May 26, Puerto Eden (a fairytale land)

Day 1
Today was a beautiful, sunny but uneventful day. Again there was hardly any wind and our hopes to sail were crashed from the early morning. I had a lie in this morning and only got out of bed when Mario came into the room screaming ‘This is the last time you are going to see this glacier!’ That convinced me. It was 9am when I crawled out of bed. The sun was slowly rising over the glacier creating a beautiful moment. There were the dolphins again who seemed to have come to say goodbye. For the first time I realized they were whale dolphins (for the lack of a better name) which made it all more special. Funny things they are…the like swimming on their bellies looking up at us. It is almost like they understood exactly what was going on. They were almost human in their behavior.
We left the quiet, pretty caleta motoring and that is what we did for the rest of the day. There was just no wind. At some point in the afternoon we tacked a bit trying to catch the breeze but it only helped us with about 0.5kts. It was far from enough to just sail on it.
It was a sunny day, we enjoyed the views, I cleaned the cabin, the boys spent most of their time outside, playing chess, chatting, etc. I went in and out, spent time reading and then towards the end of the day played backgammon with Mario. Before that though we spent some time making dice and black-and-white chips needed for the improvised board we had. I made a couple of dice from the cushioning foam of my computer box but was worried they were to light and Mario cut another two from a plastic wine cork. That is also what we used to make the chips. Mario coloring the black ones with a marker.
We played best of three and Mario beat me three times in a row. Then I got bored and I thought playing chess would be a nice idea, but he beat me at that too. I don’t think I have ever lost so many games in one day. And he is the type of person who doesn’t miss an opportunity to rub it in your face.
We had barely finished the chess game when we arrived in tiny Puerto Eden. I have been looking forward to getting there imagining it as this small, colorful fairytale town (town would be an overstatement since there are about 30 buildings in all of it). I imagine it as a gathering of small, colorful houses lined along a single path in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains and water. Rather romantic.
We finally arrived just before darkness and released our anchor. We couldn’t tie to the local buoy because the tide was way too low and opted for the anchor in the middle of the bay, nearby Bob’s boat. Although it was too dark to depict any house colors, the location of the village is truly magnificent. It is cuddled in between massive piles of stone mountains and tall, snow peaks to the sides and the back and it overlooks the channel in the front.
We saw some a few lit houses to our right together with some small shacks that looked uninhabited. Then there was the main part of the village right in front of us, a comparatively large building attracting our attention (we later found out it was the local school for 13 kids), and then a small bunch of isolated houses far to our left. All we could see in the darkness is a few lit windows and thin strips of smoke coming through the chimneys. We could see through the windows of the nearest houses and I thought it looked very cosy and warm on the inside creating a very romantic atmosphere all together. I could picture myself living in a place like this for a while. Imagine the peace, the quiet, the simplicity. Imagine the still nights in front of the booming stove, preferably shared with loved ones. In short this place seems to have a Christmas feel about it 365 days a year. The goodness, the merry spirit, the romance of it all seeps through the cracks of the small wooden houses. I am looking forward to exploring the one road village during daylight hours tomorrow.
Soon after we anchored, the local coast guard came to us in their big, black, impressive Zodiac. I was on deck covering our veggie boxes when they pulled up by the boat and greeted. They said they’d come over to check our papers and I invited them inside where there was light. I also thought it was a nice friendly gesture that would predispose them favourably towards us. They spent some time noting down our details while we asked them questions about water and fuel. They knew exactly what we were after (food, water and fuel) and mentioned the supermarkets, the petrol guy and the water guy without us even asking. I asked them about the doctor. They asked me what was wrong straight away, mentioning there was a nurse but not really a doctor. I laughed and looked around uncomfortably. I was embarrassed talking about my urinary infection and had no idea how to explain it discreetly in Spanish. On top of that Bob had already come over and the boat was full men. I didn’t feel comfortable talking about my private bits in front of them. The armada guy insisted and I had to tell him in order to get an appropriate treatment. I told him that it hurt when I did pee-pee. He understood.
After a couple of minutes I heard his colleague talking about my problem with his fellow armada guys on the radio. ‘Great!’ I thought, ‘My most intimate issues are on public radio now…’. From what I overheard the officer was discussing the availability of a doctor or something along these lines.
When they were done they got up to go and told me they would take me to the doctor. ‘What?! Now?!’ I exclaimed. They confirmed. ‘Well, ok’ I thought. ‘I should probably wash up before I saw the doctor’ I told my guys. I turned to the officers and asked them whether they could wait a few minutes so I could get ready. Five minutes later I was ready to go. Mario jumped up and stated he was coming too for moral support. The armada took us ashore in their Zodiac and then they walked us to the mini hospital. It was actually a hospital, not just an office. The lovely lady medic met us at the door with a smile on her face. She gave us all a kiss in true Chilean fashion and showed me into her office. The armada guys said they would wait to take us back to the boat since we didn’t have one of our own.
I had my chat with the lady; she asked a few questions, poked me here and there, took my temperature and sent me home. She prescribed some antibiotics and antiseptics and advised me on a couple of healthy practices. We laughed and chatted like friends. While outside in the waiting room I could hear Mario’s booming voice cracking jokes with the armada guys. ‘This is so like him…’ I thought and I smiled to myself. I admire people who can just pick up a friendly conversation from nothing. By the time I came out five minutes later they had become friends. Hats off Mario.
We walked slowly back to the dock where the armada Zodiac awaited us. It was dark and the only village path was very slippery as a result of a thin layer of ice covering it. We walked carefully until Mario slipped and nearly tripped over. We had reached some invisible (in the dark) steps and we became a lot more attentive all of a sudden. The armada guy who was walking to my right grabbed me by the arm and helped me inch my way through all the stairs. Mario walking in front of me also helped me. Lucky me!
We reached the well lit section and swiftly walked back to the boat where the other armada guys were waiting. One of them came up to me and asked whether everything had gone ok. I said it had, wondering why he was asking. He said his boss had also been worried upon hearing about it. I was impressed and touched. How very nice these people were! As a matter of fact we had never had any trouble with the Chilean Armada and they had always welcomed us very warmly wherever we went. I am truly impressed by the Chileans. Wonderful, warm, friendly, helpful, caring people.
Back on the boat, Liam and Bob had settled at the table deeply engrossed in a discussion about pacifism, and Ian was cooking dinner just like he had promised earlier that day. Mario joined them in their discussion and I sat down to document today.
Day 2
We got up at 9am, a late start compared to a regular sailing day. If it wasn’t for the Patagonian Radio Net we wouldn’t even bother to get up. Soon after we got up Mario came up to me asking whether I wanted to have a game of backgammon. I was surprised he wanted to play (hasn’t expressed any such desires previously) let alone first thing in the morning. We played a couple of games and he beat me most times. I only managed to win one game. That day we played a lot more backgammon and chess and he beat me at all of them. I also played a game of backgammon with Bob and he beat me too. What a day!
We had a relaxed start, the boys drinking coffee and chatting about weather and maps while I was making a nice omelet breakfast for all of us. If you could only see the presentation – each plate was picture perfect! Once we were done we thought it was time to get some chores done. We needed to find out about fuel, laundry and food shopping. The armada guys had told us about the fuel and the water the night before and we set out along the single board walk in the village towards Don Jose’s house. He was the local fuel man.
We found him sitting in his living room in front of a looming wood stove, casually chatting to a couple of his local buddies, while his wife was setting the table for lunch. Unfortunately, there was no fuel left and he didn’t seem particularly enthusiastic about getting us any. Surprisingly his vibe wasn’t too friendly for a Chilean. We asked him a few questions, including where to find the laundry lady and how much the accommodation in his house cost (for Liam who would have to wait for the Navimag). He pointed to a nearby house where a lady with a washing machine lived. We went up to her but it turned out the machine had broken down and she couldn’t help us. We asked whether there was anybody else doing laundry and she pointed us to a lady on the other side of the island.
We walked there still on the same boardwalk. It went through the woods, a few houses before it reached a group of houses belonging to the local Kaweskar community (indigenous). I didn’t actually realized what it was until a bit later. There was nobody around except for a man chopping wood and I asked him about the house of the laundry lady. I noticed his face was different than the rest but didn’t think anything of it at the time. I thanked him and walked on. Only later, when our way back I realized that the houses belonged to the indigenous and the man I had spoken to was one of them. It later turned out he is one of six remaining pure Kaweskar people.
We found Patricia’s (laundry lady) house and she was happy to receive us. We thought we would only inquire before we took anything there but even so she invited us in her modest living room. We said we would come back a bit later and went back to get all the laundry.
Back on the boat we gathered our dirty clothes and headed back out. We wanted to make it back to Patricia’s house before 2pm when electricity was shut down until 6pm. We hoped she could wash some of it before 2pm. Back at her house, she welcomed us warmly and invited us for mate. We sat in the small living/dining/kitchen area crowding the sofa and the chairs. She wiped some surfaces, boiled some water and for about 30min we took turns drinking the mate while chatting about various things. None of them sophisticated (whatever that means!) but we all left her house with a warm, fuzzy feeling, amazed at her hospitality. She even invited us to go back there after 6pm if we wanted to watch TV. She had cable.
Patricia pointed us to the best supermarket in town and we walked further down the boardwalk to the end of the village where it was located. The man was also supposed to have some fuel. Our hopes up, we swiftly walked there only to find out that there was no fuel. We did some shopping and stocked on fizzy drinks and more eggs. Bob also did some shopping, buying basic veggies and some eggs.
Once all that was done we were back on the boat and we didn’t really do all that much. We just hung out and played games. In the evening Ian cooked a hearty meal of Aloo Jeera (cumin potatos) and meat with tahini sauce and we settled for the day.
Day 3
Today is Bob’s birthday and we have decided to have a special day for him. We had another lazy morning and Liam made fantastic pancakes for us. We gathered around the table and had them with various jams, cheese, ham, fruit, etc. A small feast!
We then set out to sort out our water supply. We had to get a key from a local guy in charge of the water supply so I just ran to his house that was just in front of the dock where we were parked. It took me a few minutes to find the right door but then I spoke to the guy’s wife who told me her husband was away and the key was with him. She said he would be back in a couple of hours so we went back to the boat and waited. Since we knew we would be getting water that day we thought we’d take hot showers. Ian did, then I did, while the others were playing chess. Then Mario did and settled to play chess with Bob. Liam left it for later.
The guy came back and unlocked the water hose and we refilled the tanks. I used the unlimited water supply to wash the deck and the cockpit that had become very dirty. Once all that was done Liam and I went for walk, Mario took off on his own, Bob was having some me-time on his boat and Ian had gotten lost somewhere.
Liam and I went to one end of the village, then wandered to a higher lookout point and hung out at this watch tower, chatting. On our way to the mirador we bumped into a couple of indigenous men and had a chat with them. I thought it very cool since they were two of only six remaining pure indigenous tribe that I had read about in books. This ancient nation of almost fairytale character. They told us about their work, about their language, that they still spoke between them but that was disappearing with the last pure indigenous, they told us about their children that were all mestizos (mixed), they talked about the Red Tide poison found in mussels living on the Chilean coast, and they told us about how the village used to be years ago. It was such a lovely chat and they asked whether we would be here in the morning so they could come to the boat and take photos as a memory.
We then followed the boardwalk to the other side of the village until we reached the very last house on the opposite side of the village. All along we were followed by the local dogs that came running out from every house. There was no getting rid of them. They would bark or get into a fight and then people would scream at them from inside their house making it all very dramatic. On our way back we met Patricia, our laundry lady and shared our fuel problems with her. We mentioned that we had been thinking about ordering it with the Navimag, and she reminded us that it had to be ordered that same day if it were to arrive on Monday.
We rushed back to the boat, picking up Mario and Ian (who had picked up some fresh mint) on the way. We wondered what to do – whether to wait for Don Jose to sort something out, just like he had promised, or to order the fuel from Puerto Montt. In any case, we went up to the armada guys to get a better understanding of the order process. It turned out that we had time until the day after and we relaxed a bit. We would wait for Don Jose to contact us at 7pm that night and let us know what was happening.
We went back to the boat as it was time to prepare Bob’s festive birthday feast. Liam was making brownies and I was about to embark on a three-course meal.
We would start with a selection of cheese (blue and yellow), hams, olives (green and black), crackers, a mozzarella/tomato salad and my version of vinaigrette. The boys cracked open some beers and I had nothing because of the antibiotics. Our main course consisted of steak, mashed potatoes (with carrots and fried onions), and Liam’s roasted vegetables all that accompanied by red wine. For desert we had brownies with my dynamic whipped cream and strawberries. We even lit a candle for Bob and sang ‘Happy Birthday’. We made him to make a wish. He was touched and rather moved. I am glad we managed to make something special out o his birthday. At about 11.30pm we all retired for the night.
Day 4
Today was a rather relaxed day. We had a porridge breakfast accompanied by a fresh fruit salad. The boys then went back to Don Jose hoping there will be fuel. And there was! They came back and we moved the boat to the designated location.
Ever since after breakfast I busied myself with writing down recipes from a student cooking book that Bob brought for me. The project took all day since I copied nearly all 100 recipes. Once everyone was gone I thought it was a good opportunity to take a break from typing and clean the cabin. There were dishes to wash, floor to be swept and mopped, a bathroom to be cleaned, and general tiding up to do. I did all that while the guys moved the boat back and forth, sorting out the fuel. When I was done cleaning, I decided to make pizza, feeling inspired by Bob’s book that featured an easy dough recipe. I prepared the dough (first time in my life) but decided to put it aside for the time being as it wouldn’t be enough for all five of us. Instead I opted for some pasta with vegetable sauce for lunch as a more filling option. I thought it would also be much faster than the pizza but it wasn’t. At 4pm we finally sat for lunch.
There was some fuel spillage problem and Ian got rather frustrated, fuel spilling all over while he was trying to take some out into jerry cans and give it to Bob. Apparently, we had taken a lot more that the 100l we had rationed per boat and had to give some of it back to Bob. Also while we were filling up our tanks they had overflown losing about 40l of diesel in total. Unfortunate but it happens. When all the mess was cleaned up we sat down for chess, reading, music and more recipes typing for me. I didn’t go out at all today, which I probably should have done because I felt rather active on board.
There was the dough so dinner was sorted. Pizzas. Liam spread the dough over Bob’s baking tray, I made the tomato base and we used Lima’s left over roasted veggies from last night’s birthday dinner as a topping for one of the pizzas. Then we made the second one with some onions, mushrooms, mozzarella and blue cheese. Both pizzas were delicious and a success. We had them with coke (my usual pizza thing).
Well, everybody is still here and it is now 11pm. The guys are sipping wine, and we are just chatting. We are leaving tomorrow afternoon at high tide; this time without Liam. Let’s see what the next part of the trip brings. Hopefully there is wind and we can make good progress. I will miss Liam, he is a great guy and we have become very good friends. I hope all is well with him.
As far as Puerto Eden is concerned…what a lovely place! The nights have been stunningly beautiful – cloudless with a full moon illuminating the snow peaks surrounding us. It is magical scenery. Last night I sat on the deck, hoping, almost expecting a miracle to happen. The place certainly gives the impression that everything is possible. I am I wouldn’t mind staying here for a lot longer. I even imagined building myself a little house perched on a hill. It would have a small open space serving as the kitchen, dining room and the living room, as well as a small double bedroom and a bathroom. The center piece would be an open fireplace where I would spend my evening with a hot cup of tea and a book. I would have some plants and some animals and read and write all day. I could probably live in such a place for a while. I wonder how long I would last before I get bored and need to leave.

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