Very anticlimactic, but there it is.
Luis dropped me off in front of a ship that did not exactly match the floater I had concocted in my mind to go to Puerto Williams. For some reason I didn't expect the kind of ferry that took cars, containers and only a few people. Well, I was greeted by the friendly sailors on board and even introduced to the captain before I was led to the economy class, which is basically a chair and not a bed, as in first class. Slowly, a few more people showed up on board, but I didn't have any high expectations as this ferry was going to a town in the Antarctic region of Chile during mid-April. Well, about 4 more people showed up, and, in a very un-Chilean fashion, we left five minutes early to embark on our adventure.
A very funny thing was developing here. It was very obvious that three of us were tourists and were not going to Puerto Williams to visit our family or to work, or whatever it is that they do in Puerto Williams. Thanks to my bastardly new MP3 player, I didn't really pay attention to my two traveling companions, which was exactly what I was trying to avoid. The first dinner was spent with each seated at their own table. However, number 1 and I took advantage of the good weather on deck and dragged out our obnoxiously large cameras. We got to talking and I discovered that Alfredo was a film student from Santiago taking a little vacation and bringing his work with him, hence the expensive looking tripod. This would become a ritual of ours. As soon as we saw something crazy awesome outside, we would bundle up and drag our baggage outside to record the moment each in our preferred medium. One thing led to another and we ate breakfast together the next morning, no longer inhabiting separate tables in the un-crowded lunchroom.
The ship rode the swells of the open sea the first night. I was up about every hour, freaking out that this was the end. This not being the case, I survived the night with only a severe lack of sleep. Therefore, we were up well before sunrise this morning, but unfortunately it was so cloudy that Alfredo and I had little success in our ritual. Yet there we were, braving the frigid cold and the salt spray. Number 2, our other traveling companion joined us and, inevitably, we also got to talking. Turns out Jean Phillipe is a French-Canadian officer on a merchant ship from Quebec and has a delicious French accent. Our young French aristocrat had absolutely no problem sleeping last night. I was more than just a little jealous, but still very attentive to learn more about him, even if just to listen to him talk to me in his delectable accent.
What an eclectic group we were. By lunch these two charming young gentlemen and I formed a quiet group of meal companions. And by charming, I really do mean charming. They had wonderful manners that were nothing short of cavalier. For example, when I finished eating, I would just leave the table. They on the other hand would always wait until I was finished before they moved even an inch. These little things had just been absent from my life for quite some time that seeing these manners was just thrilling. I sometimes didn’t know quite how to react.
Later that afternoon, I had entirely given up on seeing cool stuff as we were cruising through bad weather. JP beckoned me over just as I was settling in for a much needed siesta. Am I glad he did! We passed by an absolutely gorgeous blue glacier sitting on top of a cliff face. I snapped as many pictures as I could before we passed it, but soon there was the next glacier spreading widely into the sea. This continued until it started misting over. I sadly returned to my neglected nap to catch some shut eye before dinner.
The ferry was due to arrive in Puerto Williams at 1 AM. However, we were not obliged to disembark at this hour. We were permitted to stay on the ferry until 8 AM the next morning. Nevertheless, one of the crew woke us and said that we were anchoring and we could get off now. We all squinted at him with sleepy eyes responding in mumbled Spanish with mixed accents that we would be getting off at 8 AM, thank you very much. No problem. We all turned around and went back to sleep until leaving the next morning after a soundless night of sleep as the ferry remained anchored in the calm water of the bay.
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