Monday, December 13, 2010

We´re off to see the penguins.... The wonderful penguins of Chile

In case if you haven´t figured it out, the title is my attempt of trying to come up with a catchy title that you could sing along to the music of The Wizard of Oz.

Punta Arenas is a small town, just like Puerto Natales.  It´s just as cold and windy, but more populated.  I was crossing the street and almost got hit by a car, as I had been used to much fewer cars and no traffic lights to signal when cars or pedestrians were to pass.

I also noticed another thing as I wandered around these cities: the lack of American commercial influence.  I haven´t seen a single McDonalds or Burger King since I have been down here, which is a stark contrast to Santiago.  I have also not seen a single movie theater, and I remember a friend who lived down here telling me that she had to take a bus to another town if she wanted to see a movie.

This was my first time traveling down here going to a city without having a hostel prebooked online.  I´m a pretty organized person and like to know what I´m going to be doing and where I´m going to be staying when I´m traveling.  I reserved my first hostel in Puerto Natales online for one night and planned to extend it once I arrived if I didn´t find an overnight tour to Torres del Paine, but when I went to extend it they were overbooked.  They helped me find another hostel that was actual 1.000 pesos (about $2) cheaper per night, but it turns out it didn´t have a kitchen to cook.  So that hostel referred me to another place that was another 1.000 pesos cheaper per night.  So I ended up saving about $8 in the end, which doens´t sound like much but living on a Chilean income it actually is a nice savings.

When I arrived in Punta Arenas I checked out a hostel that was in my Let´s Go guide, but they wanted 10.000 per night (about $20).  Then I tried another hostel around the corner and I hit the jackpot: $5.000 per night, not including breakfast.  I have a bed in the "Special Room", which kind of has a bunk bed configuration.  I have the top bed, which reminds me of the loft bed I had in my first apartment in Los Angeles.

The guy who works at the hostel was friendly and helped me find a good tour to see the penguins, and he told me I shouldn´t pay more than 15.000 pesos.  When I went to the company he recommended, they wanted 22.000 pesos, but when I mentioned his name and the hostel name, that price suddenly dropped to 13.500.  It´s kind of funny how people will try to take advantage of you pricewise until they realize they could be called on it or that you know what a reasonable price is.

And so I got to see the penguins at the Otway Sound!  Here are some pictures:

It sounds weird to say, but I´m actually getting kind of tired of traveling.  The buses, the waiting, the hostels, and the general uncertainty of situations that I usually enjoy or don´t mind is starting to get a bit old.  After seeing the penguins I was content to simply relax at the hostel and eat some dinner, get a good night´s sleep, and prepare for my return to Santiago.

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