I don’t want to say that Puerto Montt is a boring place. It’s a nice port city in its own right. I just think that there are better places that I could visit… like the local dental clinic, where they can perform a root canal operation on me, using only a toothpick and a hammer.
I’ve always liked towns by the beach. I don’t really know why, but most places by the beach gives me the sense of tranquillity tempered with the possibility of adventure that might jump out at you around every corner. Probably one too many readings of Enid Blyton when I was growing up. The contingency plan is that when all else fails, you can always go for a walk down the beach.
Except in Puerto Montt’s case, I could only use the term “beach” in the loosest sense of the word.
Of course, it doesn’t help that being situated at the edge of Patagonia, Puerto Montt is “blessed” with the gale force winds and blistering rains that the Patagonian region is notorious for… without the stunning and isolated beauty of Patagonia.
This meant that we didn’t have many chances to go down to the salted sand pit they call a beach anyway.
And then there’s the food… The local delicacy is this dish called Curanto.
In essence, it is a platter stacked with mussels, clams, potatoes, milcao (a kind of potato bread), chapaleles, fish, and mystery meat of the day.
So, how does the Curanto taste like? Is it good? Well.. Curanto is a traditional dish and the Chileans at Puerto Montt has been eating it for thousands of years… I think we managed to grab some leftovers from the first cooking.
The only good things we got to look forward to is the brief moments (strong emphasis on “brief”) after the rain.
So how the hell did we end up staying three days in Puerto Montt???
Puerto Montt is THE gateway to Chilean Patagonia. It is also the only place that you could take a cruise ride on the Navimag Ferry down the Chilean coastline to Puerto Natales and the famous Torres del Paine.
The 4-days cruise was supposed to take us “along endless fjords, desolate channels and uninhabited islands that are covered by virgin temperate rainforest and overlooked by the snow-capped peaks of unnamed mountains that stand above the Northern and Southern Patagonian Ice Field”.
At US$400/head for the off season rate, it almost sounded too good to be true.
It was… for us anyway…
Since the ferry is scheduled to sail every Tuesday, we didn’t want to (literally) miss the boat. We arrived in Puerto Montt on a Friday night, hoping to catch the next ferry out. We figured we would get the tickets from the ticketing office first thing the next morning.
By the time we reached the ticketing office (at 2PM) (Not too late what!), it was closed. Since they don’t open for business on Sunday as well, we needed to wait till Monday to get our tickets. So, that’s three days we needed to stay in Puerto Montt.
At that point in time, we could’ve gone to nearby “tourist-friendly” Puerto Varas to while away the time, but we chose to stay in boring (windy and rainy) Puerto Montt. There was a very good reason for that… We were very settled at Casa Perla and cannot be bothered to repack our stuff and move our lazy asses… also, we figured all the hard work we’ve put in would be worth it once we stepped on the ferry.
We never did find out if that assumption was true.
After waiting for three days to get our ferry tickets, we found out that we were too early for the ship.
The first ferry of the cruising season will only run in a month’s time.