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Full Circle

Day 159: Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales

Chilean Patagonia 
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The road north Chilean Patagonia
Michael Palin - Full CircleChile is a long, narrow country, divided into thirteen administrative regions each with a name and, apart from the capital, Santiago, with a Roman numeral as well.

We are on Highway 9, in Region XII, Magallanes y Antartica Chilena. It is cold and very wet and I find it hard to believe that when, and if, we reach Region I, we shall be in the heat of a desert, parts of which have not seen rain for four years. But that is two thousand six hundred and ninety miles away from where we are now.

A line of telegraph poles and sheep the size of large huskies are all that stand out against the low skyline of exposed, soggy brown grassland north of Punta Arenas. If there are trees at all their barks and branches are a spectral green colour. They look dead but it's just a coating of moss formed in the sodden air.

Chileans were not much interested in this desolate southland and the names on the few farms we come to - 'Estancia Otway', 'Estancia San Geronimo, Prop. P. Schmitt' - are reminders that it was Europeans, particularly British, German and Yugoslavs, who first settled here and pioneered the sheep farms. The Chilean attitude to their remote southland is best summed up by the name on a sign we have just passed which announces this to be: Provincia del Ultimo Esperanza, Last Chance Province.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 159
  • Country/sea: Chile
  • Place: Puerto Natales
  • Book page no: 218

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