Monday, November 16, 2009

Chilly Chile!

Arrived safely in Chili Nov10 at 3:30am after an overnight flight and still feeling stomach sick from Saturday night´s episode (stomach problems all week, only just feeling better now... ugh) Add on bank machine, taxi and bus tickets troubles and you don´t get the best start. However, everything worked out and we caught the 14 hour bus at 6:00 for Puerto Montt, got a decent place to stay there that night too.
Nov.11 – Ferry tickets = success! Then wandered around the rest of the day as the ferry loading wasn´t until 8pm (though it didn´t end up leaving until 2am, such is time in Chili, even worse than Ecuador!) Shopping (notebook and shoulder bag since my otvalo bag from last year finally went kaputt), new phone chip (a hassle I won´t go through for the other countries so call me now if you want to (56)87664731), internet and food for the ferry.
Nov12 – All day on the ferry, definitely not a cruise ship! But it had comfy midget-sized beds and hot showers. Nothing to do other than watch a few awful movies, which we didn´t. Played some cards with some shipmates, read and learnt some German. Oh and making delicious picnics of fruit, bread, cheese and yogurt!
Ferry landed at night in the pouring rain (which really hasn´t stopped since then!) and we made our way to Puerto Aysen by taxi to get a hostel for the night.
Nov13 – Finally of to do something! Bus through gorgeous scenery to the region´s main city Coyhaique. Main city but really smaller and more isloated than Nelson! We walked all afternoon (nice after sitting on planes, buses and ferries although I still wasn´t feeling well) to a national forest reserve which said closed but we went in anyway, turned out it was just closed because all the park, etc workers are on strike since it´s almost elections here. Hiked into the Laguna Verde and back out, fresh air and scenery. Went out for dinner with a fellow German traveller from the ferry at a place that from the outside looked completly closed (peeling turquoise paint, faded sign and boarded up windows) but was actually a very chic place on the inside with delicious food, best meal so far.
Nov 14- Up early and off to Puyuhuapi in the north, tiny village originally founded in the 1930's by 4 crazy German´s. Almost 6-hour bus ride up the Carretera Austral which all for being the main highway connecting Patagonia to northern chili is really just a rough gravel road! Spectacular scenery again though even with the rain.... incredible. We stayed in Casa Ludwig a nice lodge run by one of the founder´s daughters. Went to the nice but very expensive and small hot springs (3 dirty pools on the edge on of the sea) and then for a walk around the village in the rain and for dinner in the evening before curling up in the common room with our books. Tiny place, and since the volcano erupted last year in Chaiten and everyone left there, there is only one a bus a week on wednesdays that head north. (hence the fact I am now back in Coyhaique waiting to the overnight bus via Argentina...)
Nov15- Off to explore Parque National Queulat famous for it´s blue hanging glacier. Unfortunately we could only barely catch a glimpse of it because of the pouring freezing rain and clouds. But the vegetation was cool, huge ferns, wild spiny rhubarb, short bamboo, huge evergreen trees, deciduous trees with bright orange flowers....
Got absolutely soaking wet, it still beats how people (and I must include myself..) will pay quite a lot to slog through mud and physically exhaust themselves just to see some scenery and get soaked to the skin. Ruined my only pair of shoes....
But of course when I´m old and sitting by the fire I won´t remember that and it will all be more than worth it!
Bus in the afternoon back to Coyhaique, trying to stay warm since we were soaking not having any other clothes with us.... yuck.
Relaxed in the hostel in the evening reading last week´s edition of Femme Actuelle direct from France, travelling brings on the randomest experiences.
Nov 16 (today) Running errands after a week in the road. Groceries for our 19-hour overnight bus ride tonight, laundry since I only have 2 pairs of pants (amazing how little you really need), internet... and we stopped by the free local museum too. Incredible how they settled this wild area.
Chili.... does not feel like South America and I´m constantly surprised to hear salsa music and hear Spanish (albeit with a very different fast and sing-song accent). Much more like Eastern Europe (a ton of German immigrants) or somewhere... except that they do not know how to make bread here. In fact the food in general has been pretty disappointing. (and very expensive! Things are almost as expensive as home here!) Except I appreciated the hot black tea and the hot seafood soup.
It´s cold, that damp coastal cold. It´s the equivalent of our May here but the rain and wind never stop. Plus no central heating so it´s freezing inside too unless you´re right next to the wood stove! It´s normal to wear coats and toques inside. But, the hot showers are amazing!! I love them! And the beds too, soft and piled with more blankets than you can count. True cocoons.... so hard to get up in the morning!
It really does remind me of home. But I have to say the scenery is even more incredible here. Snow-capped peaks all the way down to cows grazing in green meadows. Huge trees and tropical plants (right below a glacier? Amazing.)
So far the people, once you get talking to them are very nice and helpful and everything being very rural, is so safe. There are even crosswalks with green men and cars actually stop for pedestrians!
So... one week down and 6 to go. Pictures are going to have to wait as we have been using Simone´s crazy nice camera and the pictures are too big to upload unless I can get a few off my phone.

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