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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Chiloé

The last weekend that my parents visited took a bus to meet them and we drove (in a rental car) to Chiloé which is a big island right of the coast that is just a little bit south of the Lake District. I took and overnight bus to get there and the bus ride was uneventful until the end when I got up to go to the bathroom. The bathroom was occupied so I waited outside for and minute and then….Dumbledore emerged from the bathroom! (it is possible that it was Gandolf, could have been either) This guy had really long white hair and a really long white beard and was wearing a robe kind of thing with a sash tied around it, I thought it was very exciting. He was probably going to visit the Chiloé Wizarding School but who knows…

Let me start by saying that we were warned of lots of rain. In this area it rains a good portion of the year and this time of year is the start of the really heavy rain. The four days we were in the region we didn’t get a drop of rain and it was even sunny every single day, not even overcast, so we were very lucky. It did get very cold but we lucked out with having no rain. To get to Chiloé you have to take a ferry and bring your car on the ferry. This wasn’t the type of ferry that you think of when you think of big ferries that you drive you car onto the bottom and go sit up top. It was much more like a big boat that just had a giant platform to drive the cars onto and then not much else. Once we got onto the island we drove into Ancud which is the first town you get to. There was not much to do there without taking a tour and we were planning to spend the night somewhere else and so we took a look around the artisan market and the fish market and left. We considered a penguin tour but we were told there are no penguins this time of year…oh well. We drove further south to a little town called Dalcahue which is just a little fishing village that this time of year was free of tourists which was nice.


The problem we found was that the town was lacking in places to stay. There was a nice hotel but it seemed pricey and unnecessary so we found a hospedaje which is like a place that just rents out simple rooms. This particular place was run out of a restaurant as many of the hospedajes are and was slightly sketchy. We got two tiny little rooms. My room had two beds. One was like like a board, the other was way to soft and you just sunk into the bed. I chose the saggy one over the board. It got really really cold at night and no way did this place have a heater, so we were freezing! There were tons of blankets on the beds so once in bed it was fine but the problem was keeping ourselves warm and entertained until it was a reasonable hour to go to bed. Oh, the other bad idea (besides staying there) was eating dinner in their restaurant… We told the owners that we would be leaving early in the morning and they said that was fine. To come in and out you walk through the restaurant. We woke up in the morning and walked downstairs with our suitcases and the door to the restaurant is locked and beyond that the door out of the restaurant is locked. So we snooped around and found a door that lead out back where there were a lot of cats and trash, walked around the side of the building and found a gate that was unlocked and led to the street.

One of the big attractions in Chiloé are the churches. There is at least one church in every town but sometimes several (these are really small towns) and they are all the same very distinct style. Here are some examples from around the island.



Day two. The next day we went to a smaller island off of Chiloé. We also had to take a “ferry” there and this ferry was even smaller and more of just a platform than the last one. It was nice to have a car because we basically just drove around the island. There is a main road that goes through the towns but we turned of onto side roads and just saw lots of rural villages, fishing beaches, and amazing views.

That afternoon we took the ferry back to the main island and drove to Castro, probably the most well known city on the island. There are lots of spots in Castro with brightly painted houses that sit on stilts in the water. Most of these houses are pretty run down and poor but they are a huge tourist attraction, and you can see why, they are very cool.


I am a fan of reflection pictures (Becca- I’m not try to out do your picture…I liked yours a lot)

Here is a picture of the hotel we considered staying just because it looked so cool but didn’t stay in. By the way it is called El Unicornio Azul which means the blue unicorn…I think the pink unicorn would have been a more appropriate name, but maybe that’s the point.

Hotel number two. After the previous night we were more careful about picking a place to stay and found a cute little place and made sure it had a heater. So the place turned out to be perfect…but there was a huge party in a restaurant across the street that lasted all night playing loud music until about 6am and so we didn’t sleep very well.

Day three. The next day we drove to the national park on the island. We took a short hike that took us through the most dense forest I have ever seen. There we trees and vegetation everywhere, it is hard to describe and so little sunlight that gets in that even with our luck of having no rain everything is really wet and the path is very slippery. There are wooden bridges you have to walk up and down because in many parts the vegetation is so thick that tree trunks cover the ground and it can’t be cleared. I think the guide book says it was a rain forest, I don’t know what qualifies as a rain forest but I guess we were in one.


After being in the rain forest, me and my mom took a short hike out to a beautiful deserted ocean beach. About halfway there is became necessary to take off our shoes because the path went right through about 4 inch deep water, so we walked the rest of the way to the beach barefoot in the water and sand.

We left the park and drove off the island and up to Puerto Varas to spend the night. Puerto Varas is at the south end of the lake district and a city with lots of German influence (lots of German people, architecture, food, etc.) Hotel three, a hotel run by Germans turned out to be the best one so far, it was very nice…but my mom insists that that lady mumbled some mean comment under her breath but we don’t know if that actually happened. We drove into the city to have dinner. After driving around for a while looking for parking we decided to park in the underground parking lot of the supermarket. We went and had a very nice dinner but when we went to get the car, the supermarket was closed, and the parking lot was closed with one of those big metal doors that roles down covering the entrance way. There were some people cleaning up in the supermarket and so we banged on the window, and through the window tried to tell someone our car was stuck in the parking lot. He motioned to go around the back. We walked down a side street to the back exit of the parking lot and just found another locked metal door. So we started knocking on the big door, and someone actually came, opened the door, didn’t seemed phased at all and let us go get our car and didn’t make us pay for parking at all. In the US no one would ever just open the door and let you out with no fee…anyway that was an adventure.

The next day we drove further north to Valdivia, a town near the coast on a river. One of the guide books we had said it was the most beautiful city in Chile. It is a beautiful town but I don’t know if you can make that claim. But it did look completely different than any city I have seen so far in Chile. I think I have mentioned before (maybe not) that Chile reminds me a lot of California in that it has every kind of environment. The other think that is like California is that there are lots of earthquakes. In 1960, there was an earthquake in Valdivia that was the strongest earthquake that has ever been recorded in the world. Valdivia also had lots of German influence and previous to 1960 was filled with big German style mansions but most of the town was destroyed in the earthquake and so many of the buildings are newer and only a few old restored buildings remain. Unfortunately my dad woke up sick and so spent most of the day sleeping in the car. Me and my mom through the fish market along the river which was very fun.

There are lots of sea lions in the river that come and hang out outside the fish market to get the fish that the vendors toss back in. These are nothing like the sea lions at Pier 39, they were literally twice as big and a lot less noisy.

My dad worked up the energy to go on a boat ride down the river with us. The boat company couldn’t hassle anyone else into coming on the boat and so we got a private boat tour and spent most of the ride talking to the guide about Chilean politics.

To end the very nice weekend, on the overnight bus ride back to Santiago I got sick and once we got to Santiago my mom got sick too. So we all took it easy, sleeping a lot and not doing much for the day and a half my parents were in Santiago. For our last dinner together…well none of us were up for eating, so we didn’t have a last Chilean dinner.

I don’t mean to end on a bad note, but that is what happened. Besides the whole being sick thing, it was great weekend and all the bad hotels and getting locked in parking lots just added to the adventure. That was a really long post, thanks for making it to the end (if you did).

3 Comments:

At 7:14 PM, May 15, 2006, Blogger Becca said...

I did.... make it to the end of your post. I was almost overwhelmed by its length but it had to be done (and considering the length of my post about break I really have no right to think anything is long... not that I expected everyone to read that). Good thing I read it since you specifically stuck a sentence in for me! Haha. Take all the beautiful pictures you want Sari. I will attempt to capture Australia in my non-photographer lens of the world... and you can capture Chile with your wonderful photographic sense and love of reflections. Silly Sari. It sounds like you had quite the adventure... I'm glad you got to do so many things with your parents! love you much wonderful Sari - Becca

 
At 8:36 AM, May 26, 2006, Anonymous Jake said...

I know that this wasn't the focus of your post, but I can't believe you saw dumbledore. Maybe there's still hope for the wizarding world...

 
At 11:52 AM, May 30, 2006, Blogger Talia said...

Love reading about your adventures! Those pictures of the houses are great. By the way... I am so jealous of your family. sigh. Happy Birthday!

 

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