Thursday, February 7, 2008

Day 5: Palatial Punta Arenas

The Monkeys are Internet access! We had the best time on our nautical adventure. We sailed around Cape Horn and practically walked on a glacier, and now we're at the southernmost tip of South America in Ushuaia, Argentina. After Ushuaia, we'll be going to Buenos Aires and then Iguazu Falls.

Now join me as I recap a bit (I'm something like five or six days behind now), starting from the day before our Patagonian cruise....

Our flight to Punta Arenas went right over Torres del Paine, a major park of Patagonia. Mr. Monkey took these from his window seat.

We stayed at the incredible Hotel Jose Nogueira in Punta Arenas. Our suite was fit for a king. Literally. I'd read in a brochure that His Majesty the King of Spain Juan Carlos de Borbon had stayed in this hotel, as well as Princess Anne of England, so I knew the hotel was pretty swanktastic.

Lo and behold, the hotel manager informed us that our suite was the actual room in which both the king and the princess had stayed. Huge. High ceilings. Hardwood floors. Chandelier. And we thought our hotel in Puerto Varas was nice!

After settling into our royal room, we went downstairs to the restaurant La Pergola, which a guide had told us was the best around. We had a crabfest! Appetizer of king crab, crab cannelloni, and crab chupe, which is like a hot crab dip you eat with a spoon. Seriously good. Chilean seafood is so fresh and delicious.

The original plan for Day Five was to visit the penguins on Isla Magdalena, home of over 120,000 Magellanic penguins, and Isla Marta, a haven for sea lions. The original plan included a ride on a small zodiac.

The original plan was foiled. By crazy gusty winds.

Drat. Drat. Drat. 120,000 penguins! Everywhere! So sad. [sniffle]

Mr. Monkey was prepared with a Plan B, though. Penguins or bust!

We got on a van to Seno Otway, which also has penguins, though not nearly as many as Isla Magdalena. The ride there and back were quite possibly the worst experiences I've ever had in a land vehicle in my life -- even worse than our long rides across dirt roads in Kenya and Tanzania.

The van started off fine. An English couple, a Chilean couple, and a Frenchman rode the van with us, and we were first transported to a nearby forest, where we took a hike. Good thing I was wearing SPF 70 on my face.

Mr. Monkey ate some wild berries after he saw our driver pop some in his mouth. I documented it all in case we had to identify the species, should we require a hospital visit for poisoning. Mr. Monkey said they were really good. I still refrained.

After our short hike, the van got packed. We picked up other passengers from a local hostel. Imagine 14 people in a van, bumping, rattling, shaking, and swaying in high-velocity winds on unpaved roads in the rain. Someone complained she was cold, so the driver turned off the air. I wanted to throttle her. Imagine the aforementioned experience sans ventilation. Now imagine that you are prone to motion sickness.


The silver lining was that Seno Otway was pretty damn awesome, even though it was far cry from what Isla Magdalena would've been. You probably wouldn't have known that, had I not said anything, but I'm all about full disclosure. Plus, if you do come to Patagonia some day, I don't want you to go to Seno Otway when you could go to Isla Magdalena.

And, with no further delay, I present to you Plan B!

Not bad for a backup plan.


  1. Okay, you are officially too HC+L for my blood with that hotel room! ::drooling::

    And the penguins! Oh, the penguins! That looks like it was worth the sketchy (at best) drive.

  2. Awwww look at the penguins!!! Sorry to hear about the drive. That hotel bed looks amazing.

  3. amazing hotel room.
    i love crab. yum. all of it looks so good.
    awesome penguins. eee!

  4. Ahhhhh!! I LOVE those penguins!!!

    And how gorgeous is your hotel?!

  5. So happy for you that Plan B was in place. I was cracking up at the thought of your face when the girl said she was cold. HA!

  6. Hey, have you heard the one about the Englishman, the Chilean and the Frenchman? So this American gets into a van. . .

  7. "An English couple, a Chilean couple, and a Frenchman..." walked into a bar...seriously, I was thinking a joke was forthcoming!

    Those penguins are adorable. I want one!

    I enjoy reading your posts about all your adventures. I'm homesick for LA!

    Hope you have a safe trip...

  8. more penguins?!? even more jealousE.

    bummer about the van ride :(

    freaking awesome about the room! :D

  9. plan b is rad. when i saw the food, i literally scrolled back up to drool a little. ;-)

  10. such cutie little penguins. I want to pinch their cheeks!

    And here's what I don't get. Stupid girl says "I'm cold" and air goes off. Why didn't you pipe up with "I'm hot" since one can apparently rule the masses.

  11. i love the crab fest and adore a room fit for a Queen Monkey and her King. Bring me back a penguin. danke.

    ps i miss reading your blog every night ;0

  12. Not bad indeed. ;) Your room looks bigger than my apartment. That is both awesome and depressing at the same time. The food makes me drool and the pics are too cool.

  13. holy penguins!! thank you for brightening up my day with the birds in suits

  14. i'm not gonna lie. after the crab, i was lost.


  15. Penguin pictures made me smile... BIG.

    Not gonna lie.

  16. Swanktastic is perhaps the perfect word to describe your hotel room. How in the world did you manage to leave it? Those penguin pics are so cute and absolutely awesome!!!

  17. Those penguins are soooo cute! :)

    Love the hotel room!

  18. The room is beuatiful and I <3 crab... it looks so yummy :)


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