We bought tickets from Santiago to Puerto Montt less than 24 hours
before the flight.
I’ve never done that before.
When we landed, we had no idea where we were going to sleep that
night. Or even how to get from the airport to town.
I’m sure it’s not a big deal at all to people who have travelled or
backpacked a lot. But to a planner like me, showing up to a place I’ve
never been where I don’t FULLY speak the language (Chileans talk so
super fast!) with no game plan and having done no research is pretty
out of character. It’s like watching a movie I’ve never seen the
preview for. Makes things a lot more exciting.
We’ve done this a few times now with surprising success. Step 1 is to
ask around the bus terminal or airport for a map. Once you’ve got the
map, things get a lot more manageable.
In Puerto Montt, we easily found a cheap local bus from the airport to
the city. At the bus terminal, we found a stand for hospedajes, which
are sort of like bed and breakfasts. We ended up taking a cab to a
very old lady’s house to stay in her extra rooms.
She was so so sweet but also semi-senile, making for some awkward
moments. She thought there were 4 of us after the 3 of us had been
with her for a full 45 minutes. After settling in, we were ready to go
explore the town. She waved goodbye from the doorway and said “Yo me
quedo aqui.” (I’ll stay here).
Ummm…if you insist?
At our next stop we didn’t have such an easy time. We trudged through
very hot Bariloche with our very heavy backpacks knocking on several
hostel doors. After the 4th “No hay lugar,” Travis started telling
Sarah the story of Jesus’ birth in his best Southern Christian voice
“Sorry sweetie, there’s just no room in this here inn,” and we started
wondering if we’d end up sleeping in a barn too.
Luckily, after turning us down, an awesome hostel guy called 9
different places til he found one with a room for us.
People here have been incredibly nice and helpful with their hand
drawn maps and recommendations and spontaneous tours, so much so that
we’ve come to trust that as long as there’s someone around, we can
wander without much of a plan and be just fine.