I Was On CNN Chile

I left Puerto Natales. I gave the hostel staff a thank you card thanking them for their kindness especially Pamela, the cleaning lady. She offered me food and she showed her care to me and looked after me.

The Puerto Natales domestic airport was in the middle of nowhere. The landscape and scenery were great. The airport was very very small. It was like an airport for private jets. It was beautiful. Not too windy. It had a bit of the sun, some clouds over the Andean mountains, long golden grass and some yellow and white daisies. Lovely place. Puerto Natales was really beautiful.

Puerto Natales airport
Which way? Torres del Paine or Puerto Natales?
The surrounding area of the airport
A plane taxiing at the airport

The plane ride was like a bus ride on rough roads. It was very bumpy. I was sitting on the aisle seat and the girl sitting at the window seat was so afraid that she curled up in her husband’s arm. I think her husband was afraid too but he didn’t show it. At one stage, it felt like I was riding on a roller coaster. My heart jumped out.

We finally landed. I wished the rest of the passengers who were flying to Santiago would have a safe flight. I think it would be fine. It was bumpy just because of the strong wind. The wind in the south was stronger than in the north.

I got off the plane. Quickly wrote down the address on a piece of paper so that I could show the driver.

I took the bus from the airport to Puerto Montt. I showed the driver the piece of paper and he said bien. I was supposed to have a standing place on the bus but as I was the last one and I was standing closest to the driver, the driver’s assistant offered his seat to me so I didn’t have to stand in the end. 🙂 That was so kind of him.

I walked to the hostel. My backpack was so heavy that once I sat down on the couch at the front door and put my backpack down, I exhaled heavily. The owner laughed.

The hostel was actually a house. She still lived in it. But I don’t know where her room was. All the rooms upstairs were for travellers. We are allowed to use the kitchen but only until 8pm. I needed to go to the bank and get some money. But I thought to myself I would just get it tomorrow.

After I paid and registered, she treated me some tea. I needed to check the availability of the hostel in Chiloe so I sat down and sent a few emails to the hostels. I was hungry so I decided to eat out. The owner Veronica suggested I eat at the market. It was already 9pm. Just happened that two Italian guys came in and we had a quick chat. I asked them if they were interested in going to the market with me. One of them said yes. I was glad because it would get dark soon.

The Italian guy could speak very good Spanish so that was good.

When we were talking and walking towards the market, a group of strayed dogs came. They were barking at each other. When they saw us, they dispersed. One of them lagged behind and that stupid big dog when it walked towards me and when it was standing beside me suddenly barked and bit me!


It hurt! 

I stopped the Italian guy and told him what had happened. He immediately held me up and took me to the side of the pavement where there was a bench and asked me if I was ok and if I needed to go to the hospital.

Oh no!


I said I wanted to check the wound to see if there was any blood. I quickly went to a little store which was closed but they had translucent ‘curtains’. I hid behind the curtains and checked in the dark. I saw some scratches and some blood. It wasn’t deep but it was bad enough for me to decide that I should go to the hospital. (when there was blood, there could be infection.)

We saw a restaurant across the road. I decided to get some food because I didn’t know how long I had to wait at the hospital. We went into the restaurant and I went to the well-lit baños to check my wound again. After I came out, the Italian guy told me the restaurant didn’t do takeaway and I asked for the menu. He told the owner about my situation and then she went to the kitchen and got me a piece of bread. The Italian guy asked her how much? She said no worries. She then went out of her restaurant and told us where to get the taxi and what kind of taxi so the Italian guy took me to cross the road and we hailed one.

We finally got a taxi. He told the taxi driver what had happened to me. There was a lady (I don’t know if she was a passenger) sitting at the front seat. She said the driver would also tell us how to leave the hospital and where to hail a taxi. The whole conversation was in Spanish. I was glad that the Italian guy was with me. Then the taxi stopped and another guy got in the taxi (I think it was a collectivo taxi). After a while, the male passenger got out. Then, the female passenger got out as well. The driver dropped us at the hospital and told us something in Spanish.

The Italian guy took me to the registration and then we were told to go inside. I saw some other patients. (That’s why I didn’t like hospitals.)

We walked into the room to see the nurse.  The nurse measured my blood pressure and checked my wound. I was pointing at the wound and said ‘this one is deeper than the other one and there was blood.’  The nurse said it was ok and that I just needed disinfection and medication. 

I told the nurse I had a cold. The Italian guy helped me to translate. The nurse said ‘it’s not a problem’ and then asked me to wait for the doctor at the waiting area so we went there. The Italian guy asked me if I needed anything. I said I just needed water. I finished eating the bread when we arrived at the hospital. So, he helped me look for water. We could only find a hawker selling water. I bought it and went back inside as it was cold. The Italian guy was concerned. He said he needed to tell his cousin about this because we had been away for sometime. He didn’t want him to be worried. He said he would call him at 11pm if we were still waiting.

We waited.

And waited.

And waited. 

I told him about my travel stories and that I was robbed in Buenos Aires. He said ‘are you collecting bad experiences?’ Mean but funny. He then told me it has his first day in Chile. ‘Oh, sorry! You have to spend it in a hospital.’ I said with embarrassment and a laugh.

I thanked him for taking me to the hospital and he said any human being would do the same. He said if it happened to him, I would do the same for him too. That was so kind of him.

We waited.

It was nearly 11pm. I reminded him to call his cousin.

The doctor finally came. He examined my wound and found no infection so there was no need for me to have any rabies related injection. It was a relief for me. Then the nurse came to disinfect my wound and suggested I receive a tetanus vaccine. All the while, the Italian guy helped to translate Spanish to English for me. I was, again, so glad that he was there.

I received the tetanus shot.

When I paid for the treatment, the Italian guy requested the hospital to write the report in English so that it’d be easier for me to make an insurance claim. THAT WAS SO THOUGHTFUL OF HIM!

I looked at the clock at the hospital.

It was 1am.

When we went back to the hostel, the owner opened the door and as she started complaining about us coming so late, the Italian guy told her what had happened. She was shocked.

The next morning, the owner of the hostel saw me at breakfast and asked me about my wound. Then she called someone. I heard her mentioning my name on the phone. After she hung up, she told me a cameraman would come and take a picture of my wound. What? She then told me he was from the press.

Great! She didn’t even get my consent beforehand.

I said to her, ‘not my face’. She said no, not your face.

I needed to go out to buy something including the prescribed antibiotics and some grocery. When she saw me going out, she said, ‘make sure you will be back before xx p.m. The reporter will come.’ I wasn’t obliged to that. Was I?

As I was getting ready, a German couple appeared at the door so I told them about my plan. They needed to go to the bank too so we went out together. After we finished our business, we walked around the town centre. Guess what I saw? ‘Liquidación’ banners on some shop windows! I was so excited. I said that word aloud and explained the meaning. The German girl was very excited too. She immediately introduced herself and held out her hand. We exchanged names and shook hands. 😀 That was so funny. It turned out the shop didn’t sell clothes. I was a bit disappointed. Her boyfriend said he never knew that word in Spanish. Liquidación. 😀

We decided to have an early dinner at the fish market so we went back to the hostel and left our stuff there. I was checking the hostel in Chiloe as I wanted to go there tomorrow when Veronica told me the cameraman would come soon. I told her we would eat out so she suggested we come back before 7pm.

We selected a restaurant and shared our travel stories during our meal. I told them about my trip in the US (gosh! It was 3 or 4 months ago!) The guy asked me, ‘does your mother have friends in Hollywood as well?’ I said, ‘oh, you mean Brad Pitt? Yes.’ He said, ‘one night with Brad Pitt.’ I replied, ‘yes. Good that Angelina wasn’t there. I don’t like her. I have told Brad about it but he didn’t listen.’ The German girl kept laughing.

I ordered grilled salmon but it wasn’t really that good. The one I had in El Chaltén with Marie and Travis was REALLY good but it was more expensive.

We then went back to the hostel. It started to rain again. The weather was like this in the Lake District all the time. Rain and more rain. We went back at 6:40pm.

The cameraman / the reporter came to the hostel at 6:45pm. It turned out he was from CNN Chile. Veronica wanted us to stay in the dining room so the German couple and I stayed there. I asked the cameraman not to show my face. But he still took shots of the couple and me. When I saw that, I put my woollen hat up and covered my face. I told him briefly what had happened and he took shots of my wound. He interviewed Veronica. The German girl helped the cameraman to hold the mic. That looked so funny. He asked me why I didn’t want my face to be on tv then I could show it to my family. I told him ‘I don’t want them to know’. He said, ‘but they will see your wound.’ That was exactly what I didn’t want. I said, ‘no. They won’t.’

After the cameraman finished his job, he left.

The news was released on the same day at 9pm. I was quite surprised by the efficiency.

More and more people came back to the hostel so we all gathered in the dining room. Another German couple was eating and they offered their bread to me and another German girl. The hostel was full of Germans that night. They were having red wine. It was Veronica’s treat. She was obviously in a very good mood. Of course, she was on tv. That was a big thing for her.

The Italian guy who helped me yesterday and his cousin came back from their excursion to Chiloe island. I told him about the tv interview.

The news was on. We all rushed to the living room to see it. The shot with me covering my face with a woollen hat together with the German girl and her boyfriend were on tv too. (Never trust the reporters). We didn’t look happy at that very moment when the reporter took that shot. But we were having fun before and after that. (Again, never trust the reporters and what you can see on tv. They just like to show the negative side of everything.)

Veronica was very happy. She chatted with us for the whole evening. And then all of a sudden, fireworks started. She told us it was a festival of the town. That added to the excitement. It was great. I saw a heart and a smiley face formed by the fireworks very clearly.

Veronica suggested I go to the municipalidad to raise this issue to the authority. Strayed dogs had been a problem in Chile and Argentina. Before me, there had been tourists bitten by these dogs. Usually, these dogs didn’t cause any problems. I think it was because of the dog Linda in the hostel. Before I left the hostel for dinner that night, Linda rested its head on my lap while I was checking the hostels in Chiloe at the dining table. The strayed dog smelled the scent of Linda so it barked at me and bit me. The bite was at the same location as where Linda rested on me. I told Veronica about it but she said, ‘no, it has nothing to do with my dog’. Anyway, she just wanted to use me to pressure the authority to do something so, the next day, she drafted a letter for me to present to the municipalidad. Having nothing to do anyway, I went with that letter and filed my case.

I presented the letter that Veronica drafted for me to the city mayor. An officer who handled international affairs came. I told him it was a serious problem that they needed to deal with. He said they were dealing with it. I asked if they killed the dogs or sterilised them. He said they sterilised them. But then he said there were just too many strayed dogs and they needed to have a lot of people to deal with it. He wanted to reimburse me the medical expenses but of course in the end, he said he couldn’t because he didn’t have the authority to approve my case to get the reimbursement for me. I told him I didn’t come for the money. I just wanted this problem to be solved. He said this problem was all over Chile. I hope my case could raise the awareness and the government could really do something about it.

They gave me the photocopy of the letter that Veronica drafted for me and they put a stamp on that letter. He said, ‘you can present it to your embassy.’

I left the municipalidad and went to the bus terminus to buy a ticket to Castro in Chiloe.

I went back to the hostel and took my stuff. I wanted to tell Veronica about what I did but she wasn’t there. I told the young cleaning lady instead. I guess Veronica didn’t care. She probably just wanted to be on tv.

I checked in the hostel in Chiloe. It was a palafito in Palafito Pedro Montt. It looked so Asian! Stilt houses basically.

I ran into the German girl who stayed in the same hostel as I did in Puerto Montt. She recognised me first. She said hi to me and asked me if I recognised her. Of course because I told everybody about my dog bite the next morning and she was there. She said Puerto Montt was just like any other port area. And it wasn’t safe. Just like Berlin – it could be unsafe too. And then she revealed that we were actually on the same plane from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt. She was the girl sitting on the floor at the airport looking out of the window and I was standing right beside her also looking out of the window. We also went on the same shuttle bus from Puerto Montt airport to Puerto Montt bus terminus. She saw me talking to the driver and that I had difficulty in carrying my backpack and then the driver helped me. Gee! She saw all these and remembered all these! And I remembered a girl standing behind me at the bus terminus watching the driver help me with my backpack. It was so funny to hear all these from another angle. It was like seeing myself on a camera (Truman Show. lol!). We had a chat and then I went back to my room. (a question pops up as I read my journal now, ‘why didn’t she tell me all these when we were at the hostel in Puerto Montt?).

I wanted to dine out. I asked my roommates if they wanted to have dinner with me and I told them my recent experience with strayed dogs. The American girl quickly said ok and even persuaded the French girl to come. They only had beer and I had a proper meal which I didn’t really liked.

While I was waiting for them at the reception, I asked the receptionist where to go tomorrow. He suggested Achao, which was an island. There was an old wooden church there. He also suggested I go to the other side of the palafitos. There were two sides. The one I stayed at was called Palafito Pedro Montt and the other side was called Palafito Gamboa (Palafito Castro). I decided to go to both places.

The American girl, my roommate, was a nurse. She had a look at the pills I was taking and my wound after dinner. She explained to me that one of the pills was a painkiller so I could stop taking it. But the other one was antibiotic so I had to continue to take it until I finished the course. It was so kind of her. I was so blessed that I met all these kind people.

11 – 13 February, 2013

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