But his speech was short-lived; shortly after, the crew closed the bridge for our approach to Puerto Eden. And indeed this fairy tale seaside village, huddled against the shore, sheltered from the wind by the hill on which it’s built, isolated by hundreds of kilometers of sea, fjords, and wilderness, was a veritable Garden of Eden. But with no apples in sight, Puerto Eden depends on this ferry for survival. As we approached, a flurry of bright yellow skiffs swarmed towards us as if from a hive of floating bumblebees. Unloading at Puerto Eden, the loading ramp of the Amadeo I rumbled open, and the process of unloading goods to this tiny town began. Passengers were allowed down into the loading area to watch the process, which considering the amount of steps involved was rather efficient. Barrels of gasoline, cartons of groceries, and other essentials were loaded onto the skiffs and they puttered away. I managed to snap a picture of toilet paper and Coca-Cola waiting to be unloaded, thinking of course, what more do you need? It seemed as if each skiff was operated by a different family, and both adults and children lent a hand. From the sheltered vantage point inside our ship’s loading area, I realized I had probably set eyes on most of the town’s population during the half-hour process.
After the last skiff pulled away, we were intercepted on our way back to the upper decks by a few Chilean truck drivers who were sharing the ship with us. They had brought barbecue grills on board and lit fires to cook the mussels and clams that they had just bought from the locals at Puerto Eden. They invited us to join them, and we imbibed with wine and freshly-cooked mollusks as our ship continued northwards. With so many different languages on board, most of the communication was smiles, animated hand gestures, and passing around cups of wine.