Thursday, February 26, 2009

Puerto Natales and el fin del mundo

We had a nice hike around Torres Del Paine. The scenery lived up to expectations; there were hordes of people in places; it was windier than any other place I'd ever tried to hike. More on that in another post later.

We took the bus back into Puerto Natales and got in a few hours before dinner. I was jazzed for dinner. We had eaten at La Picada del Carlosito a week before when we got into Puerto Natales and it was incredible. I had the most delicious Salmon a lo pobre, it almost brought tears to my eyes it was so good. The following week as we hiked with our meagre rations, I had fantasized about the meal I was going to consume at La Picada when we returned triumphant. There would be piscos sour, fanschop, helado, the whole tres metros.

It was with dismay, then, that I was full after eating hardly half my lasagna, and was medio entonado after half of a fanschop (for the uninitiated, fanschop is fanta--orange soda--mixed with schop--draft beer. It's much better than it sounds.) Human food just wasn't going down as well as envisioned.

I was, however, getting off lucky compared to poor Erin, who already was suffering from some kickin' gastroenteritis. I went off to try to internet, while she went to nap in the tent, with the unevitable coda of trudging to the bathroom every hour or so. Pobrecita. The next day she was feeling slightly better, but we had already decided that a rest day was in order.

Now, we had been camping behind a restaurant that was pretty centrally located
in Puerto Natales. Consequently, every stray animal in the city, simpatico or craven, made the rounds during the day. There was Scraps, the theatrical begging dog. Scraps walks on his hind legs, rolls on the ground and moans, and almost tries to bolt into the tent when we are eating.

More unsettling was Gimps, the priapetic mutt. Gimps came into the camping one afternoon chasing a fine-looking lady-dog around lustily. Slightly mangy and with a cronic limp in the front right paw, Gimps is no looker; yet did not want to take no for an answer. We grabbed a couple of stones from the ground as we ate, just in case.

However, the highlight of the stray (or at least migratory) menagrie was Gatito, the kitten. She was pretty much the most adorable kitten I had ever laid eyes upon. Now, I'm not one to cuddle with weird cats, adorable or no, especially after an experience with un tal gato boliviano en un tal carpa de un tal Chris A., but we had seen her off and on for almost a week, so I guess there was a bit of a repoire built. So when she invited herself into the tent right as we were going to bed and curled up on my sleeping bag, we were sunk. Despite our weak and flagging protests, Gatito remained there for the night. She ended up nestled between Erin's bag and mine, enjoying a fine down beg made of $300 feathered friends sleeping bags.

Now we are Ushauia, Argentina. The end of the world. Even though that is not true (Puerto Williams on the Isla Navarina, across the Beagle Channel is further south), it certainly has that feel to it. I like it so far. Tomorrow we are catching a dingy across the channel to Puerto Williams where we will see about doing the trek around the Cordon de los Dientes, which might take 4 or 5 days, even though it's supposedly only 50 km. Incidently, Ushauia looks like a kick-ass place to take a ski vacation. Plenty of cross-country to be had, as well, Mom.


  1. hope you got some pics of the kitten! sounds like you had a great hike, can't wait for pictures

  2. Andrew - I was sorry to hear that you (and particularly Erin) have already experienced some gasto-intestinal illness. The stray kitten sounds adorable. Elissa has been lobbying pretty hard for another kitten (eventual cat) addition to our household. I wonder how your tent held up in the strong winds during your hike at Torres De Paine. Try to stay safe and healthy.