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Full Circle

Day 161: Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine, Chile 
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Chilean cowboys.
Michael Palin - Full CircleBreakfasts in Chile are definitely disappointing. Quite apart from the obligatory slice of pale yellow cheese, with all the appeal of a skin graft, there is the vexed question of coffee. Sachets of instant coffee and jugs of hot water are usually all that's provided. This morning I have high hopes. The coffee order arrives on a tray covered in white linen. Two silver pots are laid on the table. No sign of any sachets. Nostrils twitching in expectation, I raise the lid of the first jug. It's full of hot water. Move quickly to the second, it's half full of cold milk. I look desperately round for the waiter, but he has anticipated my every need and with a triumphant flourish produces another silver tray on which is a tin of Maxwell House, exquisitely opened for me.

A gorgeous pink sunrise offers cautious optimism as we continue northwards into the Torres del Paine National Park on a dirt road, holed and pitted. This used to be sheep country but demand for wool has fallen in the last few years, and the ovejeros, the 'sheep boys', have turned to raising cattle. We pass them, astride their horses, wearing ponchos, muddy leather jackets and wide hats, herding beasts from field to field, with the help of earnestly scampering sheepdogs who seem to have happily become cowdogs overnight.
Puerto Natales, Chile 
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Sunset at Puerto Natales.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 161
  • Country/sea: Chile
  • Place: Torres del Paine
  • Book page no: 220

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