Thursday, December 8, 2011

Navimag Day 1: Pto Montt to Pto Natalies

My spanish is getting lazy. What do you mean you ask? I woke up early and had an amazing breakfast of re-heated left over pasta, canned peaches and instant coffee.
I needed to get to Puerto Montt, about 30 minutes away and the easiest was via a micobus as they are cheap and everywhere. You would think a piece of cake. Now comes my brilliant attempt at spanish. I got on the bus and said  I wanted to go to the Port in Puerto Montt to catch the boat for Puerto Natalies. Both guys looked at each other, then to me, then back at each other and started laughing. One guy started waving his hand in front of his but (the universal fart sign) which then had the passangers in front of the bus laughing. I figured out that I said something about wanting to fart, pass gas or the like and so joined in the laughing. The oddest thing is I have never used or know a word in spanish for anyting that relates to that word or phrase. Who knows which one I butchered. To to it off, the driver pats me on the shoulder and says in flawless english "dont worry my friend, I will get you to the port for your ship". I was off and running but man I need to hit the books.

My first impression of Puerto Montt, what a sh**hole. This is a typical Latin America port town. Dirty, dusty, edgy and more than one person begging in the scary way, not the homeless way.  It does not take a great imagination to realize that its probably more then a little dangerous at night being infested by port drunks, sailors and hookers. There was a heavy morning fog that covered everything adding to the ugliness.

Then after a bit the fog lifted, the bay began to shimmer and Volcan Osorno appeared in all her majesty. The town is still a shithole but at least it was polished up a bit. To add to my displeasure I had just opened my pack of starburt Tropical which are always a happy occasion. Well the Coconut tasted like ass. Man for an exciting day I was sure having a schleprock moment.

I found the ferry terminals easy enough and it was check in time, always an interesting adventure in human stupidity. After years of personal travel, 15 years of hardcore business travel and growing up in the tourist hell that is Niagara Falls I have learned to try my best to "never be that person" on the road. You know the one I mean. Glazed look, dazed and confused and prone to complete stupidity.
At any departe point or transit check in, airport, bus or train terminal, ferry port the very first thing I do is look for and read all the posted signs, inside and out of the terminal. They are there for a reason and more than have have arrows telling you which direction to go. Check in is here, baggage goes here, Bathrooms have universal icons, The big I for information. I then watch the flow of people if its busy. I know we all like to cut our own path but sometimes swimming upstream is not always the right direction. It makes it easy to know where a line starts and where the cue it so I can jump in and just wait patiently. There is no reason to panic. I have found my location, I am on time, I have my reservation and all my documents. There is no reason to start acting like a crazy stressed out person by asking other people in line questions like "is this the line up?", or my personal favourite is when people in line ask questions to nobody in particular but loud enough so everyone else can hear with the hope that someone, anyone will answer.

** I HATE waiting in line for anything but when I do I have learned to be quiet, patient and try to have an out of body experience if I can. Anything to pass the time. ***

Fast forward to the Navimag Terminals 9:30 am and remember our ship leaves at 1:00. A very basic operation and not the most modern but efficient enough to process the 150 or so people who will join me on this trip. There is one woman in a very official uniform behind a counter and two guys to her right, our left that process the baggage. The woman takes your print out reservation and then goes to various pre printed tickets, does a quick cross reference and gives you your boarding pass. She then says, got here (pointing) to drop your bags off and it will be at your bunk when you get on board. I think walk the 4 feet to my left and around the counter where a couple of smiling faces say "Welcome to Navimag, How many bags do you have?" I push my rugsack across the floor, tell them its not very heavy and they tag it. They then put the twin tag on my boarding pass (just like an airport) to match my bag with my bunk. Easy, done! As I said, not a modern service by any means but fast and efficient enough. I stood in line maybe 15 minutes (there was someone ahead of me being a douche to the woman) but I was processed in less than 5, closer to 3 minutes.  I had a good giggle as our printouts had a nice bar code on it and we were asked to bring our passports but there wasn't a computer anywhere to be found. There is something to be said the about the efficiency of Old School manuel processing.

However human nature reared its ugly head and out came the "tourists standing in line".
- This is so inefficient
- Where are those bags going
- I hope they did not double book my bed and make me sleep on the floor or something
- Is this the check in line? (Only line in the tiny terminal)
- Do you speak english (to me), what do I do?
- Do you have a room booked (again to me)
- Oh you have a printout or your reservation. I should have done that
There was lots of other mutterings, neck craning, staring and walking in circles so me and Mr. Ipod became friends and Van Morrison just helped ease the pain while I found my happy place, Having skittles in Alabama!

Happiness is watching a sea lion toss a fish and rip it apart while the seagulls and cormorants dive for scraps. This guy was going up and down the bay and having the time of his life just being a sea lion. Paradise.

Boarding the ship was and easy process and when we left I was impressed. This ship could turn on a dime. The captain fired off the horn as ships do, letting the town know they were leaving  and scaring the shit out of me. There were a few other ships docked and they blew thier horns just for fun and we blew our horn and back and forth it went. Of course everyone was waving to each other. I still dont get the I am on a boat I need to wave to everyone thing but I did it and it was fun. The departure was smooth, the views amazing and the water crystal blue.
After an hour on board we all met for a security briefing and as on an plane everyone was just zoned out, until they said lifeboats which seemed to shake eveyone out of thier slumber.

Dinner was at 7:30 and you just went into the dinning room and sat down. This gives a person a great chance to start to mingle and talk the standard ice breaking talk. Where are you from, where are you going, where have you been? My first box of wine found itself being opened to compliment the salmon dinner. After dinner most of the cool kids just moved naturally to the bar, drank the expensive ship beer or brought thier own booze. I wanted to be one of the cool kids so I just followed along like a good lemming.

Here is a link to the journey and some of the sights

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's not Osorno Volcano on the picture! But the post is readable ;-) Rgds from Punta Arenas - Kasia & Marcin. Come to Ushuaia one day earlier and we will have a beer or something.