We might as well be in Palisade, the chalk cliffs rising steadily in the backdrop, desert beacon against a crisp sky, or, wait, maybe this town is actually a Chilean Boulder, row after row after row of cutesy coffee shops and sandwich shops, all wired, please, with contraseñas boasting the name of the restaurant.
Either way, Puerto Natales is stinking cute.
No matter that for whatever reason, we walk ourselves into concentric circles of confusion, our sense of direction gone to shit here, despite grid system, centrally-located hotel and otherwise well-indicated streets.
Every turn is a left turn, a pain in the ass if you’re trying to get somewhere, but, lucky for us, getting lost is a perfectly appropriate destination, one certainly exacerbated by the fact that our direction-asking-and-comprehension skills are still a WIP, for our approach is two-fold:
Graham inquires using his fresh-off-the-tapes travel Spanish, and I interpret. It’s a tag team effort of understanding how two lefts still make a wrong turn, and wading through the Chileno accent is no picnic, for, no offense, this is the densest, thickest Spanish accent to hit my ears, even more disorienting than the Argentinian ch-ch-ch for the ll-ll-ll, pollo becoming pocho.
The Chileans, it turns out, eat their words and speak garble a bazillion miles per hour, meaning that just when I think I know what word they might be starting to pronounce, they’re already ten sentences ahead. But, come the end of the day and with dead-lock vision on eyeballs and mouths, we actually decipher enough to realize that we’ve been right next to the church the whole time, our hotel literally around the corner from this tiny town’s most famous landmark.
Or, maybe it’s because Google’s army of satellites has yet to properly index Puerto Natales, still a bleep of grey squares and boxes on our various iDevices.
Losing ourselves for the day, however, gives us the best surprise yet–a magical tour of this waterfront town at sunset, for Puerto would, after all, indicate some sort of port activity.
I like this town and its tourist trap of restaurants and gear shops, its architecture fresh and mountainy and quaint and walkable, overpriced, yes, but definitely a nice joint to lose oneself for a day or two.
Welcome to Patagonia, bitches!