mostly we enjoyed some down time reading and relaxing on their balcony and by the pool. We did venture our for some empanadas, our dinner 2 nights in a row, and to explore a little bit of the area around our apartment. We found Santiago, Chile to be a more modern, clean, and organized version of “our Santiago”, the one in the Dominican Republic. There were bike lanes, traffic signals, and many modern shops. But for every modern shop there was a small hardware store, full of random parts and a couple of guys sitting outside chatting – exactly what we see in the Dominican.
Getting to Puerto Natales was another small adventure. We flew from Santiago to Punta Arenas and took a 3 hour bus to Puerto Natales. There are several busses, but each goes through the town of Punta Arenas first before heading to the airport, so they were all full. We were beginning to lose hope of getting an afternoon bus after being told the last one had no more seats. Luckily we had made friends with another couple, who knew much more Spanish than we did and after some confusion we were able to snag the last 4 seats on the last bus before the evening. The bus ride was exciting – seeing our first views of snow covered mountains and lots of sheep.
We enjoyed our time in Puerto Natales, both before and after Torres del Paine. We stayed at The Singing Lamb hostel – complete with pictures of singing lambs all around the main area. We enjoyed chatting in the kitchen with hikers who had returned from Torres del Paine and getting some advice and encouragement from them. We also really enjoyed some Skype sessions with family and friends back home, including joining our Dorchester community group!
Puerto Natales is a pretty cute town with lots of little shops – most of them either related to food or hiking. Our favorite was a dried fruit and nut shop where we found some of our favorites snacks for hiking – raspberry covered peanuts, spicy peanuts and chocolate covered pineapple. The history of Puerta Natales is pretty interesting. It’s located on the Última Esperanza (Last Hope) Sound, which was discovered by Europeans in 1557 when explorers were searching for the Strait of Magellan (apparently once something is discovered, it doesn’t mean it can always be found) and was their last hope after searching much of the waterways in the area.
Torres del Paine
I won’t say much here, since Danielle already summed it up pretty well. It was an amazing trek and probably, physically and mentally, one of the harder things I’ve done in my life. I was glad to be able to experience it with Danielle and see some pretty amazing views.
On to Argentina…
From Puerta Natales, we boarded a bus headed for El Calafate, Argentina. The bus ride was relatively painless, though the border crossing into Argentina took a little longer than it should have. Apparently, the friendly border guard was asking for Facebook names of any women who answered “si…” to being single. Stay tuned for more adventures of hiking in El Chalten, our daily workout schedule, and what it’s like to cook in a hostel!