Monday, March 2, 2009

1 Mar – Punta Arenas, Chile
Despite the view that lasts nights accommodation may have been assembled by teenagers on dope it was in practice a pleasant visit with wonderful hosts. Breakfast was a grand affair with crapes and scrambled egg and in stark contrast to the usual fare of dried bread and tea.
We left early with a very fresh cold wind to accompany us. The chill went right through you in the same way it does on a winters day in the Maniatoto when on the way to the Brass Monkey. Only this was the end of Feb not the end of May. The road followed the shore of the Magellan Strait while out to the right in the far distance, low rolling hills with a great expanse of grassy plains in between. A couple of Guanaco grazing the roadside look up and make a bolt for the fence and with one graceful leap easily clear the top wire. Later on I see a fox approach from the right. It takes a quick look and trots nonchalantly across the road in front of me and just as it reaches the safety of cover on the other side takes a furtive look back at me before disappearing from view. We round a corner and startle a flock of geese by a water hole and in unison they leap into the air, powerful wings straining to motivate their fat bodies into action. By the time we get there they are above our heads and circling away. We wait for the parting shots of poop to rain down on us. It's our lucky day.
The ferry takes us the short distance across the strait to the mainland and for me the purpose of this ride is at an end. I wanted to ride to Tierra del Fuego and it is done. The rest of the day was largely an uninteresting ride to our overnight stop. Possibly the highlight was passing through an abandoned 1879 Estancia, San Gregorio complete with two rusting hulks washed up on the beach. One of the ships is an 1860's “Tea Clipper” – the Ambassador. A Google search shows it is one of only 4 of its type left in the world, one being the Cutty Sark.

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