Port Montt, 7 February 2020
Look at the road.
It’s been running straight ahead for days. A motorway without barriers. Now and then someone crosses it, and at regular intervals, the bus stops. So many places to see. But we have to hurry. The programme has slipped and to catch up we will embark motorbikes and vans on the ‘Naviera Austral‘ boat.
At 20:30 we are in Port Montt.
On the quayside, there were trucks, cars, coloured vans, and motorbikes. And more backpackers, families, and tourists on bicycles. I wonder if the small boat will hold all that weight. The wait is long, first, the motorbikes go up and last the vans. We cross a tongue of sea skirting the mainland, past islets and inlets.
At 23:00 the departure.
The wind picks up, the cold sets in, and the bridge slowly empties. I stay a little longer. Lonely silhouettes wander in the moonlit night. My eyes begin to close, I go look for my seat. The heavy door slams behind me, someone is snoring in the warmth of the large armchairs.
I pass the bar counter and the long queue waiting for its turn. The aroma of coffee and hot sandwiches fills the room. TVs show different films and children watch them passionately. The lights are off and with difficulty I find my companions squinting in the dark.
I fall asleep, lulled by the calm crossing. Dawn surprises us, intense, like this land still unknown to me. It is eight o’clock in the morning and after nine hours the boat docks in Chaytén.
A new road opens up, the Carretera Austral, the gateway to Chilean Patagonia.