Chile

A weekend in Punta Arenas

Nikki’s friend Rodolfo’s friend Ronald put us up for three fun nights in Punta Arenas, “the largest city south of the 46th parallel south”. We were dropped on the side of the road on the outskirts of town by Mario #2 on a Friday afternoon, and the first thing I did when we got into town was draw money (very pretty, colourful Monopoly money in denominations of 1,000 Chilean pesos). I mention this only because it took me three tries and caused a wave of nauseating panic. Free tip: select “foreign client” when trying to draw cash in Chile. Oh and, a new country, a new plug-adapter adventure, of course.

punta arenas chile

The first of many completas

While we waited for Rodolfo I had the famous Chilean completo (a hot dog), which is nothing like the Argentinian milanesa completa (a delicious, flat, crumbed piece of beef). The latter wins as far as I’m concerned but you daren’t be honest about that in Chile. See also: fernet versus pisco. Argentinians never seemed terribly fond of Chilenos. The feeling, it turns out, is mutual.

That night we drank wine out of giant glasses with Rodolfo and Ronald – it was my first foray into Chilean wine and I can confidently say that after nearly four months of trying I have not had a single glass of bad wine in this fine country. Everything you’ve heard about Chilean wine is true. We also rocked the karaoke that night; no, not out in a bar, right there in Ronald’s livingroom. The two Rs introduced me to three of my favourite Latin American rock songs, in order of preference: Sin Documentos by Los Rodríguez (from Argentina), En El Muelles de San Blas by Maná (a terribly un-hip band, I was later informed by a Chileno in Santiago, but oh, what a chorus) and Mino by Los Bunkers (Chileans who relocated to Mexico).

… Long story short, unknown songs in foreign tongues were belted out, many precious bottles of wine were cracked (Ronald is a collector) and 1X Rodolfo eventually passed out on the couch.

But the festivities had only just begun. Next day we went for an early lunch at Rodolfo’s cousin’s house. An early lunch where the eating and drinking didn’t stop, not even when the dancing started, and the brave ones (not I) eventually went out at about 2am. That day they marinated more salmon than I have ever seen and yes, I ate it.

One does not simply turn down home-made, Chilean ceviche (right, Craig?).

punta arenas salmon ceviche

Rodolfo preparing the ceviche marinade

punta arenas

Red onion, parsley, red and green pepper, lemon juice, possibly also spring onion

punta arenas salmon ceviche

Hi my name is Ingrid and I was seafood-free for one year, two months and 17 days

And once I put the salmon in my mouth, a floodgate opened. Nikki had to hold me back. It was emotional.

And once I put the salmon in my mouth, a floodgate opened. Nikki had to hold me back. It was emotional.

Damn, it was good.

punta arenas

Hours later …

punta arenas

… the dancing started

On Sunday I bought me some legit Chilean hippie pants from a legit Mapuche dude at a street stall and we were treated to an air show – Punta Arenas is a base for the Chilean Air Force and both Rs work as technicians (?) for said air force. The crowd seemed quite into it. In hindsight, that display of military prowess was an interestingly appropriate introduction to the contradiction that is Chile.

The morning after the night before

The morning after the night before

Legit Mapuche selling legit hippie stuff. I got pants for three luka (CLP3,000 or about R60)

Legit Mapuche selling legit hippie stuff. I got pants for three luka (CLP3,000 or about R60)

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Chilean Air Force showing off with choppers.

Chilean Air Force showing off with choppers.

There were also some fast Top Gun-style jets throwing tricks in the sky

There were also some fast Top Gun-style jets throwing tricks in the sky

After lunch the weather cleared and we went for a walk through the town, through the very striking municipal cemetery, and that evening Nikki and I prepared the meal before we sat down for a movie, all in Spanish, which I only followed because it was an animated children’s story.

On Ronald's wall in his house. Top Gun, anyone?

On Ronald’s wall in his house: “For Joker. Who welcomed us on the wings of his home and gave us an explosion of hospitality. From your comrades, Quincy, Verdugo [Executioner], Zeus and Viejo Zorro [Old Fox]”

freddie mercury

Freddie is dead. Long live Freddie

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Ever notice how much Chile's flag looks like the flag of Texas? Just saying.

Ever notice how much Chile’s flag looks like the flag of Texas? Just saying.

punta arenas

punta arenas cemetary (9)

Check out more photos of the cemetery here – they came out quite nicely.

punta arenas

I hadn’t planned on going through Punta Arenas at all, but the spoils of my spontaneity was made all the sweeter by the generosity of our hosts … and the ceviche.

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5 thoughts on “A weekend in Punta Arenas

  1. Pingback: Crosses: A cemetery in Punta Arenas | cape/caracas

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  4. Pingback: All roads lead to Machu Picchu / Machupicchu / Machu Pikchu | cape/caracas

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