Puerto Natales was our gateway in and out of our backpacking trip through Parque Nacional Torres Del Paine. While we didn’t get a ton of time here, we certainly made some time to explore and have fun. Puerto Natales is a small town, quaint and old. There are small, family owned shops on every corner each specialized to a certain type of product. So, when we are grocery shopping for the day’s lunch and dinner, we are hopping from shop to shop gathering the items we need. There is one larger box store that came in and shut down many of the small businesses, but it hasn’t had as big of an impact as I have seen in the states (ie. Walmart coming to Gardnerville or other small towns). One of the locals that was giving us directions mentioned this store and asked that we support the local businesses to keep our money here in Puerto Natales instead of exported out to the corporate locations that don’t support the local economy. Naturally, we obliged. No matter where the small town is, I like to support the local businesses not only for the economy’s sake, but to experience the culture and interact with the locals as well. The people down here are fun, welcoming, and talk so fast that I am regaining my ability to speak Spanish just as quickly.
Our biggest project here in Puerto Natales has been finding peanut butter. It is not a common food down here, so our search has been far and wide over the last 2 weeks. We heard a rumor that there are “diet” shops that sell peanut butter, so that is our next stop today!
Around town, we walked along the pier and went to the local brewery, Baguales. They have 2 beers on draft that they make themselves, and they are pretty tasty! We split a pitcher and had the local cuisine, and had a blast with the bartender. He wrote out his favorite inexpensive wines to try, and chatted about the town and things to do. When we returned after our trek through the “W” last night, he was super excited and we talked even more about it. He corrects me as we talk, so my Spanish grammar is getting very refined. The Chileans speak in a totally different lingo than the Argentinians, so it was a little bit of a challenge to adjust, but fun nonetheless. He even complemented that my accent was getting WAY better. Woo hoo! I can finally speak without sounding completely incompetent. It’s a noticeable smile from the locals when I speak and maintain conversation rather than try to pull the few English words they speak in to a mangled conversation.
As tonight is our last night in Puerto Natales before we head onward to a new location, I must start the search for some peanut butter! More to come, and details of our backpacking trek through the “W” as well!