South! Por Favor… (Chile)

“SOUTH” por favor, señor.

It is the only hitchhiking sign I’ve really needed to travel down Chile. Chile is the skinniest and tallest country on earth and it shows in its road maps. A month ago my drivers already offered me (truck) rides to Puerto Montt. But until now I always responded that I wasn’t traveling that far south. At least, not yet. Until now. I’ve actually arrived in Puerto Montt with Jonas and it wasn’t as daunting of a journey at all. Three thousand kilometers just in this country, just so far.

The hitchhiking sign saying “SUR” hasn’t survived it all the way over three months of travel. It’s probably the third version of a sign pointing south already. It keeps being useful as I’m not as far south as I want to go. That will be 2000 more kilometers going through Argentina to go to Punta Arenas (also Chile).

Our last ride into this city was with a taciturn guy named Hernando. He would occasionally talk about the region and the forest fires, but not much about himself. With cruise control set at exactly 119 kilometers per hour, we drove at this stable pace past carabineros (Chilean police), villages and volcanoes. I smoked one cigarette with a coffee-cup-turned-ashtray and he smoked two. Jonas smokes zero.

Hernando asked me where I needed to go inside Puerto Montt. I just said that somewhere central would be convenient. Right in the city centre it was. Jonas took this photo at the boulevard next to the bay that reaches for the city. Cruise ships like the one I came to this continent moor in this bay. The one I saw was called Norwegian Sun – perhaps the Hurtigruten (Norwegian cruise along the fjords) of the south! I hope this hitchhiking sign survives the rest of the trip south, but I bet it doesn’t as the humidity goes up and precipitation too. It’s probably going to be long pants weather from now on, perhaps with a sweater too. It’s a little ironic; I left Europe in part to escape winter. Subsequently, I find myself hitchhiking towards it here. I guess I’ll never learn!


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