Puerto Montt is…an interesting place. We were pretty much stranded there for about five days, with little to do.
I blogged already about how we had no way out of town for several days already, as well as our first attempt at a tour out of the city and up north, into lake country.
That night, when we returned to Puerto Montt, we ran into several people stuck in Puerto Montt like us: two Dutch travelers who were waiting for a replacement passport, an American who was waiting for weather to clear up, and a few others who were waiting for buses. We also ran into more difficulty.
In gist, we:
- Had a very difficult time understanding the accents here.
- Tried to get cash from an ATM and had the ATM eat your card–the only way we could withdraw cash.
- The next day, went to the ATM’s bank and ask for our card back. Got told they will look for it the next day.
- Paid for food and a hostel, and had almost no cash left.
- Find out our credit card didn’t work anymore either.
- Convinced our parents to wire us money through Western Union so we would be able to pay for a hostel.
- Realized that the money/card problems have filled our day so we can’t leave the city today or probably tomorrow to see the sights.
- Hope our bank can send us a new debit card in Bolivia in time. Hope the mail in Bolivia actually works. Hope the money our parents sent arrives and will last for three weeks (or until new card comes).
So after we regrouped and decided to face the problem as a team, Jordan made dinner and I called our bank. I probably spent 15 USD talking on the phone with our bank (USAA) but it was worth it. We got the debit cards completely cancelled and new ones shipped to Bolivia. We got our credit cards fixed and able to withdraw cash from ATMs, and then had the whole next day to go on a tour.
So we booked a tour through Ruta Austral excursions or some such place, and that didn’t go well either. It was to see the large island of Chiloe, supposedly a very gorgeous place. The tour company swore up and down there weren’t any other hidden charges, so we went ahead and booked. I asked the tour guide to speak slowly (they really do have thick accents here–imagine New Jersey on the edge of civilization).
But then the bus to pick us up was an hour and a half late. And there was construction on the hour-trip to the island. By this time I seriously had to go to the bathroom. Like, really bad. This “forty minutes until a bathroom” turned into over an hour. And suddenly, a mile away from the ferry to get on the island, traffic halted. And didn’t move. And then Jordan had to use the restroom and I had to go so badly my whole abdomen was cramping (Sorry for anyone who hates bodily functions. Just be glad I haven’t blogged about throwing up in the back of our host’s car in Mendoza).
In the end, to make a long story short, the guide opened the bus doors and let everyone mill around on the side of the road. I decided taking a hike in the woods was an excellent idea, and we never go anywhere without a roll of toilet paper (true story), so I was prepared. Jordan and I hiked up a hill, but the line of trees was pretty thin, and I really didn’t want an audience. So we hiked farther, until I found a nice Chilean farmer’s house. I should’ve taken a picture. It was a small, rural place, and I gathered up my gumption and called out to anyone in the house.
A mother and 10-year-old daughter came out, and I asked if I could use their bathroom. They went back inside and began conferring with the father. The walls were pretty thin, so I could hear the whole conversation going on inside. They finally opened the door, beckoned me in, and pointed down the hallway to their bathroom. It was very small and had just a curtain covering it instead of a door, and no seat. I thanked them and left to find Jordan, who had found a nice patch of trees. And somehow this whole post has been about my bathroom adventure, which it wasn’t supposed to be, so I’ll move the story along.
After another two hours of waiting, the bus turned around and went back to Puerto Montt. All in all, we waited from 7:45 am and returned to town at 2:45 pm. I haggled, and we got our money back for the failed tour. I’m not sure if the town is cursed or we are.
We were able to couchsurf our last night in town, which kept costs a little lower. And we did make our bus out of Puerto Montt down to Punta Arenas okay. I’m just gunshy of returning to Puerto Montt in five days!