03.03.2013 - 03.04.2013
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This ended up being the longest "day" of the trip. When researching this type of travel I was advised to take the slow way sometimes and mix up the mode of transport so I have been working my way north on the continent without the aide of flight. Since I put in 13 hours in a bus on a bumpy road yesterday I figured I might as well try something a little more routine and easier ... a ferry. I was told this ferry leaves at 10 AM and gets to Puerto Montt around the reasonable hour of 7 PM, which is essentilly the beginning of civilization after experiencing the isolation of the Carretera Austral and Patagonia. This is how it went:
I spent the night in Chaiten and since I didn't have much time in Chaiten, I got up early and walked to the waters edge. It was foggy but kind of interesting.
Being Sunday in Chile, everything was shut down. I got ready for a 10 AM ferry ride walking over for 9 as advised. The ferry was not there when I got to the dock at 9:15 and it subsequently arrived at 9:30. After letting off passengers and cars it was after 10. Then instead of letting us on it closed up doors and went offshore.
The personnel said the tide was too low and to come back at 1:30. On my travels it seems like this type of delay has been a constant. I have gotten better at dealing with it but it still makes no sense to me how almost nothing goes to plan. I would have guessed 80% would go somewhat to plan but I am not experiencing close to that! I am thankful though for the busride yesterday along the Carretera Austral being one of the things that went fairly well. That could have easily been an extra day or two and if you miss something in this part of the world, it could mean being stranded an extra 3 or 4 days!
With the extra time in Chaiten I hung out a bit with some of the travelers from the hostel and also went and explored the part of town damaged by the 2008 volcanic eruption. The government tried to relocate the city but the residents would have none of it so Chaiten still exists today. However, the severely affected area is a 10 minute walk from the center of town.
I boarded the ferry at 1:45 and it disembarked at 2:30 but did not pull away from the harbour until 3. It was foggy so I went inside and read a book. It started clearing at 4 and was spectacular to be on the open water as the coasts on either side formed out of ether.
After awhile, there were the occasional whale spouting as well as geese and seagulls flying around. The ferry kept going until about 7:30 and when it approached Ayacara, a tiny community about 40 percent up the coast on our journey.
Even at this time I knew we would not get in by midnight but concensus still thought 11 or midnight. However, the ferry decided to stop in Ayacara. I guess this is normal but I did not see it on the ferry route. However, instead of going to shore it sat in the middle of the bay and sent the tender to shore and must have made several trips to collect passengers. This took over an hour and I noticed myself feeling anxious knowing how much longer we had still to go. I still knew I had lodging to find and others seemed to be in the same predicament but there is nothing that could be done. Still a bit anxious I tried to make the best of it, enjoying the sunset.
After that, I went inside and talked to someone from Santiago for awhile. I even got a bit of sleep! At some point the captain announced we'd be getting to Puerto Montt at 12:30. However, I have heard these estimates before and none have been correct. This one wasn't either. We got to the harbour at 1:45, off the boat at 2:00, to the terminal at 2:15, and the baggage collection process took an hour ...
People recommended sleeping in the terminal as it was too late to get lodging so with about 30 others I slept on some chairs in the ferry terminal. The crazy part is I got a few hours of sleep. Then at 7 I walked with a few people to the bus station and got a 10 mile busride to the more managable lakeside town of Puerto Varas where I await my room to be ready. I had some breakfast and met some nice people so far though.
I am not sure the details but this marks a break in the travel for me. I plan to stay in the lakes region for some time as constant travel especially with uncertain connections and lodging is really draining.