5 Days in Natales

There’s nothing worse than wishing you were writing rather than hiking. After a solid six-months of movement circling the globe, I reached this point on my Torres del Paine circuit. Thankfully I was only a day and a half from the end when this feeling struck. The thought of not hiking I added a sense of urgency to my strides as I made my way back to the boat, the bus and then back to my adopted home at Erratic Rock.

For the next five days I would be a tourist. One town, one hostel, no movement. I would somehow turn off the travel engine and just idle for a while and Natales seemed like a good place.

Day 1. Awakening to the staccato beat of rain against the window by the bed made me glad I wasn’t in the tent. Not much motivation comes from starting the day wet, but I was now on “vacation” from my vacation. The simple yet filling breakfast served to all guests at the rock got me headed in the right direction. I spent the first few hours of the day conversing with a Brit with similar background and ambition to my own. Sort of like a mutual pep-talk into a mirror. From there it was sorting thru my gear to organize my meager possessions into two piles; clean, relatively odor-free and YIKES. The ever evolving Patagonian weather brought hourly cycles of sun, wind and rain throughout the process. I headed out for a longer exploration of the town and found many interesting nooks and crannies to warrant return trips.

By mid-afternoon I was busy researching flights and catching up on emails to friends and then settling down to pen some deeper thoughts that had come to me while hiking. I’ve found stomping trails somehow releases some pretty deep thoughts in me. I call it the “acorn effect”. Acorns don’t germinate and produce new oak trees unless fired at incredibly high heat and “cracked”. Hiking with a loaded backpack up insanely steep passes has the same effect on me.  I literally “crack” and am suddenly freed to start thinking more creatively, my mind wandering much farther and faster than when I’m “uncracked”.  It’s probably endorphins or some such, but I’m no scientist, I just know I like the feeling.

I had scouted out this micro-brewery in town upon my arrival and the local scuttlebutt reported that they knew how to construct a decent burger, so off I went. Within ten minutes of hitting the door I was joined by a fellow “rocker” from England and we shared the night. Burgers and beers were both outstanding and will undoubtedly lead to a repeat performance.

Back at the hostel, the internet was flowing with songs and videos as five of us burned the late-night oil creating an interesting “round-table” of thoughts and opinions, with its own sound track.

A long but filling day of doing not much at all.

Day 2. The day began with a start. I usually sleep with this carabineer clock in my hand. The timepiece has been great and sleeping with it in hand has allowed me to sleep more. So after the late night last night I awoke and checked the time to find it was 9am. Somehow I had slept eight straight hours.  Since they stop serving breakkie at nine-thirty, I rushed downstairs to find almost everyone still asleep. Somehow I had changed the time on my clock and it was only 6:30am. Since I was already up, I just sat down for breakfast and called it a night. Spent the morning hunting thru the internet trying to find a cheaper route back home and a way to fit in more sites in the time I have remaining. My afternoon was filled walking the town and picking up some provisions for lunch. Ate dinner in tonight, opting for a cheeseburger at the outfitter store next door, run by the brother of Erratic Rock founder Bill.