Our last sunset in the Chilean Fjords:

Late this afternoon we made an impulsive landing at the small fishing village of Puerto Laguna. I went ashore with Expedition Leader Tom Ritchie to test the waters. We zigged and zagged our way about several small buoys and arrived at a stony beach that turned to sand above the gentle surf. A very curious Ram¢n and his two grandsons met us. Ram¢n, looking more Indian than not, stood next to his yellow fishing "panga," something firm in the face of the unexpected, his open wooden boat with two hand-carved oars.

Tom told him we were eighty or so people with a keen interest in the forest, the birds, and the flowers. Ram¢n nodded his head, smiled, and seemed to think this was very good indeed. We asked if there were roads or trails; he said, "No," but waved his arm toward the beach and said we could walk there, and he pointed towards his house and told us there was a lovely lagoon behind it.

Soon his awe gave way to enthusiasm, which was clearly reflected in the sparkle of his grandson's eyes. He gestured towards the sea, towards the buoys; perhaps we would be interested in buying a few crabs? Perhaps indeed! Tom radioed the Caledonian Star and our Hotel Manager, Bob Houston and Chef, Mats Loo were in the first Zodiac to arrive ashore.

Meanwhile the eighty or so enthusiasts spread out to the left and right, along the beach and woods, and many ultimately moved up a small stream, black with tannins, where there was a way to the lagoon. Other folks investigated the settlement of three simple houses, gardens, and eleven people, all members of the same extended family. In "town" a handful of sheep posed for pictures, skittered off like a woolly school of fish, and reappeared for yet more photos. A lone dog sat and barked at no one in particular, and two cats lay in a pane-less window washing and sunning, favoring us with an occasional, almost interested glance.

On the beach, Bob and Mats critically examined fresh Cancer crabs, much like Dungeness, and we loaded two large coolers-full onto a Zodiac; to me they were a precious cargo like unearthed chests from a Treasure Island. But we weren't done yet! At the Caledonian Star there was another yellow panga full of spiny orange king crabs and we bought these too. The cost: flour and shirts, postcards and sugar, and a number of other consumables, no money was wanted, although it was offered. And how were the walks on this spur-of-the-moment landing? The only answers I have were gleaned from an immensity of smiling faces!