Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chiloe

To come to Chiloe you have to make the effort. There are no airports on this island and so a ferry ride is the mode of transport. As we boarded the ferry a man from sernatur approached us and asked if we would talk a little about our travels through Chile. So now we are famous. Check back for details. The ¨carabineo¨at the exit of the ferry picked us out of a line of 10 cars to be the receivers of a quick document check. Then we were on our way. Our first stop was Ancud- the second biggest city on Chiloe. Tourist info was a great help to plan the rest of our visit and the delicious coffee gem we found was just what we needed before making our way to Punihuel - the site where 2 species of penguins (the Humbolt and Magallanes)  come to an island just off the beach to lay their eggs. Time on the island is a sparse 25% of their life. The boat tour to view the penguins up close was great- baby penguins jumping out of the water onto the rock island, beatiful birds overhead - ducks and a rare cormorant species. oh- and an otter appeared as the tour was ending and jumped on the rocks to enjoy lunch. after the tour we followed a recommendation to eat empanadas (which sounds weird being on a rich fishing beach), the empanada was locos-queso (a mix of delicious cheese and abalone). a bumpy ride back up the road we visited a few of the beaches on the peninsula northwest of Ancud. On one of these beaches a small ¨homemade¨ prehistory museum appeared. A man had begun collecting artifacts around the area and had compiled a bunch of items- some would call it junk, others treasure, we lie somewhere in between. It was time to find a place to relax for the evening so we drove south to Castro-the largest city on Chiloe. After a few stops checking on rooms and prices we decided to check the tourist info office in the main plaza. We magically ended up at our best accomodation in Chile so far- a small hotel built on the traditional ¨palafitos¨- basically houses on stilts over water. In Chiloe at this time of year it gets dark at 10 pm so we had plenty of time to enjoy our surroundings.

on the ferry to Chiloe

penguins!

birds above penguins...must be lunch time

Puente Quilo Prehistory "museum"

view from our hotel

The next morning we ventured northeast to Dalcahue to visit a church and the town, and then to Isla Quinchao by short ferry where we meandered down dirt roads to more churches and rocky beaches with calm waters and fishermen crossing the tiny islands back and forth. It was a relaxing day, although lots of driving. In Achao, another small town, M got a haircut, we visited another church, had sandwiches on the beach, and observed as the yearly firemen benefit rally was taking place. The grand prize... a brand new shiny fridge.
Back to Castro for a pit stop, some potential shopping, and some fuel- coffee, not gas, we were off to Chonchi. Yet another small town south of Castro. Here we had a grilled salmon at the local ¨cocineria¨ small restaurant on a pier. Then it was time to head back home, or what is home until tomorrow.

typical

nicer than typical

above the "big city" of Achao

typical

palafitos

In sum, Chiloe was chill. The weather treated us well, if you consider that it rains well over 80% of the year. The towns were all very serene, nestled amongst rolling hills, with sheep grazing, cows sleeping, and kids playing. The famous wooden churches found all along Chiloe are important sites for many, we visited just a handful and got our fix. The penguins were grand, our hotel was divine, the food was ok, the views were inspiring, and our time is up. Next up is the Patagonia and the famous Torres del Paine... Stay tuned!

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