Our first impression as we finally entered the city: what a dump. It's an industrial town, it's dirty and had very little in terms of notable character or scenery. We checked into our hostel and had the very same impression as of the town: a dump, especially considering what we had to pay for it.
The hostel owner had also missed our confirmation email and thus only had room for us for one night instead of our requested two. We took that as a sign to get the hell outta dodge and decided to only spend one night and head to Puerto Natales the next day. Only one day in the dumpy town was necessary in order to take in the number one tourist attraction: PENGUINS!!
There are a few islands off the coast that inhabit Magallenic Penguins - and lots of them! We paid a litlte extra to be ferried across to Isla Magallenes, which holds the most (50,000 breeding pairs). Enduring the choppy waters, spending time in the crappy town and the extra money we paid for it was totally worth it once we got to there!
We only had one hour to spend on the windy island, but despite of the cold, I could have easily stayed all day. There were so many of them it was hard to just watch the happenings of a few before another would capture your attention. We wandered around totally in awe and snapped well over 200 pictures! When the crowd of other tourists ventured farther up the hill to check out the lighthouse, Pete and I took the opportunity to just sit still and watch them: grooming each other, fighting with each other, or just wadding around! The longer we sat still, the less they cared that we were there, and they ventured a little closer. Some would obviously pose for us, or even seemed to flirt a little bit!
We begrudgingly got back on the boat and over to the next island, Isla Marta, to watch a few more penguins, but this time frolicking with the sea lions. We weren't allowed to get off the boat so just spent a few minutes sitting off shore and watching them on the coast. The choppy waters were starting to make some people nauseous and so we didn't stop for long and quickly headed back to shore.
Only a couple of hours left in town and then we were back on another bus for Puerto Natales, about 3 hours north, and this is where Pete and I got smacked with our first real scare of our trip thus far. After we had been off the bus for a couple of hours relaxing in our hostel and then getting ready to go for dinner, it hit us - my purse was left on the bus. It had been wedged between Pete and I and probably fell on the floor so that we totally missed it as we were disembarking. PANIC! We immediately ran the few blocks to where the bus station was, and I held my breath as I asked the receptionist if they had found a black purse on a bus that came in a couple of hours earlier. Thankfully, they had it right there. We were damn lucky, as we would have been pretty messed up if that was gone - it held our passports!
It worked out quite perfectly to be in Puerto Natales a day early - we now have more time to relax and get prepared for what comes next, our three day kayak/camping trip through what is supposed to be the most beautiful national park on the whole continent - Torres del Paine. A few snow flakes fell this morning, which reaffirmed that YES, we are in fact crazy to be doing this. The weather forecast calls for just clouds and sun... here's hoping!