Puerto Natales. I hopped on a bus north, to the town of Puerto Natales, the traditional jumping off point for treks into Torres del Paine. En route I watched the landscape of Patagonia unfurl past the bus window. Sheep Estancias. Rheas. Off and on rain. Low wind sculpted stands of trees. In Punta Arenas I stayed in a hostel with a nice big window. And since the sun stays out late, I tossed and turned. In Puerto Natales I was shown a smallish, dark windowless room, perfect.  Function > Form.

I set out and found a vegetarian cafe and had a breakfast of coffee and crêpes, followed immediately by veggie burger and a beer. It was noon and I hadn't yet eaten. Sometimes you have to accomplish a lot is a small amount of time.

Next door to this rather stylish vegetarian restaurant was a barbecued lamb place, and I watched with detached amusement as a truck pulled up and unloaded a number of freshly butchered and skinned lamb carcasses right outside of the large front windows, a palpable shudder moved among the various salad eaters in the room. Lamb sounded good but it was too early for dinner.

Natales is a small town, perched on a hill above Ultima Esperanza Sound (aka Last Hope Sound). I found myself drawn down to the waterfront.

There are lots of boats in various states of repair.
Many have been dragged inland from the sound and are either lying derelict, their once bright paint cracking and fading in the sun and wind.
 Some are being rebuilt, and it is interesting to see the shipwright's art.


I walked all the way around town (which doesn't take long) and sat for a while watching the ever changing weather cross the steppes of Patagonia.

 It goes from cloudy and chilly, to bright and sunny in an instant. Sometimes when I take a picture the light will change completely in the space of time it
takes to press the shutter release on the camera.

Copyright Estate of Anthony Vail Sloan 2009