January 26, 2006
It was cold and rainy all day, which seems to be the norm in Punta Arenas. I'm not sure what would make someone want to live here. Winters must be horrible. At least the weather made it a perfect day to check out some museums.
The first museum I went to was the Museo Naval y Maritimo (the Naval and Maritime museum). It was full of old Naval stuff and information about the important battles that took place in this region. There was also a video shot around 1930 by an American who sailed with the Navy around Cape Horn, which is the southernmost part of the continent and one of the most difficult places in the world to sail through.
Next, I visited the Museo Regional Salesiano "Maggiorino Borgatello" (the Salesian Regional Museum "Maggiorino Borgatello"). It was an old mansion that was donated by some rich family and turned into a museum. The first few rooms were still set up in their early 20th century decor. I bet they had some wild parties there. Suddenly, as I walked through one of the rooms, I heard a noise that sounded like a veceloraptor. The next room was an exhibit about the extinct animals of the area! It was quite a strange change of pace from the beginning of the museum. The last part of the museum was in the basement and included the servants' quarters and kitchen. Even the servants appeared to live pretty well in this mansion.
My final stop was the Museo Regional de Magallanes (the Magallanes Regional Museum). Opened in 1893, it is one of the oldest museums in Chile. It was also by far the biggest one I visited today. The first floor was full of stuffed animals and included a replica of the Cave of the Hands. The second floor had an exhibit about the local native people. Sadly, most of the original tribes are now extinct. The third level had information about the first Antarctic expeditions. The fourth floor had a bunch of propaganda about how great oil is. It was a pleasant surprise to see so many good museums in the city, although I wouldn't recommend visiting all of them on the same day.
John and I also got tickets to Ushuaia today. I didn't realize this before I got here, but not many buses go to Ushuaia. We got really lucky and got some of the last tickets for Saturday (two days from now), but most of the companies we checked out didn't have any seats available until Monday. Punta Arenas is an OK city, but I wouldn't want to be stuck in the raininess for four more days.