Generally speaking, the rest of our time in Patagonia was unremarkable. Our plan had been to rent a car and drive the Carretera Austral, but that turned out to be impossibly expensive. From El Chalten, we basically just stumbled our way back into Chile and up the coast, until we reached Puerto Montt where Clays departure was scheduled. There were beautiful moments though, especially during a few bus rides, and some other unexpected highlights. Vast plains, green valleys, huge mountains, and ridgelines that look like the crooked teeth of some predatory fish.
An aside: Israelis travel in huge numbers, and they aren’t especially popular. They tend to band together and stick to routes well worn by other Israeli backpackers. They have a reputation of being loud, inflexible, and more interested in bringing Israel to the world than expanding their perspectives. I was beginning to buy in to the stereotypes, but wasn’t happy about it. Shortly after El Chalten I told Clay that I needed to somehow expose myself to more Israelis for longer. It’s too easy to see a caricature from a distance.
So, I couldn’t complain when we arrived in Coyhaique, and two guys who noticed we looked lost led us to a hostel that we quickly learned was “99.9% Israeli.” The hostel was a total dump and was overcrowded, but the only out would have been to tell a room full of Israelis that they had bad taste, or that I wasn’t fond of their kind. Give it a night, I thought to myself.
Coyhaique is a stopover town, and offers little more than a couple good fishing spots. It’s especially bleak when the weather is bad and the fish aren’t biting. But here’s the moral of the story: We spent 4 days failing to find a car, fishing without much luck, sleeping in a shithole hostel, exploring a bummer of a town, suffering through a rain storm, surrounded by Israelis, and somehow had a great time. There had been good people, quirky places, a wonderful lady cooking breakfasts, and a life that was delightfully different. It all culminated in a homemade burrito dinner on the last night, where Clay and I watched 15 stoned Israelis devour 2 bowls of guacamole we’d made for them, and we thoroughly enjoyed their company. Go figure.