Sunday February 1, 2015 (Chile, Patagonia, South America)
Preparation for the trek today!
We started the day off with a 10km run along the Patagonian coast. The famed high winds were certainly in full effect, but that didn’t deter us! It’s quite a rugged terrain here, but absolutely gorgeous.
First order of business was picking up all of the food required for the trip to the park. The hike we're planning is called the “W Circuit” and generally takes 5 days to complete, so we needed to think carefully about what foodstuffs to bring with us. The less water weight, the better! So now we’re the proud owners of a whole bunch of granola, oatmeal, condensed milk powder, Milo… you get the point. Not exotic, but it works.
Puerto Natales is a “no plastic bag” community. The first in Chile, so we’re told. We suppose they’re trying to push an environmentally friendly agenda because they’re the main jumping off point for hiking in the national park.
Spanish is different here in Chile. Whereas most South American countries would pronounce “Como Estas” something like “COH-moh ess-TAH”, the Chilenos think it appropriate to turn it into “COH-moh ay-TYE”. So everybody who took language lessons up in Bolivia (where they’re super cheap) and then came south to Chile is realizing they can’t understand a word anybody says to them.
Cash is also king here in Chile. The problem is, on a Sunday the bank machines tend to run out of money. And there’s only one bank open. And only one of the two machines works. So there’s a lineup of 20 people to get the cash out which they require to pay for access to the park, transportation within the park, and so on. By the time we got to the front of the line, the machine was only giving out 5000 peso notes which are the equivalent of about $10 CAD. Imagine how many of those you need to get anything reasonable done. And also imagine the frustration for the people in line who get nothing after waiting for thirty minutes because the town is out of cash. Ugh.
We rented sleeping bags, mats, a tent, cooking gear, utensils. Got our outfits ready. One for hiking and one for sleeping. These two outfits last 5 days of intense hiking. You do the math on the resulting smells. We made sure to do some laundry to get our clothes in the best shape possible before heading out.
We met a great Swiss couple who are also staying at our hostel — Tobias and Manuela. They’re also doing the W Trek, so perhaps we can align ourselves on the journey!
The Internet access for the next 5 days will be incredibly spotty (if not non-existent), so apologies for a lack of updates! See you on the other side!