There is not a lot to see in Punta Arenas, but we had time to visit a museum and the cemetery. The museum is a strange amalgamation of natural history, with galleries of stuffed local animals, cultural history, highlighting the geographic, scientific and socializing efforts of the Catholic missionaries, with a newer section dedicated to and, I’m sure, paid for by mining and drilling, which likely sustains the community these days.
In the taxidermy section we were able to put names to some of the birds we had seen during the drive from Calafate, including the ñandu, or lesser rhea (an emu-like bird), the cisne de cuello negro, or black-headed swan (a black-headed swan-like bird) and the flamenco chileno. which I didn’t know existed. In the religious section, we saw the sillón utilized pur el Papa Juan Pablo II en su visit a Magellenas el 4 de Abril de 1987. It was covered in plastic, like the furniture in Frank and Estelle Costanza’s house in Seinfeld.
However, my favourite feature was the small section on Shackleton’s Antarctic misadventures because it featured a plaque dedicated to Luis Pardo, the Chileno sailor who rescued the Ingleses from Isla Elefante. Where else would this man, without whom the expedition may well have ended in greater disaster, be recognized? [Read more…]