January 2023- Chile
After the fun of watching those penguins, we planned a ferry from Porvenir to Punta Arenas and then a drive on to Puerto Natales. This area of Chile is actually a bunch of disconnected islands and a lot of ocean water. So ferries are cheap and common transportation.
Before we drove on to the ferry we stopped by to see the rare and beautiful stromalite (estromalite in Spanish) garden and walkway just outside of town. This beautiful board walk leads to the center of an ancient microbial mat of stromalite.
These stromatalites are the oldest known fossil and are still developing in saline lagoons such as this. They grow and develop in a complex conversion of sunlight to release oxygen. They are neither a plant or an animal, but rather a structure. If this makes you curious, I urge you to research this further.
After this science lesson and exploration, it was time for our ferry ride to Punta Arenas. Here is a photo of Nica watching the waves from the window of the camper as we ride the ferry across the bay.
In Punta Arenas we spent a night camped on a beach front site, wedged in between a monastery and a burned out church. It was a bit of a creepy location, but it was peaceful for one night. There were calm waves and loud ocean birds making noise all night long.
The next night we stayed at a well-known farm in the area called Beni’s Huerta. Huerta means vegetable garden in Spanish. Beni is a beautiful woman who envisioned an organic farm that would provide healthy, low cost foods to local restaurants. In the USA the farm-to-table movement is well known. But in this region of Chile that is very difficult. The harsh climate, poor soil and short growing season brings many challenges. But these two have worked hard to make it possible. We enjoyed touring their project, purchasing some fresh food and posing for a goofy photo!
On our way down the hill from the farm, we spotted this cool old truck. I included these photos for the car-buffs that follow the blog. This turquoise gem is a FARGO 100. Take some time to research a Fargo, and let me know what you find out!
And no old truck would be complete without a guard dog peering through the fence at us taking pictures. Here is the dog.
The drive to Puerto Natales was just the beginning of a region known loosely as Patagonia. The dramatic peaks were far in the distance, and the rolling hills lead to muddy bays and shorelines. The scenery on this side of the tail of South America is very different than the scenery on the eastern side of the tip.
In Puerto Natales we rented a small house in the valley. We wanted to clean some mud out of the camper, and have a safe place to leave the dogs while we explored the nearby national park. The house was the perfect place to break out my sourdough mix and whip up some yummy food. I left the sourdough (masa madre in Spanish) with the home owner, and she says it is still producing delicious batters and breads.
The dogs each enjoyed the rental house in their own way. Nica enjoyed laying in the tall, dry grass and playing with her orange toy. Pacha loved laying on the couch, near the heater and occasionally gazing out the window.
We took the time to utilize the washing machine, and fresh air for drying things along the fence. And gazing off at the beautiful views on the horizon in the cloudy skies.
We enjoyed a few meals in Puerto Natales. We found a couple geocaches and did some basic shopping. Because everything here comes by boat, the city is centered at the port. And basic goods are very expensive. A trade off for the gorgeous views.
This rainbow across the bay was a beautiful gift welcoming us to Patagonia. We feel so fortunate to be embarking on this next phase of our journey.