February 2019

I began my journey from my home in western NC, USA. After a grueling 14+ hour flight with layovers, and then jumping on another even smaller plane for a few more hours, my travel companion and I finally arrived in the southern region of Chile – Patagonia. It was a blessing the airport wasn’t too far away, we had been squeezed in for so long, it was time to let our bodies breathe. After settling into Hotel Finis Terrae which is just a few short blocks from the coast, we plan on spending a relaxing first day wandering around Punta Arenas. It’s a quaint coastal town on the Straits of Magellan, this will be our home base for the week. While enjoying a cup of coffee in a local cafe, we get a game plan in order for the next days adventure. Then after a brief visit to the international police station to get a tourist card, we don’t remember getting one but apparently you’ve got to have one to get out of the country and to check into your hotel, so that was a priority upon arriving.  After all the important details were handled, it was time to explore the area.

First thing you notice in this region is the wind… it rarely lets up. It is said that in the summer months, they can get as strong a 81 mph. It happens so often that the town has erected ropes to help get around in the city. 

Second thing… were the dogs, they were everywhere. In some countries, the dogs look malnourished, and diseased, but not here in Punta Arenas. They all looked fed, just a bit scruffy. I saw hundreds in this town, and can’t remember any looking worse for the wear. While I am drawn to take plenty of pictures of them, I’ll spare you from posting them all. But a few stood out, and will deserve mention. Like this one below:  

A Targeted Flock

This stray dog walked the pier beams on the Straits of Magellan in attempt to get closer to his target, a flock of Imperial Cormorants. While you can’t tell from this image, the winds are blowing in gusts up to 45 mph. I keep thinking the wind will knock him off his ‘pedestal’, so to speak.

I too am having difficulty standing, and have to brace myself to take the shot. He can’t get across the open section to quite reach them, but he stalks them for over an hour from different positions and angles before finally giving up in defeat.  There are four other dogs standing near the crowd of people, but they dared not attempt the feat.  The birds were plentiful, many species exclusive to this region. An Imperial Cormorant with its dark yellow breeding crown on left, and though I haven’t attempted to identify this Seagull yet… have you ever seen a beak so orange on one as this?  Then there is these interesting steamer ducks.  A birder’s delight!

As I had spent over an hour at the historic ‘Muelle Loreto’ pier already, it was time to move on through the city. I’m amazed at how much a person can experience in just a short time span. While I move fast, I stop often. I rarely linger in an area unless I’m focused on something unique. Either I’m waiting patiently for my turn at a shot, or waiting for people to get out of my shot. While I love people watching, I rarely shoot them as I feel as if I’m invading their privacy, and I don’t want to have to edit them out of significant images as that takes time. Besides, people pictures don’t sell well, so they are usually just for my own memories. Now with this new blog, I can include them into the story and share experiences with you.  Like these two guys completely obliterated… maybe they were at the same establishment earlier.  I bet they both had a good time!  One now is sleeping while sitting up, shifting positions every so often and the other I have to give credit too; no matter how many times he fell down, he just kept getting up. I would have helped but I was quite some distance away with the telephoto. His simple task was made more difficult as it was an uphill climb. Thankfully this is a big pedestrian town, so he doesn’t have to worry about getting hit. He fell quite a few times while I was watching. There’s no telling how many times till he got home. Poor guy!

There is a lesson to be learned here, and I think it will be to wear knee pads before heading out for a day of drinking! Or in my case… before heading out for a photography session. I wasn’t paying attention before coming across these two men and I tripped on a chunk of missing pavement, and landed hard on my knee. If you fall and nobody sees you, does it still hurt? Yes… for weeks!!!

If only I had been drunk, or I had been doing this instead.

Paying attention… yeah, this definitely would have helped!

There wasn’t much anyone could do for either of us. There was no one to call that could have made a difference. We both were responsible for whatever injuries we had inflicted upon ourselves. Very grateful it was relatively minor… it could always have been worse.

I’m going to say we both woke up pretty sore. I hobbled around for days, and it took months to completely heal. I’d bet he had some aches and pains too. Sometimes you just have to walk it off, and push through whatever comes your way.  And always remember  “Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward” – Victor Kiam

As most artists are, I find I’m attracted to lines, shapes, and colors.  This city with a thin tin facade, creatively designed sidewalks, and peeling paint seems to catch my attention wherever I turn. Throw in some graffiti, some gray storm clouds, a bunch of dogs and I can’t get enough of the visual adventure!

As I make my way around the outskirts of the city to reach a higher vantage point so I can capture the city and its charm from above, I find the perfect locations above as well as below.  Volkswagon beetles and flowers, murals made with bottle caps, couples having picnics, graffiti on boarded up buildings, dried up rivers, navigational signs, and ‘locks of love’ are in cities across the globe. Plus everyone needs a good dog vet, here there is no difference.

Mural of bottle caps

The people are very friendly in this town. And most speak English as well as their native tongue, which does make travel easier for us English speaking tourists who know only one language.  As I was heading out of the vegetable market, I noticed a beautiful pigeon. I was so caught up in taking its picture, I didn’t notice a man who was watching me. I think he was curious as to how I could be so entranced by a bird, a pigeon no less. After a few minutes he laughed, and asked me why I was taking a its picture. We talked for a bit, and I told him I was attracted to the colors in its feathers, and the lines in the side walk. I can’t always explain to another what captures my attention. I assume everyone sees the beauty that is right there in front of them. I still don’t think he saw it, though he tried. But he did let me take his picture before it was time to move on. One thing I have learned is a smile is the same in every language. As with photography, words rarely need to be spoken.

The pigeon of discussion. Isn’t it a beauty? Look at it strut!

This is Punta Arenas, come see what it is all about!

For more general information on this vacation location, visit wiki link below: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punta_Arenas

For information on how to get any of these images printed on products for your pleasure, visit my online gallery.

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