The two Frenchmen told me that they had slept over at the place of a woman named Gloria from CouchSurfing in Puerto Natales. Since I did not feel comfortable at all in the abandoned factory and needed a shower I decided to go to an Internet cafe and write her a message. Then, I passed by the supermarket to get some food and in the meantime while I was having lunch I received a long reply in Spanish from which I just grasped that there would be no problem to stay over at her place. I went to the address which Gloria has given me and there I met her husband and a Russian guy at about my age. I told them I wanted to stay over for a couple of days and they send me back to pick my luggage which I had left in the factory.

Gloria lives with her husband Oscar and her four kids in a house which is both a pub and a hostel exclusively and very generously hosting people from CouchSurfing. When I returned to the house two Dutch had arrived - a girl and a boy and Alex, the Russian, was waiting for his girlfriend Karina who had to return from Torres del Paine the next day.

A little later, I went to the shop and bought potatoes and other products. I started preparing dinner for all - potatoes in an oven. To cook for 12 people turned out to be slower than I expected so we ended up sitting around the big table and having dinner at about 1 o’clock in the night.

On the next day I decided that stay over and slept late. When I woke up, the Dutch couple has already parted but long after a new person arrived - Stacy from USA, who I found quite interesting. She has been traveling for quite some months around South America mainly in Peru

and Chilly with a daily budget similar to mine - around 5 dolars. Interestingly, she was earning her money by selling hand-made earings, bracelets, necklaces and other such things made from threads, dry seeds, wire and gems. Her main method of transportation was hitchhiking but from place to place she was also using buses. All her products were exhibited on a board made out of PVC tubes and a clothe. This way of earning money interested me very much since I myself have tried to make similar bracelets long time ago and I know that I could do it alright.

The daughter of Gloria was even more excited and was exhibiting the products of Stacy to all newcomers the following 2 days. On the next day we decided to go out and try to sell some of them. It was Sunday but also elections day for both president and government. The first idea of Stacy was to go by the school where the elections ballots were located but around there were policemen, therefore we went to the central street and set on a corner.

The cheapest bracelet was about 1000 pesos, which is about 2 dollars. Hence, couple of items sold per day would be sufficient at least on theory since it is not possible to do that every day.

Together with us there was also Alison (the little kid of Gloria) who was having fun with the two flags for juggling of Stacy. An hour later Alison and me returned to the house for lunch (even though it was half past three already), but before that I bought Stacy bread and 2 bananas since she had only 1000 pesos and wanted to stay selling. At the end she managed to sell only one bracelet for 1000 and another for 2000 then she made dreadlocks of the beard of an Israeli guy for 2000. In the evening, the two French girls who we expected to return from the park appeared as well as Alex’s girlfriend. The people around the table were a lot once again but this time I decided to prepare a soup of lentils since all of them wanted that I cook something Bulgarian, the only problem was that I could find neither savory nor mint so I ended up seasoning the meal just with а spice mix I have from home.

On the next day I was considering to leave but I still did not feel ready. There were couple of difficult choices to make. The first was a bit easier - which frontier-post I should take to return to Argentina - the one at Cero Castilo or the one at Rio Turbio. The next decision was not so urgent but worried me more. Where I should head to after El Chalten - the deserted but beautiful and rainy Carretera Austral in Chili or less deserted and dry Ruta 40 in Argentina. Carretera Austral seems very difficult to reach since it requires passing through a stretch of 30 km deserted road, then 15 km detour around a lake and 10 km by food through forests up to the frontier with final 45 dollars for a boat to cross another big lake. Ruta 40 appeared more accessible but Alex has told me that they tried to follow it with Karin resulting in staying on a spot for 3 days without seeing a single car passing by. Either way, I did not feel ready to leave and spend the day in writing the stories about Torres del Paine.

In the meantime Tes and Marrion, both French girls had left hitchhiking to El Calafate. Their place was taken by Ali - half American, half Chilian and her boyfriend - half half American, half Mexican whose name I did not recall. The entire attention of Alison was focused on Ali and I could finally spend some time chatting with Stacy without interruption every 2-3 sentences. She wanted to go to the park but not only she did not have any money but was also coughing quite bad. Thus, she was mulling over going to Punta Arenas and looking for a job on a tourist boat for some time after which returning to Puerto Natales in order to go to the park.

I had to lighten up my bag-pack. I threw away all the boxes of the medicines, removed a zipper from the bag of my clean clothes, got rid of a swimming suite, gave one of my thermo leggings, little towel and socks to Stacy who accepted them warmheartedly. I also got rid of a camp shower, a wash basin and at last decided to leave my camp gas since it did not get in use at all. I gave it to Stacy once again so she could sell it somewhere.

On the next day I was ready to go. I bid farewell to everybody and was back on the road.

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