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Full Circle

Day 159: Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales, Chile 
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The shrine of a thousand plastic bottles.
Michael Palin - Full CircleBy the side of the road on a windswept hill is a shrine consisting of enormous numbers of empty plastic bottles gathered around a small glass container in which candles are burning. This is in memory of a woman who died on a road crossing the pampas. Despite the fact that she perished from dehydration, her child survived by feeding on milk from her breast. It was considered to be a miracle. There is a picture of the woman lying flat out on the road, a ray of heavenly light striking her nipple, and it is believed that if you leave a bottle of water here at the shrine someone who is sick will be healed.

Puerto Natales is a wide low-slung town at the narrowest part of Chile, only three miles from the Argentinian border. It is spread along the shore of Last Hope Sound where flocks of cormorants, tufted ducks and the characteristic black-headed swans gather in large numbers, undeterred by low cloud and cold, driving rain. Before supper I walk along the front, wrapped up like an Arctic explorer, my feet crunching over mussel shells dropped by the seagulls.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 159
  • Country/sea: Chile
  • Place: Puerto Natales
  • Book page no: 219

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