Ride to Coyhaique, Attempt #2

I’m up early and make it a mellow morning waiting for the bus, blogging it up a little bit and drinking about four cups of instant coffee. As the bus is due to arrive I say later to Edgar and shuffle my way around the corner.

It’s pretty much the same bus ride as last time, minus the Canadian couple to my right side that were on the last one. With no one to talk to, and not feeling the need to see Santa Lucia for the fourth time, I drift off into a nap.

With my the same level of wisdom I showed on the last trip by heading out without any cash, I started this one without grabbing road food. I figured it’s only four hours to La Junta so I’d just grab grub there like last time but when we arrive, everything is closed except for a small cafe. They do have great coffee but it’s cake and jello for lunch.

We pass Puyuhuapi and this time I stay on the bus. Well, I run off to find a public bathroom but when I fail I pee on the back of someone’s fence, making sure I remain within sight of the bus in case I have to zip up in a hurry and high-tail it over there.

The road degrades fast after Puyuhuapi, turning into a single-lane dirt track cut out of the side of the hill. We follow the cove for a while and it’s beautiful but it’s impossible to take pics, the windows are dirty and fogging up now that about a dozen more people loaded on at Puyuhuapi. There isn’t much civilization along the road with the exception of a fish farm here and there, and at one point we see a parking lot with a sign for a lodge. The lodge is nowhere to be seen but there’s a boat ramp, so I guess it’s over on the other side of the cove, accessible by boat only.

The snowline is growing closer and closer. I’m not sure whether the road’s gaining altitude or the snow’s just at a lower level as we move south. At the end of another cove we cross a river over a single-lane suspension bridge, looking out the window the view is unbelievable… Seriously one of the most gorgeous views I’ve seen on this trip but I can’t take pics! I try to wipe the condensation off the bus windows but it just beads up everywhere.

We move inland next to powder-blue glacial streams full of boulders, then make a couple of short stops in podunk towns. In one of them I manage to find a cheap ham and cheese sandwich that’s surprisingly good. Definitely not the most interesting place but I actually manage to take some pics for the first time today.

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We climb back on the bus and as the sun begins to set, some absolutely terrible movie comes on the screen at the front (which had previously been turned off). Even with headphones on I can still hear it so I pull my Buff down over my eyes and try to sleep.

A dude next to me wakes me up in Coyhaique. It feels late but I have no idea what time it actually is. I grab my stuff as the bus driver and his helper unload everyone’s gear from the luggage compartment and as there’s no obvious direction to go (the town’s completely dead), I just pick a direction and start walking.

After walking for ten minutes or so I find some hostels but they’re locked up – not just the front door, but with gates closed across their front yards so I can’t even ring their doorbells. Eventually I do find one, it looks swank but I’m walking around a town I don’t know with all my shit on my back, it’s pretty late and it seems to be the only thing open so I give it a go.

It is expensive – about $80 a night – but they’ve got a room, so I take it. The guy goes to a rack on the wall where the room keys are and the one for my room is missing so he grabs a secondary key, presumably to be used if the first one is lost. Should’ve known something was up at this point but I wasn’t thinking straight… Up to the room, open the door and hit the lights. There’s luggage all over the floor and a dude sits up in bed and gives me a “WHAT THE FUCK?” look and hand gesture but doesn’t say anything. I sputter out a bunch of broken Spanish – “Sorry, sorry, management gave me this key, I don’t know what’s up” – and head back down. The guy at the front desk was looking at the wrong day’s room log, they don’t have any rooms for tonight. Good thing I hadn’t paid yet. He tells me there’s another hotel around the corner and five minutes down.

I find the hotel, go in and crash. It’s also expensive – another $80 a night joint – but I need a place with a phone anyways as I’m hoping to do some of that real-world job interview stuff tomorrow.

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