Around Puerto Williams

We spent the Friday before going to Puerto Toro climbing the Cerro Bandera (the Hill of the Flag). It was supposed to be a 3 hour trip up and down but we ended up taking the whole day as we got carried away with snow fights (it was the first time in his life Selis, who is from Mexico, was seeing snow, so we had to take proper time to celebrate that) and also with climbing another peak, and then another. The view and the colors of the trees were absolutely breathtaking and we all agreed we had never seen anything like that before. We took our time admiring it but the wind was so strong that after a while we had to start back down. There was only one way back but we thought we could take a shortcut. Of course we ended up getting lost-ish and went down more than 30 minutes through thick forest full of fallen trees and branches, no sign of path in sight. It was so much fun!! When Boca said ‘My grandpa and his friend took a shortcut when we were walking through a forest once; it was supposed to be a 1 hour trip but we ended up walking the whole day’ we started to think that indeed we’d want to find that path soon. In the end we did and made it back down safe and sound, with not too many bruises either.

On Sunday we went exploring again, this time to the Omora Ethnobotanical Park. I think I’ve mentioned how Chile is full of friendly stray and not so stray dogs? Well, that applies to the end of the world as well. Little after we left the hostel 3 dogs started walking with us and only left our sight when we got back into town. Of course we got lost again at some point and we kept looking at where the dogs were as clue for the right direction. It didn’t always work, but it was great fun nevertheless :). On the way back, as we were approaching our hostel, we almost let out a scream when our eyes met some 7-8 absolutelly gorgeous horses chilling and eating some grass just outside of town. I could already imagine myself riding one of those beautiful specimens… but I guess that’s a dream left for another time :).

We left Puerto Williams by plane on Monday afternoon. We had bought our tickets from Punta Arenas and they had told us the flight was at 5pm and we had to be in the airport at 4.30. Daniella and Selis were told at the office in Puerto Williams that the flight was at 4.30 and they had to be there at 4. And then the lady who was working in our hostel told us the plane was actually leaving at 3. So by this time we were totally confused… it had happened many times before in Chile that we were given different times for activities, but never for a flight. Anyway, the owner of our hostel said he could drive us there for 2000 pesos each (5USD) but we thought that was total rip-off since in other places for such a distance we’d pay around 350 pesos. We knew the airport was near so we decided to leave the house around 3.30 thinking we’d either find someone else to drive us for a better price or just walk the whole way.

After leaving the hostel we asked some people how far the airport was and they all made it seem like it was very near, 20 minutes walk. So we started walking and in 20 minutes we indeed reached the aiport. The only problem was… it was on the other side of a stretch of water which had no bridge over it, so the only way to get there was to go around on a 5km road. It was 4pm by now so we just continued walking and hoping we’d make it in time. The view on this road was spectacular, with the snow-capped mountains reflecting in the clear water, and again those amazing colours we keep mentioning. At 4.15 we started to realise we were not going to make it in time so we decided to hitchhike. The first car we stopped took 2 of us and all the backpacks except for Silviu’s as he was walking in front. The 3 of us continued walking and at some point Silviu started running down the hill with his 2 backpacks shacking left and right. A few minutes later another car stopped and a nice lady took mercy on us and drove us to the airport.

When we got there all we had to do was look at the lady as she put a tick next to our names on a piece of paper. Not only no checking of luggages and no scanning, but there was also no checking of passports or any other form of ID. We could not believe it! We could have been anyone boarding that flight but they seemed not to be bothered at all. We understood why when we saw the plane: it had a capacity of 20 passengers and it was the smallest plane we had ever flown in before. It looked more like a toy compared to the ‘real ones’ and we couldn’t decide whether to be amazed or amuzed.

We got on and realised it was so small that it looked and felt more crammed than a bus. The cool thing was we could see the cockpit! Clearly there were no stewardesses on board so before we took off the pilot poked his head out the cockpit and gave us a 1 minute orientation on fastening our seatbelts and switching off all electronic equipment. We thought that was hilarious!

The view from the plane was breathtaking as usual and we could now see all the mountains, glaciers and lakes from high up. The winds were strong that day and after a while the plane started shaking more than we would have wanted it to. At times we felt we were in a roller-coaster but that was NOT exciting at all and the adrenaline quickly turned into actual fear, at least for me. It was already getting dark and as the plane was shaking I looked outside the window and saw nothing but the water below us, in the dim light. Titanic scenes of people dying in the ocean at night immediately came to mind and I had to quickly switch to ‘think happy thoughs, think happy thoughs’ :). I was reliefed when we eventually landed and I let out a ‘whoohooo’ accompanied by happy clapping – it did attract strange looks from the other passengers, but of course I was nowhere near caring about that minor detail.

It was a unique experience for sure and despite all i’ve mentioned above, we’d definitely recommend it! 🙂

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