Welcome to Chile, and Northern PatagoniaMarch 28, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C
I crossed the Andes! By bus, between the cities of Mendoza, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile, on March 25, 2019. By lucky chance, I sat in the “panorama seats,” right at the front of the bus, and blessed by clean windows, the mountains unfolded. After a two-hour border crossing (every single bag of every passenger was scanned, in addition to the usual passport/visa checking) we had the real adventure: a series of twenty-four switchbacks called “el caracol,” the snail. Truly terrifying. Check out the video in the photo section, which doesn’t even begin to record the experience.
After a few hours in the main bus terminal in Santiago (a highlight was a large plate of vegetables for dinner) I was on an overnight bus south to Puerto Montt in the Lake District, and just north of the beginning of Northern Patagonia. In Chile, Patagonia is divided into north and south; for this trip, I decided to limit myself to the northern section.
Puerto Montt has an interesting history—as a specially designated sector for German immigrants in the 1800’s, and as leading producer of farmed salmon. Now it’s the capital of the the Los Lagos Region, and an important administrative center in southern Chile. For more information, see this link:
I stayed with an excellent Airbnb family, who originally hailed from Antofagasta in the very north of Chile. Mariana, the wife, kept getting teary-eyed when she saw me, as I evidently greatly resemble her late grandmother. Rodrigo, the husband, was the handsomest man I’ve seen in a long time—an ex-army officer. They looked after me with great care and affection AND we had very interesting conversations as well.
On my own, I planned my travels, walked around the small city, took care of business—such as getting a Chilean SIM card—and took a hike on the island of Tenglo, which is just across a narrow canal. A very fine welcome to Chile.
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