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By Mikey
Thursday, 20th May 2004 19:29

We managed to get up early enough to have breakfast for once although we had other motives than food. Before we caught our bus to Puerto Natales at 1pm, we wanted to have a quick wander around and take a couple of photos. Our first port of call was the statue in the main square of Punta Arenas. Apparently, if you rub the knee you will return to Punta Arenas one day. Who are we to resist knee rubbing opportunities like that? Unfortunately for us though, the statue was completely surrounded by roadworks and we could not get to it. Hopefully our flight ticket for Balmaceda from Punta Arenas will be sufficient to guarantee our return, however briefly.

Our second brief stop was the beach (if you want to call it that) to take some photos of cormorants, big ships and mouldy, dead, headless seagulls. Having managed to accomplish that, we checked out of our hotel and found an internet café for a few minutes. Then we caught our bus.

Naturally, because it was warm and comfy, there was some sleeping done on the bus. However, outside we had pretty much all of the seasons going on. Sun, frost, rain, clouds and fog. All within a three hour bus ride. Whilst I was dozing, Claire started talking to an army captain who was on the bus and he told her (and me when I woke up) lots of stuff about the area and suggested places we should stay and things that we should do. Naturally we forgot everything the minute we stepped off the bus and we ended up in a small, family run B&B. Once we'd dispensed with the usual pleasantries of telling them who we were, putting our bags down and removing an earwig from the room, we wandered off to see what we could of the town before the sun went down. But that wasn't too much because it was getting quite late.

Our wandering took us past a big four star hotel that had a nice looking restaurant. Tempted, we looked at the menu. Immediately you could see what sort of hotel it was. The menu had Chilean flags next to the Spanish bits and American flags next to the English bits. We casually enquired about the room rates and they were about twenty times what we're paying in our little room, and that's just in low season!

Moments after leaving the hotel, we realised that we were being stalked by a little dog that Claire had stroked before we'd gone in. He seemed to think that we wanted to feed him. He followed us for about ten minutes as we headed back towards the town center, occasionally running off to bark at other dogs or moving cars. On one such occasion we ducked into a restaurant to have an early supper. I had a beer from the southermost brewery in the world and we both left with happy, full tummies.

It wasn't long at all though before our little friend tracked us down. He may even have been waiting outside the restaurant doing his best 'starving dog' impersonation. He made us feel quite guilty for not having saved the nice fatty bits of our steaks for him so we resolved to buy him something to eat when we popped into a nearby supermarket for some tinned peaches. He seemed to know what we were doing as he waited patiently outside for us. However, he did seem a bit perplexed when we presented him with a bread roll nearly as big as his head. It's possible that he could have been thinking any one of the following:

  • I thought you were going to get me some meat!
  • What do you expect me to do with this? It's as big as my head!
  • Can you pinch me please because I just dreamt that someone gave me a big bread roll.
  • Ok, that'll do for starters. What's next?
  • Is that really for me? You don't want me to share it with anyone?

For a while, he didn't seem to get the idea but when we started to walk off, he happily snatched up the roll in his mouth and started to strut along with us as if to show off what he had. After a few minutes of struting, he obviously felt like eating his prize and started hunting for somewhere to eat in peace. Eventually, he ran across the road and disappeared into an alley. We nipped into another internet café feeling a lot less guilty.

After an hour or so, we finished our various internet activities and started to head back to our room. Within minutes our stalker was back. Perhaps he wanted us to take him in, perhaps he just wanted to be our friend or perhaps he realised that he found a couple of soft touch tourists who might have more food. Fortunately for the dog (although I think he was hoping for something more along the lines of some meat), the bread roll was one of two and since we were nearly back to our room and wanted to distract the dog so he wouldn't spend the night waiting outside for us, he got the second one too. Lucky dog. He didn't even wait to find somewhere to hide before tucking into that one. And we didn't wait for him to finish before dashing back to our room for the night.

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