I found myself with two additional days to explore in PA and its surroundings. To save money, I stayed aboard the L.M.G. for the first two nights. My friends, Domi, Stef, Kim, and I enjoyed walking (and running) around town, window-shopping, eating out, and the limited nightlife. We went horseback riding for several hour among the rolling hills and along the beach with our Chilean cowboy guide, Philippe, thirty minutes south of town. Unfortunately, we all forgot our cameras, but often paused to take “mental pictures.” On horseback, we crossed rivers and deep swamps, climbed and descended hills. On the beach, several us broke into a light canter, passing brightly painted, rotting fishing vessels beached on the sand in the surf.
To the south of PA the trees are less stunted by wind and the hills more rolling as you near Tierra del Fuego (the land of fire). Because we had enjoyed our ride so much, Stef and I returned the next day in a rental car. After visiting a Magellan penguin colony in Ottoway to the north of PA, we turned around, navigated through the busy streets of PA once more, stereo blasting Latin Pop, and drove further south to visit the settlement of Puerto Hambre. Of all the penguins at Palmer Station, the Magellan penguins look most like the chinstraps (my favorites), although their facial coloring is even more distinct (Fig. 1; Fig. 2; Fig. 3) Whereas many of the penguins in Antarctica make their nests on dry land with small rocks, the Magellan penguins burrow, making their homes in the soil, beneath the scraggly bushes that cover the region (Fig. 4). Despite the differences between Adelies, gentoos, chinstraps, and Magellan penguins, their adolescent chicks suffer equally from awkwardness (Fig. 5). Population statistics about the penguin colony in Ottoway were posted in Spanglish (Fig. 6).
Puerto Hambre is the oldest settlement in the south of Chile, founded by general Sarmiento, who was attempting to claim the Magellan straight for the Spanish, or so we read in our dated guidebook. Sarmiento’s goal was to claim the territory before Sir Francis Drake could spread the word that this watery passageway wove through the tip of South America and could be used to avoid the formidable drake passage. Unfortunately, the colony did not fare well, and its members all starved. As a result, the La Ciudad Del Rey Don Felipe (the city of the king Don Felipe) was renamed Porto Hambre (Port Famine). Sarmiento’s grave (Fig. 6) and a the remains of a stone chapel (Fig. 7) and beautiful views of Tierra del Fuego are all that remain of this primitive settlement (Fig. 8) . We lost and found our way again, picnicked on random beaches, scooping out avocado halves with a single spoon, and grabbed a servesa at the southernmost establishment where the road turned to dirt.
We had promised to return the car by closing that day, so as not to deal with overnight parking. As a form of insurance, the rental agency asks you provide your local whereabouts, credit card number ect… and sign an agreement that you will pay a whopping sum of 50 thousand dollars if the car is totaled (or for any damages that you incur). Luckily, we added not a scratch to robust mid-sized car, and at 10 minutes to 7 had safely returned it after speeding back. We shared a sandwich and artisan hot chocolates at a coffee shop in PA, returned to our hostel, showered and went out in search of our friends for a night worth remembering that would blur with all the rest.