I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Sunday, May 20, 2018

You could be anywhere

In the Plaza de Armas in downtown Punta Arenas, there's a park with a statue of Magellan, surrounded by large trees and vendors selling handicrafts (not surprisingly, there were a lot more warm hats for sale than you usually find in the summer.) The old mansions around the square are now mostly private clubs or museums.

Away from the center of town though, the streets look like this -- you could be almost anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. Tourists pass through Punta Arenas on their way to the Patagonian parks, or Tierra del Fuego, or Antarctica, but there's no reason to linger. As one of my shipmates put it, “When the number one attraction on Trip Advisor is the cemetery, you know there's not much to see there.”

It does feel very far away from the rest of Chile. I went to the supermarket looking for cough drops -- I had a cold -- and fruit. I found cough drops, but the limited selection of fruit was a shock after the lush produce for sale everywhere in Santiago and Valparaiso -- tiny shriveled apples and brown bananas. Even at the hotel, the fruit on the breakfast buffet was all canned. Chile sends so much produce to North America during our winters, but somehow can't manage to supply its own south coast.

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