No, not the indigenous or the current natives! I haven’t written much about the other travelers we encountered and spent time with at Explora so I will give a little run down now.
We typically socialized with four other people that had also been on the Via Australis. Like us, they were staying at Explora for four nights.
- Pat & Norm: two Scottish obstetricians that were very nice and humorous and enjoy ‘hill-walking’ in Scotland very much so a friend of theirs had told them about Explora. We didn’t talk all that much to them on the Via Australis, but we recognized each other at the hotel in Punta Arenas and had a drink together there and knew we were all heading to Explora and we just clicked. We always seemed to end up doing different hiking options from them but came together for drinks and dinner in the evening. Every day they would come back from their hike saying the scenery looked just like Scotland! They had also visited other countries that reminded hem of Scotland (i.e. New Zealand) so finally one night Jerry (below) said, “why don’t you just go somewhere that you know won’t remind you of Scotland??!!”.
- Tom & Jerry: These aren’t their real names as I am trying to be a bit discreet. Tom is an Iranian who has been living in the Utah with his Iranian wife and American born teenage kids for for probably over 20 years. He had a very good sense of humor and I got a kick out of him. We had chatted several times on the boat. He was traveling with his friend Jerry who was a bit of a kookey guy. He was about 70 or so and was essentially a trust-fund baby who didn’t seem to have ever worked much. He has travelled to every country in the world except Somalia and Equitorial New Guinea. He has OCD, and whenever he talked about something he tended to give a lot of extraneous, uninteresting information, like exactly how many times he had been to such-and-such a country, etc. How he kept count was impossible to know! He really annoyed Leslie so we tried to stay a bit clear of him and if we sat with them at dinner we tried to make sure we were on Tom’s side. On third night of our stay in Explora they both started the evening with some massive whiskies and then drank through dinner, too. I wouldn’t have said they were big drinkers, but that night they were out to have fun! The following evening (which was our last full day at Explora), Leslie and I were in the common area and along they came and Jerry said “Good Morning!” to us. It was probably about 5pm?? The story goes that they were both too sick (hungover?) to get up for their hikes that day and slept until lunch, then got up just to eat, then went right back to bed! I felt bad for Tom as you could tell he really regretted missing a full day in the park. We never clearly understood what was going on between these two. Nothing “romantic”, the questions we had amongst ourselves were more along the lines of whether Jerry was funding Tom’s trip so he had companionship or if there was some strange tit-for-tat thing going on as we found out that Tom was a nurse and we knew, at minimum, that Jerry had OCD and suspected that he might have had some other ailments and maybe Tom was minding him in some manner.
- The French Family: Mother, father, and a son in his mid-40s. They weren’t on our Via Australis trip but were actually going to take the boat from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia (essentially they were doing Patagonia in a reverse format that we did). We ended up with them on quite a few hikes. They were in Patagonia celebrating the mother’s 70th birthday. There was a sister that didn’t make the trip and David, the son, said that she had been e-mailing him, etc., asking if he had been able to ditch the parents yet, etc. (in particular, the mother). He was quite funny and had a great laugh. He also rode horses so we went together on the second, more advanced, riding option (Santa Gemita, after the quincho bbq).
Others of interest that we enjoyed from a “people watching” standpoint:
- Eight Americans that always sat together at the very same table for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. They were a strange ex-hippy types and Pocahantas was part of this group. There was also one woman that had Michelle Bachmann kind of crazy eyes. Individually they were each a bit odd, then together it was just ever more bizarre
- The “sexy” table: This was a group of 6 or 7 who were in the 30-ish range who just happened to meet each other at the hotel. They consisted of a couple from New York, the guy was very cute but the girl seemed nervous and clingy. A pair of young American doctors, and then the “sexiest” couple that was made up of a blond English girl who had a very nice figure and was going to make sure everyone at the hotel knew it, and her French husband. She was just too much for us. Her clothes were so tight and she would strut around in high heels, etc. (meanwhile, everyone else was very casual) and she had one of those uppity accents and used all sorts of words that normal English speaking people don’t tend to us like “horrendous” and “diabolical” and such nonsense. The husband had one of those stereotypical French accents, too, so together they were perfect. The “or 7” was due to the fact that there was another very attractive Frenchman at the hotel, probably 50-ish, who sometimes sat with the “sexies”. He was married but his wife was not with him for whatever reason.
- “Cher” and her husband: Pat & Norm named her “Cher”, she didn’t look anything like Cher, but she was a total plastic surgery job and weighed about 2 ounces. She was probably in her mid/late 50s but was wrinkle free. Her worst accessory was her husband who helped give her age away, even if there was a big age gap. They would bicker a lot and Leslie seemed to witness a lot of turmoil between the two. They were naturally from California!
- The French loner: this was a very odd girl who was probably mid-30-ish. She had difficulty socializing with anyone, as such she tended to sit alone at meals which was sad, but her doing. One or twice the Frenchman who sat with the “sexies” sat with her but that didn’t seem to work out so well so he abandoned her for the “sexies”.
- The Brazilians: One couple, a man and woman, were very nice and we hiked with them a few times. Then there were two men that were traveling alone and found each other and that seemed to work out quite well! We shared a table with them at the quincho bbq.
Of course, there were others that came and went. There were quite a few Americans, I assume that the long Thanksgiving weekend helped in their choice of timing to visit Patagonia.
All and all, we enjoyed Explora very much, just like our stays in Atacama and Easter Island.
If you were ever to visit, I recommend paying a bit more for the Cordillera rooms as the view of the mountains are simply amazing!