Arrival in Hornopirén

The bimodal bus/boat trip to Chaitan leaves from Puerto Montt at 7 am only, already missed it. Looks like it’s a 1 pm to Hornopiren instead. I really should try to get to Chaitan but man, I can’t stay in this town another day. Freezing my ass off in Hornopiren National Park is almost definitely preferable to another day of drunks shitting on sidewalks and stray dogs.

Figuring things out around the terminal I see the first sign of other travelers, quite a few really. Some my age, some young Aussies, some Baby Boomers.

Hours to kill. Find coffee and try to blog but can’t find anywhere with working Wi-Fi…

Jump on the bus. Tantrum-ing kid kicking me in the back. Mother ignores both it and me.

Riding down the coast, beautiful scenery, steep hills to the left, ocean to the right. Small fishing villages scattered around with pebbly streams dividing them and the occasional pebbly beach. Small scrub around us, more familiar temperate forest further up the hills.

We roll the bus straight onto a ferry. Rotating while unable to look out the windows because of a truck next to us – very strange sensation. I have good sea legs but this makes me feel a little wonky.

Great view but impossible to take pictures. Can’t really get off the bus, a truck on my side and the windows on the other side are kind of scratched up and foggy, unfortunately. Nice though, water is clear blue-green as we pass islands.

Awesome scenery continues on the other side and then we come to a stop. Lots of traffic up ahead but I can’t catch what’s going on and I can’t see. Maybe an accident? Maybe roadwork? The driver kills the engine and I try to be patient but eventually climb off to take a look ahead. A bridge is blockaded by a bunch of people waving flags around. It’s a labour action of some kind but everyone is talking too fast for me to decipher who the folks involved are. One guy dismissively says “Mas dinero” while making the money-hand gesture. The federal police are there and eventually get the demonstrators to move aside to let some traffic – including us – through.

The road turns inland, and we’re on dirt. This doesn’t seem to be temporary dirt, we’re just getting into a remote-enough stretch now that the roads are no longer paved. Damn. We don’t make great time. The vegetation is replaced with huge, primeval-looking ferns.

We come to a vista and there’s not much out here. The houses are sparse now, don’t see many people, a handful of sheep and cattle here and there. Pretty though.

Another stop, this time for roadwork. Down to one lane of gravel, really slow moving now.

We pass through a few small villages, letting a handful of people off. Other than knowing there’s a small village outside the park, I have no idea what Hornopiren will be like but it very well could be like these, in which case I might have trouble finding a place to stay. REALLY hoping it’s not cold here, but given the snow-capped peaks looming overhead and the chills I’ve felt when the door has been opened to let people off, I suspect it will be.

Pull into town and it’s a bit bigger than the other places, it actually has a school, several churches, a gas station, and plenty of places to stay. I’m already seeing things with “The End of the World” incorporated into their name or ads, but it’s still a heck of a long ways to go from here. It’s really pretty here, with several peaks surrounding it and what looks like a lakefront – the tide and the tsunami warnings make me pretty sure this is the Pacific Ocean, but it looks like a lake because of the surrounding cliffs.

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Don’t find any dorm rooms but I find a private room for about $25 USD. I’ll see how it feels around here tonight and if it’s reasonable I’ll camp out tomorrow.

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Go out on the town and it’s super quiet, a welcome change. A few people walking around, a couple dozen people hanging out in the plaza, three carabinaros walking along the waterfront.

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All of the places with fast food like empanadas seem to be closed so I try to find a bar/restaurant with something happening… most of them seem to be closed too. Go into one with a large portrait of Che Guevara on the back wall, the guy running the place is friendly, brings me out a bunch of bilingual Spanish-English magazines about Patagonia that are really good – nature photography, trek reviews, some interesting historical articles. Didn’t realize Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid roamed this area after wearing out their welcome in the States. Not a big menu – basically steak and salmon – but the steak is quite possibly the best steak I’ve ever had.

Back at the hotel, fog is rolling in off the hills and over the streetlights. I don’t hear any dogs, just waves. Fuck yeah.

12:30 and I’ve nodded off. And the dogs start. For fuck’s sake.

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