To the lower reaches

Trip Start Mar 15, 2006
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Trip End May 30, 2007


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Flag of Chile  ,
Saturday, April 8, 2006

After leaving El Calafate to return to Chile, there seemed no real point in remaining in the rain drenched, not-so-high-on-spectacles Puerto Natales as I had planned. So straight away I jumped on another bus to head down to Punta Arenas, as it is from here that I will catch my next flight north.

Punta Arenas surprised me by how big it actually is, hidden away down here, miles from anywhere. Despite this, there didnīt appear to be a whole lot of exciting things to see with my extra unplanned day, and so I ended up at the cemetary...as you do.

What seemed to be a bit of a bizarre idea turned out to be strangely fascinating. The graves begin with what you may term regular - a small headstone and a few flowers and progress all the way up to little buildings. The buildings all have glass doors so you can see in, and I find that in fact its like a little house for dead families to stay together. They have on average three spaces up each side for a coffin, which is then concreted in. In between the two rows is a little shrine with pictures and flowers. But I have to wonder, if youīre getting on a bit and thereīs only one space left, are you fighting with your brother for who will pop off first and get the house?!!

Am I being a little distasteful here?? Anyway, around the outside of the cemetary - I guess for those with a little less money - are literally hundreds of spaces in the walls. Obviously filled with coffins, then with a mini-shrine at their feet; in places these things are 10 high. I suppose it all makes a lot of sense - very economical with space, but I canīt help feeling a little strange knowing that I am enclosed by walls of the dead.

With this thought in mind I decide to head out and south through town. I am trying to see as much as I can of any place I visit, since I am not likely to be back here in a hurry. But after a fair amount of walking in not-so-stunning scenery, and with the rain and cold southern wind getting heavier and stronger, I am beginning to think enough is enough.

With the combined thoughts that this is probably the closest any member of our family will get to my cousin Tom, currently working in Antartica, and the discovery of a road aptly named Bellavista (Italian for īBeautiful View`). I decide to take this beautiful twist of irony as a sign, and turn.

Thankfully, its time to head north, in search of warmer climes.
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