We show up first thing in the morning at the Navimag office in Coyhaique. There is already a queue. We wait our turn and then explain to the woman at the desk what we’d like to do. Despite a large sign that reads, in English, “Purchase Tickets Here”, she says she can’t sell us tickets for the ferry sailing from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales. We have to do that in Puerto Montt. We explain how we don’t want to ride for 24 hours on a bus to Puerto Montt if we can’t be assured of a ticket on the ferry.
After some heavy typing on her keyboard she is able to get into the reservation system and tells us that the boat is full for the next four weeks (it only runs once a week). I ask if last minute cancellations are common or if there is a ticket waiting list and she replies, flatly, that she doesn’t know. Even though this is all in Spanish I can hear the irritation in her tone. Sass sounds the same in any language. I ask if perhaps she can call the office in Puerto Montt and maybe they would have additional information. She dials the number, lets it ring a few times and hangs up. She stares back at me, looking miffed that I have the audacity to come into her ticket office on a Monday and try to purchase tickets!
This ferry is not cheap. It’s a 3-night cruise and tickets start at US$450 a person. You’d think that might elicit some customer service. No, this lady is fresh out of give-a-fucks.
The universe has spoken. After our disappointing visit to the Navimag office, we can the idea of taking the boat south. With little else to do in Coyhaique, we decide to get on the bikes and ride. When we return to the hotel we find Mamá Gorda who runs the joint is pissed because it’s 10:30 and check-out is at 10. Why does check-out time keep getting earlier and earlier? We miss Mexico when check-out time was when you were good ‘n ready, and was certainly never before noon.
Our overland route south will still be beautiful, though now we’ll need to tackle the Villa O’Higgins hike and bike crossing to Argentina when the Carretera Austral ends. More on that later. For now we’re both in a funk. We were really excited to travel by sea through the uninhabited and remote islands of southern Chile. And we can’t lie, we were also looking forward to a couple of days of passive travel (the boat does all the work!).