I´m typing this post from the computer at my hostel in Puerto Natales.
The trip to get here was an adventure, as always. I booked one night at the Yaganhouse hostel in Puerto Natales, and my thought was that I could always extend my stay there for two more nights if I didn´t find a tour with a few nights in Torres del Paine. I tried to reserve a seat on the bus from Punta Arenas (where I was arriving) to Puerto Natales (the city closest to Torres del Paine), but I did not have success at first. This is what the phone conversation with Buses Fernandez sounded like (translated into English):
Buses Fernandez: Hello?
Me: Hi, is this Buses Fernandez?
Me: Can I get a reservation for the 8 AM bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales?
BF: We don´t do reservations by phone.
Me: Ah ok. Well perhaps you can help me with this. I´ll be arriving on a flight from Santiago at ...
I then hear music and realize that I was put on hold. I waited a few minutes, and no one ever came back to me. I then tried calling back, but I got no answer. I wanted to explain that I was arriving early in the morning and was wondering if a bus could pick me up at the airport since they pass by there.
I took a friend´s advice and called my hostel, and they purchased a seat for me on the 8 AM bus with Buses Fernandez. (Or so I thought, read on to find out what happened)
My flight from Santiago was at 1:25 this morning, and since I wasn´t sure when the last shuttle to the airport was, I left my apartment around 9:45. I made it to the airport by 11, and so I camped out for a few hours before getting my flight.
The flight was uneventful, and I arrived in Punta Arenas at 4:40. For some reason I thought I was going to arrive at 5:40. I camped out and slept until 8:15, and I stood outside waiting for my bus. When they arrived I told them my name, but they said that there was no reservation and asked me what seat the hostel purchased for me. I told them that the hostel didn´t give me that information and called them, but they didn´t answer. The bus attendant allowed me to board anyway.
After about half an hour, the hostel called me. They wanted to confirm that they had purchased a seat for me on the 11 AM bus with Buses Pacheco. I told them that I was already on the 8 AM bus, as that is what they told me about yesterday. The hostel told me that the bus company said they don´t pass by the airport, so they had to go with another company and that there weren´t any seats until 11.
I can laugh about it now, but the whole process seemed very confusing. I mean, why would you confirm with someone that they have a reservation on a bus if they didn´t? And if something changed, why wouldn´t you call them to inform them of the change? I can smile about it now and I arrived without a problem, but this is one aspect of Chilean culture that bothers me a bit.
After getting checked into my hostel, I dropped my bags and decided to walk around and explore Puerto Natales. It´s a small sleepy town, and since I¨m so close to the South Pole it´s actually pretty cold here. It will be between 40 and 60 my entire time here, and the wind is pretty strong. The city is pretty small, and it´s along the lake. I was walking along the shore, and the brisk air reminded me of La Serena.
I settled on a full day tour of Torres del Paine (a famous national park here) for tomorrow, and I visited a few souvineer shops and peekd into some restaurants. After coming back and making lunch, I went out walking again and got some hot chocolate to warm me up.
As I was sitting and writing some postcards, a woman started up a conversation with me. It turns out that she´s from Santiago and owns a jewelry shop in the Radisson where my dad will be staying in February. She´s an avid traveler also, and we talked about our travel adventures and exchanged contact information.
I´m excited for the trip to the national park tomorrow. And I almost forgot that today marks 10 months of traveling since I left home.