Traveling is always an adventure and very seldom does everything go according to plan. One way to avoid this disappointment is by not planning. We have now tried both approaches…
Number 999 (Punta Arenas)
We arrived in Punta Arenas, Chile at about 8pm after a long bus ride from El Calafate, Argentina and an amazing time in EL Chalten. Our reservation was for a family room in a hostal at 999 Mejicana Street. Loaded with our backpacks and following the GPS arrow we started our 15 minute walk to out accommodation. After about 45 minutes, we found Mejicana Street, but number 999 evaded us. We went up and down the street twice, three times – over a rail crossing – through back alleys – but for some reason there was no number 999. Finally, after another 30 minutes of searching in the clearly dodgy neighbourhood we saw the triangular building on the road-rail corner that had only a door-width presence on Calle Mejicana. This was number 999. This was not looking good.
We knocked a couple of times, and finally a man opened the door about two inches, peering at us with a frown, but not getting up from his chair. He just shook his head with a stern “no”. We showed him our AirBnB booking confirmation email, but that seemed to irritate him even more than our late-night door knocking. He just shooed us away telling us in Spanish that his house was full, and that AirBnB was not the owner. We were shocked – how could he do that? Leaving us literally out in the cold. But we were also pretty relieved! What we saw through the crack in the door and the thought of having to go in and spend a night there made us all cringe.
So we resumed our hunt for six beds at around 10pm, on foot and still carrying heavy backpacks. We walked a few blocks further and found a lovely hostel (very close to where we got off the bus!). We all squished into a small room with three beds, but for one night that was heaven. At least we had a safe, clean place to spend the night and best of all, it included breakfast.
Easter Weekend accommodation (Puerto Varas)
It is impossible to find a place to stay for six people on short notice over a long weekend in Puerto Varas (or probably in any other place in the world). Even in a region with hundreds of cabins, when we wanted to extend our stay, we could not find a place available and within our budget. Our alternative? Get on the next available bus to any town that seems remotely interesting and that has accommodation. We landed in Pucon after purchasing six bus tickets minutes before the five our trip started.
A miscommunication in Pucon
We clambered off the bus after 10 PM!!! We were so tired. Some of us fell asleep on the bus (including me). Dad took a few minutes to figure out where we were. Just then the wind started howling. Whoosh!!!!! Dust and sand flew into our faces, and bodies, dust in our eyes. It was horrible. When Dad tried to call the lady of our accommodation, we found she could not speak, nor understand a word of English. We tried our best Spanish. All we could make out was “opposite a grocery store”. We walked and walked until our legs ached, on and on. The street name we were walking on was Variante International. The lady finally called her brother that could speak and understand a little bit of English. He told us that he would come to pick us up and take us to the house we would stay in. He said the car is a white Suzuki. We squinted our eyes. Suddenly we started to wave our arms, because we spotted the white Suzuki. There was a man and a woman. The man told us that the kids and Mum should ride in the car, while Dad and he walked. The whole time we were on the wrong road!!! We were on Variante International and our house was on Camino International. We entered a community of black and white homes. There were more than one hundred!!! We were in house number thirty-one. It was the boys’ turn to choose their room. They chose the big room with two single beds, so Kali and I was to sleep in the small room. In this room there was only one bed. Luckily it was a trundle bed. There was a little gap just big enough for half a mattress. I slept on the floor for four nights. It was very, very dirty and they left a toothbrush in the bathroom.
– Eulain –