Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our Honeymoon - Day 13 - Serrano Glacier to Natales Boat Trip and back to Punta Arenas

Today we finished our kayak trip with a boat ride from the Serrano Glacier back to Puerto Natales.  On the way we were treated to both whiskey with glacial ice from the glacier we had just paddled to as well as an amazing traditional Chilean lamb feast.  From Puerto Natales we then traveled by bus back to Punta Arenas for a New Years celebration at the bottom of the world.  Click the title to read on... 

Today was absolutely amazing.  We got to sleep in until about 10am because we had already kayaked the Serrano Glacier the night before.  This worked out great as it rained all night and late into the morning.  Brook and her family headed up with their boats and also had calm winds out on the glacial lake.  Rob cooked us some scrambled eggs and we had a great breakfast with tea juice, jam and bread.  A couple more tour groups came in the morning before our boat arrived around 11am.  

We packed up our gear, loaded the kayaks onto the first boat of two that showed up to take us all to Puerto Natales, and got one last look of the Serrano Glacier before we left the docks.  As we pulled away we had great views back towards the peak and the glaciers pouring down it, including the Balmaceda Glacier that poured down from a valley further to the south that we couldn't see the day before.  

The boat ride was nice and we got to know the other family that Brook had guided on a day trip down the Serrano.  It was a father and son and stepmother from Kansas.  Kenny was the son and Karen was the mom and Ken was the dad (the McChesney’s).  They gave us advice on Costa Rica and told us about some of their other travels in the Patagonia region.  About 20 minutes into the boat ride the mates walked around with glasses of whiskey with glacier ice they had gathered from the Serrano Glacier.  This was the one thing I really wanted to do before leaving and had mentioned it to Rob the day before who happily told me I would get my wish.  

It was then about an hour trip until we came to a small ranch on the side of the sea where we stopped for the most delicious lamb feast we had ever had.  They started with a beef barley soup and salad and gave each of us a large glass of red wine.  Outside the windows of the large room we could see sheep dogs herding the sheep with gauchos on horses as well.   On the way in we had seen a large kitchen where they were slow roasting all the meat for our feast and when they brought out the first tray of stacked meat on a warm grill my jaw dropped.  

It was literally piles of fresh Patagonian lamb, chicken and chorizo sausage.  I ordered Rob and I both another large glass of wine for just a couple more bucks each while Emily worked on her first.  I was then shocked when our hosts brought yet another giant platter of meat to our table.  I've never tasted better lamb and chicken than at that meal and I ate until I couldn't put anything more in my stomach.  They finished the meal off for us with a peach in bowl for desert which was perfect.  

After watching a gaucho give horse rides to some of the guests we then left our hosts on the boats again with them waving happily from the docks.  On the way out we watched as he herded some sheep with the help of dogs into a large barn.  Apparently, they do that meal once a day every day during the summer.  I can't imagine how many lamb and chickens they go through doing so.  Our boat ride from there to Natales was another hour or so and thankfully the wind was calm enough for us to sit out on the upper deck of the boat and look for sea life and chat.  

When I first went out I caught a quick glimpse of a porpoise or dolphin jump out of the water, but otherwise just saw seabirds.  It was pleasant to chat with Rob on the way in who clearly also had an interest in skiing and the mountains outside of his passion for boating and we got his email and facebook info to connect when we get back to the states as his plans for next year are to settle down back to school in Vancouver, BC, not too far from us.  

When we arrived back in Natales around 6pm we tipped Rob with all we had.  This was a little dumb as it forced us to walk a few blocks to an atm again for cab fare on our bus ride to Punta Arenas at 8pm.  We got a ride from the docks back to Dittmar where we picked up our gear we had left there.  We also stopped at a grocery store called Carnes Natales as we were out of deodorant and after 5 days in the woods smelled a bit ripe.  We also bought some chocolate and red wine for New Years Eve.  From there it was a short cab ride to the bus station where we loaded onto Buses Fernandez for our 3 hour ride south to Punta Arenas where we would check into La Estancia and spend New Years Eve.  

It was a little tricky finding La Estancia as the bus simply stopped at the bus station in Punta Arenas and nobody was around to help us find a cab.  Thankfully, we found some locals who told us we were just a 5 block walk away from it.  When we found our place everyone inside was sitting down and eating dinner (an amazing holiday seafood bake dinner we later found out).  Alejandro, the owner, let us in and showed us to our room with a private bath upstairs.  This was the most like a hostel that we had been in yet but our room with big down covers was very comfortable.  

To the disdain of Emily I rushed her through a shower while I caught up on some email and Facebook posts so we could head downtown to experience New Years Eve in Punta Arenas.  We left with a group of other backpackers from the hostel and walked downtown with about 5 minutes to spare.  There were thousands of people crowding the street on the seafront with loud music playing and confetti flying everywhere.  We didn't understand much that was being said but could figure out when the countdown began.  

There were some decent fireworks and everyone seemed to be having a grand time.  Odd to have New Years in the middle of summer here.  When the fireworks ended and everyone seemed to be dispersing we headed back to the hostel so Emily could put on something warmer.  We headed out and walked a few blocks expecting to see a cool bar to check out but everything was completely closed.  By then it was 2am and we decided to give up and head back to the hostel to finish some wine and chocolate we had bought before leaving Natales.

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