We slept well and awoke to the sound of wind whipping the windows of our room. We had he whole day to spend in El Calafate before our bus back to Chile at 4.30 that afternoon so we took our time showering, eating breakfast, and packing our things. While packing, Doug realized we had accidentally bought bus tickets to get us to the airport tomorrow for the wrong day and so we headed into town to accomplish that first and then see what else El Calafate had to keep us occupied. The day was much colder than it had been yesterday, and the strong wind made us both put on extra layers before continuing. Along the way we found two dogs playing in the street and fed them a bit of apple. They did not care for it.
We made for the bus station where the ticket man was very adamant that we could not exchange our tickets and would have to buy new ones. We expected this would be the case and were fine with it, but no matter what we responded with he would get more and more aggressive in saying that we couldn’t exchange them. All of this was in Spanish so we think something was being lost in translation. Finally we managed to get it across and his attitude completely changed and he got us new tickets. They only took cash, so we once again embarked on a ATM crawl through town trying to find one with some money available in it.
After bus tickets we headed down towards the lake where Lynn had read there was a nature reserve we could walk through. We got down there and as we came out of the cover of neighborhoods and onto the lake front we were hit with the full force of the wind. It just about knocked us sideways and we had to walk at a slight angle to stay on a straight course.
The reserve charged more than we thought was an appropriate amount of money, especially because a public boardwalk ran along the side of it the whole way. We chose to walk the length of the boardwalk instead and for the next hour and a half were left to wonder why there were really no buildings along this very nice lakefront and boardwalk. Perhaps it was always this windy?
After our walk we made for lunch of one of three La Lechuza restaurants in town, figuring that if they were popular enough to warrant three in a small town like El Calafate it must be pretty good. The restaurant was gladly quite warm thanks to the wood fired pizza oven and we ate some decent pizzas while listening to a Tennessee accented table of Americans with some amusement (“What the fuck is calabrese?”)
After lunch we stopped for ice cream (of course) before heading back to retrieve our bags and returning to the bus station. Our six hour bus ride back to Chile was pretty uneventful. Occassionally a loud group of men up front would get a bit too boisterous or spill a large bottle of water all over the floor and someone was playing a game quite loudly on their phone but it wasn’t too bad. The border checkpoints could also fit the whole bus-full of people inside the building and out of the cold unlike on the way to El Calafate, so we were quite pleased about that.
We pulled back into Puerto Natales around 9.30 an would be spending the night here before continuing the last three hours to Punta Arenas in the morning (with our newly re-purchased bus tickets) and we walked a significantly further distance than advertised to our hostel in town (it had claimed to be near the bus station but turned out to be no nearer than anything else in town). The place was nice though, and more importantly quiet. It appeared to be a woman’s home that she just made a few rooms available to guests in. We managed to check in and converse in some broken Spanish, letting her know we would be leaving early for our 7 am bus and then headed out to find dinner.
We went back to the brewpub we had been to previously, assured that at least the food their was decent unlike many of the other places we had eaten as of late. That and Doug had a hankering for something salty after watching the group of loud men on the bus pass a family size bag of Lays around for the past six hours. We ordered a hamburger with salty fries for Doug, a salad for Lynn, and also spotted hot wings on the menu and ordered a dozen of them. They were much better than wherever we had eaten them before and they came with honey mustard for dipping which, while novel to us, was quite delicious.
After dinner we turned in quickly, having another early day tomorrow for the final few legs of our trip back to Santiago.
Daily Walking Mileage : 10.5 miles
- El Calafate is named for a small yellow flower that grows in the mountains nearby. Lynn had asked at this at some point during the day and Doug was quite pleased he knew the answer right away, having read it on a brochure the day before.
- Only one bus company of the seven or eight in town run a bus from El Calafate back to Puerto Natales on Mondays. Their fares, which are double everyone else’s, imply they are well aware of this fact.
- You are not allowed to bring fruit across the border of Argentina and Chile. This resulted in a lot of free bananas given away by people who could not possibly eat all they had brought before we crossed the border. Lynn and I each ate one.