Joined: Jan 2005
Location: The Badlands (of NJ)
Thinking of Magellan.
A little stroll through Rio Grande. It's always interesting to explore foreign towns on foot - one does get the sense of life there.
It's really windy. The power and telephone wires overhead stretch and bow in the air.
Local fauna in Rio Grande... quite domesticated.
Throughout the region, I have seen these elevated containers for household garbage. Finally, it dawned on me: this is to protect the refuse from the ever-present stray dogs.
Where I live in NJ, we have bear-proof garbage cans; apparently, on Tierra del Fuego, they have dog-proof garbage baskets.
We are packing up and leaving. The plan for the day calls for re-entering Chile and then crossing the Straits of Magellan on board of a ferry from Porvenir.
Continuing northwest against the wind, we reach the border crossing. Lewis was trying to prepare his customs paperwork, but it left a lot to be desired. Luckily, Roberto is fluent in Spanish and was able to straighten out any kinks in the procedures.
Trying to protect its cultural artifacts and geological fossils from being taken away by tourists, Argentina created this public-service poster. I've seen it at several border crossings and on public buildings.
The way I understand it with my poor Spanish, the left panel says "Take This", while the right one says "Don't take that".
Hmmm... I do not know what the poster designers had on their mind, but - given a chance - I'd be very tempted to "Take This".
And hello, Chile!
Of course, more paperwork. Now in the Chilean post, we hand the passports to Policia International and bike titles and importation forms to Aduana (customs).
A bit of commotion ensues: apparently, there is some problem with the title of one of the KLR's - even though they were already registered in Chile. Again, we were quite happy that Roberto is able to smooth things over.
I encountered more of this in my youth, but I am not used to such complicated frontier crossings any more. In order to just peek out from Chile into Argentina for a few days and to return, we went through 4 separate immigration checks and 4 separate in-depth custom checks.
It could be worse: most of the people in the picture were on a tourist bus. Many of them were asked to bring their luggage and run it through a conveyor X-Ray machine, similar to those used at airport security checks.
Departing the border, we head now southwest, to reach and follow the shores of Magellan Straits.
An obligatory shot of yet another herd of guanacos crossing the road and the fences.
Delayed by the winds and by the time spent at the borders, we reach Porvenir just after the departure of daytime ferry to Punta Arenas. The next one is due to leave in the evening - we have several hours to kill: time for a long lunch.
Beside the expected Spanish mix, this area is also a home to a sizable Croatian population that arrived during a gold rush in the late 1800's (exterminating the aboriginal Selk'nam people in the process, needless to say).
It was pretty weird to have lunch in "Club Croata", the Croatian social club, located about as far away from the Balkans as one can get on Earth.
Lewis and Roberto spend the rest of the afternoon checking up on email in the local Internet and call center.
I wander through the streets, but find Porvenir to be a singularly unsightly place. It is a distinctly industrial and utilitarian center of the local fishing and sheep-farming communities.
Like most other towns in this part of the world, Porvenir is full of telephone poles and wires strung in every possible direction. Over street intersections, the wires actually have crossings of their own. Pretty neat.
But, never mind the streets. The real attraction of Porvenir for me is its location: on the shore of Straits of Magellan. I leave the guys in the Internet café and ride out of town to catch the last light over the waters.
The story of Magellan's expedition, their trials and tribulations (and deaths) is quite extraordinary. Just consider the audacity - and greed - of Magellan and his two-hundred-something crew from most of seafaring European nations, setting out on five ships to open a spice route to the Indies.
The expedition departed Seville in the summer of 1519. Almost exactly three years later, the sole surviving ship, "Victoria", returned to Spain with only 18 of the original crewmen aboard - after completing the first circumnavigation of the globe. Remaining four ships were lost, as were some 230 expedition members, including Magellan himself.
It was exciting to be in place so full of maritime history. It is the site of one of these pivotal events that shaped our world; an event that, for better or worse, affected the lives of everyone on Earth.
The inscription simply states "Straits of Magellan - discovered by Ferdinand Magellan on 21st of October 1520."
Just before sundown, the ferry to Punta Arenas gets ready for boarding.
Gusts of wind are powerful even on the car deck - we are holding on to the bikes while strapping them down.
Curiously, we watch a horse being walked onto the deck. Not something I have ever seen in my North American ferry crossings.
Stray dogs watch the proceedings with great interest, but stay put.
In short order everything is tightly locked down and ready to sail. (I am not sure about the horse...)
Coming out of the Porvenir harbor, we are accompanied by a fishing boat. These are tough waters to work - the men appeared to wear Mustang suits (insulating emergency suits).
According to what I read about the town, the area is suited only for small fishing boats; larger vessels are held back by the great number of wrecks in the bay.
Once in open waters of the Straits, we settle down for the 2-hour crossing. Lewis tries to affect a cultured and intelligent look, but the tiredness from several long days of adventure wins over.
Arriving in Punta Arenas in darkness, we quickly check into a hotel and grab a dinner before the restaurant closes.
I am quite beat - I spread the gear all over my room, with the best intentions of repacking, but instantly fall asleep.
rdwalker screwed with this post 10-16-2010 at 04:10 PM