We have spent the day relaxing and preparing for the last push of our trip into Patagonia and then down to the Cape. Puerto Montt is clean, but like most port towns, has a bit of an edge and wouldn't be what you would call a typical tourist town - lots of transient people coming through; dock workers, backpackers, families from the countryside, etc.... In other words a real hodgepodge of people.
Something that seemed to concern a lot of people about our trip was our choice of license plate - the general consensus was a vanity plate that spelled out GRINGOS was an invitation to cause trouble in South America.
While I didn't share that concern, the negative reaction of people in North America to the plate got me worried that we had maybe made a bad choice - however, after over 3 weeks on the road, I can say that the plate has been overwhelmingly positive.
We get many perplexed stares, but also lots of laughs and thumbs up on the road - people will come up to us at gas stations and ask questions about the plate.
The reaction at the border has also been positive once the officials realize it is a real plate (they don't have personalized plates in South America) - we had only one incident in Ecuador, where the officials didn't think it was real. One official in Peru asked (in Spanish) why we put Gringos on the plate - I told him to look at us, we WERE gringos, no? He laughed and said "true" in Spanish.
I believe the key to having fun when you travel is to have a sense of humour, even when things aren't going right or the way you planned. The GRINGOS plate shows others that we aren't taking ourselves too seriously and that we aren't afraid to show who we are - travellers, just passing through.
We have checked in for our ferry tomorrow and actually have to present the car at the port tonight at 11:30 pm, so we will spend tonight aboard the boat as well (we have a private cabin). We will disembark at Puerto Chacabuco on Monday morning and hope to be in Puerto Bertrand in the evening on Monday. I don't think there will be wifi on the boat, so you likely won't here from us again until tomorrow night.
Also, SPOT coverage from here on in may be intermittent - satellite reception gets iffy the further south we travel, and there are gaps, so don't be surprised if the SPOT doesn't pick us up regularly...
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
- Mark Twain