Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yo Ho Ho and Where's the Rum?

By crikey, these Chileños could teach the polynesians a thing or two about time keeping! "Island time" has nothing on the Chileño timetable, let me tell you.

So there I was, waiting out the rain in Puerto Aisen til 4pm-ish. Made it to the port at Chacabuco by half past, thinking I may be late (the lady had said 4 after all), but the door didn't open til 5, then I had to wait ages while the locals were processed for tickets before being told I had to go to the port entrance and get a docket for my bike before they could sell me a ticket for the boat. (Side note: in Coyhaique I was under the impression I had been told to go and talk to a woman called Alejandrina at the Chacabuco port. It was only part way through the afternoon that someone in Aisen told me Alejandrina was the name of the boat. Doh!)
Still, tickets bought for the 6pm sailing that actually boarded at 7pm and left at half 7. OK so far, still not certain about the duration of the voyage though. The people in the office had said variously 27 hours or 24 hours (Clive Barrow in NZ had told be 18 - 24 hours as far as he remembered), and people on board (surely the ones who should know, right?) told me 30, 32 and 36 hours depending who I asked and who had seen the most recent weather report. As the time ticked by, I became aware that we were not headed directly to Quellon on Isla de Chiloe, but were meandering through the islands picking up and dropping off locals at remote fishing villages. We were also dropping anchor and waiting quite a bit, which was apparently due to high winds and rough seas. The B-movies were showing thick and fast on the TVs, in a combination of English with Spanish subtitles, or just straight Spanish, and were of a highly dubious quailty, by which I mean even I struggled to watch them, they were so bad (and no, Hugh, sadly no Steven Segal movies, despite crossed fingers. Bad though the movies were, they never got that bad!).
The boat finally docked in Quellon 44 1/2 hours after leaving Chacabuco. On the positive side, it gave me time to dry all my soaking gear, dry the tank bags and patch them with the last of my duct tape. On the negative side, I had just spent 44 1/2 hours on a boat going gradually more insane by the minute.
It was about 3pm by now, so off I set north, stopping briefly in a town called Castro on Isla de Chiloe before heading on to yet another boat to get off the island. This time it was just a half hour shuttle ferry though, and the boat was arriving as I pulled into the port and left 20 mins later, so not such a trial this time. Off at Pargua and on to Puerto Montt, deciding not to stop there and finally getting to Puerto Varras for a well earned sleep in a proper bed. Tomorrow was to see me arrive in Bariloche to have time off until Rich materialised again, and hopefully to catch up with a fellow tourist I had met in Uruguay. Remember the friendly Canadian? I did...
But that chapter can wait for the next entry, otherwise this will break all records for length and probably leave you feeling like you had been on a 44 1/2 hour voyage as well, so go take a breather and then come back for the next bit. Oh, and don't forget to check the latest photos. Theres about another 200 or so. Good luck.

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