Nov 14 Monday – Travel: Torres del Paine to Punta Arenas to Santiago

Alli’s journal:

Kyu’s ponderings:

Tetsu’s jibber jabber:

i woke up in my tent and was was feeling like crap so Alli gave me a thermometer to check if I had a fever.  I had a bit, not too bad.

Body was a bit sore.  What was hard to tell was whether the soreness was from the previous day’s hike, or if I had a cold.

Alli’s med bag had some dayquil, so she gave me a few and I was feeling better within an hour.

Luckily, the night before, Alli had also checked the buses and was able to get the last tickets heading out.

We packed up and headed towards the bus stop, which is the visitor center.

Along the way, we met Cindy, from Canada. She had come to Chile with some friends, but through some unforeseen events, ended up hiking the “O” solo. Impressive! She wasn’t able to do the Three Towers from a scheduling perspective, but she had an amazing time going over the John Mar pass from Los Perros to Grey.

We passed the refugio on the way to the Visitor’s Center

The Visitor Center has a low profile, seemingly designed to ensure as much of the beautiful landscape is as visible as possible.

The building on the right is actually for staff only, and contains several saddles.

The entrance is a narrow doorway at the end of the building between both buildings.

Inside there’s a minimart and souvenir shop, and beyond that is a fairly large sitting area.

There are some super cool maps of the park.

The first is a detailed 3d map of the park, it’s incredibly cool

And you get a really good sense of the Three Towers as well.

Against the back wall is another map with lots of great information

Much closer, you can see that the trail map is clearly outlined as well. Super cool

While waiting, we got to meet another pair of awesome hikers. They are from Basque! How cool is that?!

Cristina and Iratxe. Iratxe’s name has a staccato in the center, sort of like “pizza”. It’s almost easier to get the correct pronunciation in Japanese “いらっつぇ”. She said it’s a traditional Basque name. It was fascinating to hear about education in Basque. Apparently, the region banned the teaching of the Basque language for a period, and started teaching it again, so there is a generation of Basque folks who don’t speak Basque, and now a policy driven effort to revive the language and culture to help preserve it.

Cristina and Iratxe travel together every year. And have traveled a great deal. They’ve been to Atacama, Rainbow Mountain, and the Iinca trail together. The Inca trail and Machu Pichu was the best experience so far in Latin America.  They’ve travelled around Spain together as well.  They highly recommend the Spanish alps.  Cristina gets altitude sickness above 3500meters but still goes on mountain trips. Unstoppable!

Also, totally random, while putting this blog together, I reviewed thousands of photos and dozens of videos. I was surprised to see Cristina in one of the videos I’d taken at Los Cuernos.

We hung out at the tables for a few hours while charging our phones, drinking coffee and chatting. Eventually, it was time to get ready to line up for the shuttle bus which would take us to Laguna Amarga.

After all this talk of Calafate ale, it was also cool to finally see what it actually looked like. Or, at least what the calafate berry bush looks like.

As we lined up to get on the bus, we loaded up the back of the bus with our gear first and got in line.

And then, shock of all shocks, the bus became completely full, so our gear left without us.

Those of us who didn’t get on the bus, with our gear headed out ahead of us, spent about a minute in shock….and then all we could do was laugh.

While waiting, we got to meet Emily and Nicholas

Their business is running Airbnbs.  They have 5 or so in Maine and New Hampshire

We were able to catch the next shuttle. 

The ride was a short 10+ minutes to Laguna Amarga. And as expected, everyone’s gear was there, left on the side of the road.

It’s a little weird as there are these large buildings in the middle of nowhere.

As the strike was still on, the buildings were locked up tight, with no bathroom access. There was a slightly somber look on the expressions of most of the people we saw there. It was understandable. Torres del Paine is an incredible experience, and for those waiting here, the adventure, or at least this segment of a longer adventure, was over.

The bus to Puerto Natales was a mere couple of hours, a fairly quick ride. We had just a few minutes to catch the next bus, which also stopped at Punta Arenas airport. 

Some of us looked pretty exhausted. Now what kind of person is mean enough to take a picture… hee hee.

We had a pretty long wait for the flight and killed time at the restaurant.

When the security gate finally opened up to allow us through, we couldn’t bring our poles in carry-on, so I ran down, found a family checking in and gave away the poles.

The flight from Punta Arenas to Santiago was uneventful. I was still not feeling 100%, so after finally getting to the Airbnb, I quickly fell asleep.

Farewell Patagonia.

You were awesome.

Patagonia Map Routes W-Trek

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