Saturday, October 20, 2012

Valdivia to Punta Arenas

Hello dear readers, have I a tale to tell you!

Tuesday in Valdivia we ventured forth to see old Spanish forts that protected the sweet waters of the city.  There were originally 17 or so that protected the entry to the river, but time and earthquakes have claimed all but three. 

We entered the Castilla de Niebla and were greeted by a tour guide dressed in pirates clothing.  He told us about the construction of the fort and, more importantly, how the allegedly unbeatable system used by the Spanish was defeated by Chilean and Argentinean revolutionary forces, thanks to the help of a Scotish pirate!  After this hearty adventure, we helped ourselves to another lunch of delicously fresh fish.

Wednesday morning, it was time to depart and we took a short, 4 hour bus ride to Puerto Montt.  From there, we discovered that the next bus to Punta Arenas was not to leave until the following day, so we bought tickets, found a hotel, and wandered about the city.  Puerto Montt is a growing port city that does have a very nice, newer side of town including a pier and shopping mall where we enjoyed a lunch of "Doggis" hot dogs!  We loaded up on snacks for our upcoming 32 hour bus ride, like apples, chips, bread, cookies... You know, health food!  The following morning, our bus left at 11 am and made a few short stops in the first hour, but then we got really going.  We crossed the border into Argentina around 4 pm and entered through a national park that had stunning mountain views and snow on the ground!  We stopped for a short dinner of empanadas then hit the road again.  The bus showed a bunch of cheesy movies, dubbed in spanish, of course.  Luckily, the bus was not very full and most people were able to take two seats to themselves to stretch out (a little) and sleep, but honestly, it isn't a very restful sleep.  The next morning, we were on a very flat and windy region of Argentina where we saw huge flocks of sheep and even ostrich until we crossed the border back into Chile in the early afternoon.  The roads were clear the whole way and the border crossings very quick, so we arrived a few hours ahead of schedule.  We walked around until we found an accomodating hostal, then explored the city.  Our hostal has a kitchen, so we decided to cook our own dinner.  Apparently, there is a kind of local turkey that is very affordable here, so we bought two giant legs and some veggies and rice to make a sort of Jambalaya that was delish!  As you may imagine, we slept pretty solidly that night, after the poor sleep on the bus and an afternoon around town.

Today, we explored the town further and booked our excursion to the penguin colony for tomorrow.  Matt is very excited about the penguins!  We also booked our tickets to Ushuaia for Tuesday, since the busses don't go there every day.  For lunch, we headed to a restaurant specializing in local cuisine.  As it is very Cold in these parts, Matt ordered a Paila Marina, or seafood soup, to warm him up.  I had to try the Centolla, or king crab, as it is reputed to be extra delicious here.  I ordered the Chupe de Centolla, which I was told would be like a "pastel" or pastry, so I was expecting crab cakes.  What came was a bowl of a mixture similar to crab cakes, but baked, not fried, and topped woth some large pieces of crab and a boiled egg.  It was, simply, amazing.  And very rich.  I think we can safely say that we have eaten more sesfood, especially shell fish, in the lsst two weeks than we have in the last 5-10 years!  And all so fresh, so delicious, and affordable!  After lunch, we wandered down to the Staight of Magellen which is the "beach".  As it is 50 degrees farenheit and extremely windy, we just took pictures and did not go in!

It is such an exciting time!  Our one year travel-versary is coming up and how fitting that we should be in Ushuaia to celebrate!  Of course, the reward for all this cold weather will be to return north to Buenos Aires and eventually Rio de Janeiro, to warm up again!  That's all for now, dear readers, so be well and look forward to many penguin pictures soon!

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