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The following description of Punta Arenas, the Chilian seaport of Magellan Strait, is taken from a letter from a New Zealander who stayed there for a short while during his journey to Terra del Fuego.—

We arrived here (Punta Arenas) at 7 p.m. (February 17th.) The Patagonian coast is very flat, but Terra del Fuego has plenty of hills in the distance. We had in our saloon an old Shaw, Savill captain, who assisted in the survey of the Straits, so he was able to point out all the places of interest. In one place the coast on both sides came in till it did not look a mile across, but lie assured me that it was close on five. By 7 p.m. we were anchored, and were at once surrounded by boats filled with howling Dagoes. I caught a man who knew a very little English, and as we had very little Spanish amongst us negotiations to get our luggage ashore did not proceed at any great pace. He led off by asking thirty dollars (37s 6d — the dollar in these, party is worth 1s 3d, 20 cents are about 3d). I offered ten dollars. After a long argument he came down to 26s I rose to £1. Well, these fellows who rowed us ashore earned-their money, as nine of us, with our luggage, made a good load, and they had to take us a good half mile. The skipper had a brand new white handkerchief of which he was very proud, and as he had to stop rowing every few minutes to produce and flourish it, progress was very slow.

The town is built at the foot of a low range of hills, all thickly wooded. We climbed a hill at the back of the town, and from there had a splendid view of it, and it made quite a pretty picture, with the harbour dotted with ships, the blue Straits beyond, and the hills of Terra del Fuego in the distance, and away beyond the white tops of some mountains. The town has a population of 10,000 and is a town of many colours — and also many smells. Every other house is a drinking shop, and each has its own peculiar smell, and every vacant section has at least two or three of its own but on the whole it does not come up to Monte Video in that line, but then perhaps the sun is not strong enough to ripen the smells here. Most of the houses are built of galvanised iron and painted several colours, and the effect is rather striking at a distance. There are some fine buildings going up in brick now. The streets are very rough, and only a few have any attempt at pavement. There is a cathedral, rather a fine building. At present this is a free port, so things, are fairly cheap, and most of them are English. Nearly all the works are bossed by English. An English firm is building the reservoir and doing other public works, and the Chilian cruiser in the harbour is commanded by an Englishman. One of our men was addressed by a man who said he was a "sky-pilot," and a fine fellow he is — Canon Aspinall, the only Protestant parson in these parts, and all the Protestants go to his church. His vestry consists of two English, two Presbyterians, two Methodists, and a Lutheran. He has been eighteen years in these parts, six of which were spent in Terra del Fuego. Seven of us went to his church on Sunday, and what seemed very strange was having prayers for the President of the United States and the President and Government of Chili. We are having lovely weather, and __ tells us the winter is very little worse than we are used to. Most evenings I go for a stroll up the hill at the back of the town. It is nice and cool up there, and the harbour looks pretty with the ships with their lights dotted about, and the town in darkness, and then, in a second, the hundreds of electric lights in the streets all light up together.

Source: "Marlborough Express" (NZ), 13 June 1906
Clipped: 22-IX-2012
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