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Patagonia | Part IV

The trip ended with visits to two cities - Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas. Puerto Natales is a quaint little fishing village. I had a great view of the harbor from my room at Hotel Costa Australis. The weather was dicey with big winds and horizontal rain. I watched the boats, anchored in the bay, rock violently in the waves. The evening photoshoot was cancelled but the weather improved by morning the next day.

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The first stop of the day was a fishing boat graveyard where old fishing boats go to decay. Overhead (and to the left) there was blue sky. Looking out at the water (and to the right) there were dark storm clouds. The result - absolutely gorgeous light.

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As I wandered around, I spotted an old man peering out of a burned-out boat. I asked (thru gestures) if I could take his portrait. He nodded his head so I took several pictures of him. At the time I wished I had some cash on me to give him. He looked down on his luck. Later, our guide Cecelia, went over, talked to him and got his story. He is living on the boat. It was his boat and he used to be a fisherman. These days no one will hire him because of his activism against large corporate salmon farming operations that had moved into the area. These farms threaten the livelihood of the little guy and destroy large portions of the aquatic ecosystem. One night when he was sleeping in his boat, someone torched it. He was burned and spent a stretch of time in the hospital. [Click here] for a link to an article in the Patagon Journal, dated June 4, 2010, about the corporate salmon farming controversy in Puerto Natales.

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The view of the big expensive yacht (to the left) and colorful fishing boats tied to the pier seemed at odds with the dilapidated boats I stood amongst.

Our final stop was Punta Arenas. It is the southernmost city in South America and is referred to as “the end of the world”.

In Punta Arenas, we went to a bay where fishermen were busy at work. The crew was unloading the fruits of their labor - sea urchins. They dive in the cold ocean waters for these creatures. The unloading process involves putting the urchins in plastic containers, bringing them to shore where they are loaded on a skid and ultimately a truck. There were three boats waiting their turn to do the same (see images above).

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Punta Arenas is the capital city of Chile's southernmost region, Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica Region. It overlooks the Straight of Magellan.

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I spent time exploring the city of Punta Arenas the next morning with a couple workshop participants who had later flights out like me. The city is known for murals painted on buildings along the waterfront.

Detail shots of the panoramic mural above (click to enlarge).