Published: March 5th 2012March 2nd 2012
Erratic Rock bar, base camp
the Erratic Rock gang on my last day. champions all
2nd March 2012.
Happy St Davids day for yesterday to all my welsh readers.
Sat here in the Lilo Patagonicos hostel in Peurto Natales, a town the size of a postage stamp, letting my leg recover and wait for the 'Navimag' ship to arrive in a few days to continue my journey north. This will be an old freighter. The company have taken advantage of the tourist/traveller situation and so now offer a limited number of berths to the likes of me who want to sail for 4 days on the Pacific Ocean though the fjiords. Have already bought sufficent wine for the journey. Those I have spoken to who have arrived in PN from the north by freighter have all raved about it. whale and dolphin watching, the amazing coastline and the comerardie of the travellers.
Marcus (see blog 7) has been in touch to recommend some more hiking in El Chalten, Argentina. Day hikes and the like. would be fun, and would get me out of PN but do not want to risk it as might completely # up my leg for Machu Pichu in May. So have four days to kill in a town this
Balloo the bear
Disney fever hits Puerto Natales
size of a postage stamp letting my leg recover waiting for my boat to come in..
Peurto Natales. Like I said a town the size of a postage stamp. Colour...Grey mainly with the odd splash of colour here and there. It is the principle town for trips to Torres del Paine and is full of the usual suspects,.Tour shops, souvenir shops, a large supermercado etc. There is also a couple of whore houses, one of which is opposite the hostel. Not seen much action though. Maybe a secret entrance?
There are some things to do here though....
1. close my eyes really tight for as long as possible. Try to make out shapes and faces from the flashing stars that follow.
2. see how long I can hold the note F#
3. Try and not to think about pengiuns. very difficult to do
4. Practice my mind bending trick. look at a passer by and then will them to do something, like drop the shopping or walk into a lampost.
5. .stand by the elecronic door of the Banco Santander and everytime someone walks though them make a noise like the doors on
the Star Trek Enterprise when people walk onto the bridge.
6. tie my shoelaces until my fingers are numb.
As you may have guessed I have also given all my razor blades to the hostel owner and told her that under no uncertain terms were they to be returned until i check out.
So,when I came into town from the Torres the other day I saw an amazing sight. A statue of Balloo the Bear from my favorite disney film, The Jungle Book, by the welcome to PN sign. . I have been singing the Bare Necessities and other songs from that movie in my head all day. Altogether now ' Look for the, bare necesseties, the simple bare necessities......'
Bored of fiddling with my shoelaces all day, and getting moved away from the bank doors by security (no sense of humour these people in uniform), and not having any razor blades to hand ( I did ask for them back but Pamela, the hostel owner just kept reminding me of my strict instuctions to her.) I decide to walk out to were I had seen it and try and discover why the town of PN
The Inner sanctum
Briefing and Ops room, bar, restaurant and scene of many good times
had decided to erect a statue in honour of this disney character.
Turns out the statue is that of 'Mirodor'. A prehistoric bear like animal that lived in the caves around her some time back. Now I know that when bones of prehistoric animals are discovered there is some artistic licence by palentologists as to what the facial feature of these ancient creatures were, but i swear the person who designed this statue was an ex employee disney corp. The likeness is remarkable and very humerous.
obi do. i wanna be like you hoo hoo.
have also been practicing my Spanish. Walk into some random cafe, pick of a couple of strangers and fire away. Met a couple today (espouso y espousa) who make empanadas, chilean version of pasties, for sale in a local shop. Unbelievably they understood my attempts at converstaion in spanish and we chatted for 30 mins. Visited their shop later and bought a very tastie little number with meat and olives in it. The woman gave me her phone number. I thought my luck was in but then, following a little more conversation, realised that she would be happy to deliver Empanadas to my hostel for myself and guests. Any chance to drum up trade I suppose. Still very tasty.
3rd March. There are a couple of bars in PN, but by far and away the best, in my humble opinion, is Base Camp, a bar attached to a hostel called Erratic Rock, where I rented by equipment to # my knee up!!
It is run by Bill, a great guy from Oregon, USA. A traveller of the world and a big heart. Arrived in PN several years ago and put all his traveller knowledge, expectations etc into a hostel with his business partner. A couple of years ago they bought the building next door and turned it into a breifing room for hikers and a bar. His brother Paul (younger but just as freindly) runs this side and they provide food at a cheap rate too. The are not on any internet booking sites but are fuill everynight. Their motto is 'Tell your friends, don't tell the guide books'. Warm and welcoming I have , I am afraid to say, become part of the furniture at night. A huge Kayak hangs from the roof, bought from a person down on his luck with the intention of staff to use it to kayak about the place. Suffice to say it has never been taken down. Some real characters in the bar too, like John, a 71 yrs old Alaskan with a weather beaten face, who has been tramping around South America for years. A veteran of the Vietnam war, was involved in the cuban missile crisis and eventually spent 38 yrs at sea on various boats around the world. From his appearance and voice he reminds me of Sam Elliot, the narrator of 'The Big Lebowski' . 'The Dude abides'
Stuck here til monday, my knee is still playing up. I mentioned how i loved pub quizzes and so did Paul. The bottom line is that on Sunday, for one night only, I will be hosting Dicso Daves Devilish Brainteaser at the bar. So today i will be visiting the Pharmacia to discuss my painful knee, maybe a few minutes by the electric doors of the bank and then compling a quiz for the multinational audience that frequent the bar.
Mon 5th March.
The quiz went down a storm. I have found a decent cafe in P.N. The sun has been shining for the past two days. My leg is getting better thanks to the helpful pharmasist. the Freighter to take me north arrives today. Things are on the up. That being said PN has really grown on me and looking abck now i am very grateful for the past 5 days. It has really allowed me to slow down and get my 'chill on'. I guess, arriving in Chile over two weeks ago from a 100mph job, retirement parties, crazy London weekend, rushing around seeing my children, moving out the fllat, I thought i was at a slow pace upon my arrival but clearly was not. Now however I am in the zone for the next three months. Maybe my knee problems was a reaction to all the stress of the past two months or so at work. Retirement however, is already the best thing i could have done. As a guy in the bar said to me yesterday, "i'm retired. it's the only thing i am good at'. This town has really grown on me. Walking around the lake every morning with the snow capped Andes in the background, the last of the summer sun on my face for this area (we are 51 degress south) and then dropping by my little cafe has made me appreciate how lucky I am. So thanks PN. It's time to move North but I will be back someday.
So, my last night in PN. American pub triva quizzes, are as you can imagine bold, brash and shouting out the answers the loudest. However, I decided to place a small part of America under British rule for the first time in over 200 years. It would be cricket not baseball, trousers and not pants, taps and not fawcetts. Answers to be written down etc. Not sure if it was my marketing campaign (flyers, word of mouth and Twitter) or that is was the only bar open that night but it was packed. The staff were flat out making lasagne that night and the quiz start was put back a couple of times. but hey, there is not rush. time is all we have. Got talking to a lovely young girl from New York. Sarah Garza. She was just finished an acting degree and is exploring South America on the tips she saved from her waitressing job at the Blue Water Grill on 14th nr Union Square. A strange name though as Union Square is in the middle of Manhatten, is nowhere near the water and the water is most definatley not blue. A really great kid with the right attutude to make it all the way to the top of her profession.
So, the quiz was an amazing success and the bar had a good night. As a compromise we had a quick shouting out round at the end for my American friends. For the record the winning team from USA/Oz won with 33 beating a Swiss team by 1 point.
I was wearing my 360 degress T shirt that night. A great ska/funk/regge band from Birmingham who I have seen in Weston s Mare and few times. After the quiz one of the workers asked me about them. so found ther website and we had the band playing in the pub. The marvels of the internet. The crowd inside loved 360 too. Sunday night, quiz, tunes, drink,dancing about, good fun. Perfecto.
So the boat is here. I have playing cards for crib, 3 litres of wine and some picso sour for the 5 day/4 night journey along the amazing coastline of patagonia and the many creaturs that inhabit it, both in the sea and on the land. Next Stop Puerto Montt.
Me gusto tu trabjo.