We have spent a couple of days in Punta Arenas Chile, exploring and doing some routine items. I chipped my tooth again (sorry no photos) in the same spot where it always does – so found my way to a local dentist office. It was very nice – no “do you have insurance’ – simply – you pay $50 and see the doctor. We have talked with many local people about the healthcare system – some people come to South America to have procedures done. One example, a husband/wife team from New York are physicias (he is Argetine) – she was here and broke her hip. Before the surgery the hospital gave him a list of things (IV, needles, tubing, etc.) and he had to go down to the local pharmacy and buy it all. He said in the US it would have cost $1000, it cost about $20. For her hip, the medical device company came to their hotel and they picked out the make/model of the hip – you pay the company directly and then deliver it to the Dr. for replacement. All in all medical care is good, and cheaper here than the US.
Ok, back to Punta Arenas. We spent our non utilitarin time (tooth, fixing a tire, clothes laundry) exploring the town. We found a replica of the Victoria – used by Magellan in the discovery of the straight. We also leanred a lot about Sir Shackelton and his unbelievable rescue of his sailors in Antartica. They had a replica boat of the one he took from Antartica to go find help (and ended up in a huge sea storm) – it was smaller than a boat I fixed in Utah this summer.
The other thing we did was to explore the famous graveyard. This is an amazing place with families creating huge mosoleiums (sp?) in their family name. I found a “Pinochet” grave marker – I don’t think it’s his, but most of the supporting stuff around it was gone. Overall a pretty interesting time, we even found some very young people who were also involved in the settlement of this area. You realize how historic this place is with people like Shackleton, Magellan, etc. names all over the place. Until the panama canal was built this was probably one of the busies shipping areas in the world. It doesn’t feel like that now – honestly our port in Vina del Mar felt much bigger and active than this one from a shipping standpoint.
Turning North – we have left Punta Arenas and ave driven north on Interstate – 3 in Argentina. If you thought driving Kansas, or Texas was flat and boring, well let me tell you this has them both beat. We have driven for 2 days in heavy wind, dry scenery, big flat sections, with literally nothing around. The wind was blowing about 50mph, gusting to probably 80 yesterday. We got stuck at a stop for an hour where they had stopped traffic from going on due to the high winds. Every time a truck would pass you could feel the entire car shake from the airflow around the two vehicles. We met a guy on the boat who was riding his motorcycle up the same way – i hope he found a different route due to the winds. We ended up doing about 55mph given the wind conditions. The other thing – you go long stretches with nothing – no fuel stop, no rest stops, etc. So the advice you read about fill up when you can is very, very true. We have extra gas on board and today would have needed it if I hadn’t had stopped for gas to fill up, even though we had 3/4 of a tank. We are now in Puerto Deseado on the coast for two days until we move up to Bahia Bustimante for 4 days.