28 Feb – Porvenir, Chile
Well, we are on our way back north. At the moment we are still on the island of Tierra del Fuego but will be off by tomorrow evening. The ride back over the mountains to Rio Grande was cold and wet but without incident except possibly our decision to go mean on the accommodation. We wanted to skip the high-priced hotel and use a hostel of more modest appointment. We got our wish and exchanged marble floors and sweet scented rooms for lino tiles and the smell of paint. This was a place in early transition from run down wreak to, er a place in transition. At least they had mastered the dismantle stage. Our group crossed back into Chile today and most took the main route to Punta Arenas, a road already ridden. Peter and I took the route that followed the coastline along an inlet of the straits of Magellan to this little town which while still on Tierra del Fuego is just a short ferry ride to Punta Arenas. I'm glad we did. The route was really quite beautiful despite it being very desolate. It was also cold and we had a stiff headwind. It is hard to believe anyone would seriously choose to live here but they do. There are a number of estancia's (farms) and every now and then a corrugated iron fishing shack with a precarious hold on the shifting stones of the beach. Hauled up next to the shack is a yellow open deck wooden boat of about 8 metres and out the back are crab pots and fishing associated litter from times past, all slowly rusting the years away. A scruffy dog comes from nowhere to investigate and finding us of little interest hurries back to the warmth of its shelter. This is no place even for a dog it seems. Tomorrow we continue our journey around the coast to catch the other boat off the island on account we missed todays one by 30 minutes and are now faced with a 300 km ride or a day and a half wait for the next boat. We were told the boat left at 2PM but it apparently went at 1PM. So for tonight we are holed up in the Chilean seaside town of Porvenir, a place of around 5,000 hardy soles. The town has nothing to recommend itself except possibly as a place to threaten the kids with the next time they drive you mad. The town is said to have been founded by ex Croats and certainly the owner of this place looks like a refugee from the Serbia/Croatia war. There is even a fading picture of a man in a suit hanging on the wall. I would like to think it to be his father but it bears an uncanny resemblance to a former Croat leader now resident in the Hague. This hostel too has seen better days. The ceilings sag and the floors creek eerily. You step directly from a gravel roadway into the guest entrance which at night is illuminated by a single bulb that flickers on and off as it rattles in its holder from the wind gusts. We are the only guests and have been made to feel very welcome. I do hope this mans name is Jankovich and not Bates for I fear we will wake up dead in our beds.