Chiloe–the island of traditions
Well the fifth weekend of traveling is all done and gone. Lollapalooza, Torres del Paine, La Serena, Mendoza, and the latest, Chiloé and Puerto Varas in the South of Chile yet again, from which I returned this past Wednesday the 2nd of May. It has been a fantastic time, and I have made some great memories that I will never forget! More to come of course—I have decided that studying abroad does a great job of misconstruing your concept of a “real life”—but I guess I can deal with that!
If you were not aware, last Monday was the International Day of Workers (El dia de los trabajadores). Here in Chile, this means we don’t have class and workers don’t work—similar to Labor Day I guess. Once we learned we had an extra day off, my friends Naomi and Emily and I all agreed we’d have to use it to make another trip, this time to the south of Chile yet again, to an island called Chiloé. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilo%C3%A9_Island and http://www.chiloeweb.com/chwb/chiloeisland/imagenes_html/mapas_comunas/mapa_chiloe_completo_prorur.gif) Because we’re here during Chile’s fall and upcoming winter, the weather in the south is very temperamental, for this reason if you want to go south you have to go soon or you’ll be stuck in a lot of rain and snow. We bought tickets for a flight to Puerto Montt on Friday morning, and because we wanted to save money and our flight was pretty early, we found ourselves sleeping in the Santiago airport Thursday night (I’m becoming quite acquainted with this routine). Once we got to Puerto Montt, we bought a few grocery things for the 5 days we’d be traveling and caught a bus to Castro, a town on the island of Chiloé. Our bus travelled to Chiloe in about 2 hours, including a 20 minute ferry ride that was pretty cool. We got to our hostal in Castro in enough time to walk around and explore the city and the church in Castro before night time. An interesting thing about Chiloé is not only the palafitos (stilt-houses, see photos) but also the many Jesuit churches that had been built years ago on the island. Many of them are actually recognized as UNESCO heritage sites.
The next day we dedicated to exploring the National Park on the island (yet another short bus ride) and walked around exploring the country side. We met some other US students from Santiago, who we hung out with a bit also since they were doing some of the same things. We explored a few “ferrías” (craft markets) which were overflowing with homemade wool scarfs, sweaters, or hats—take your pick! The following, and third day we had decided to make our way the city of Dalcahue and onto the island of Quinchao for the day to visit the other towns Curaco de Velez and Achao. These towns were actually quite deserted when we visited, due to the fact we were there during the off season, and also it was a Sunday which is when the majority of things close in Chile. The next day, Monday, we decided we would head to visit the final city of Ancud and eat curanto—a local island tradition! Que rico! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curanto) We walked around and enjoyed the ocean views and even some sun for the afternoon! We caught a bus at 5 to head back to land to a city called Puerto Varas, to explore for a day. In Puerto Varas, we stayed at an awesome hostel called La Margouya and met some pretty cool people as well. We visited a local park in a city called Petrohue and hiked around to explore some of the landscape and different water bodies in the surrounding region. There is also a few fairly large volcanoes in the area, however we didn’t have enough time to visit those! It was a pretty rainy day for the most part, but some of the time was scattered with a lot of sun. I saw probably the brightest rainbow of my life! We headed back into town to eat some pizza and relax for the night!
This morning we woke up early to catch a taxi and our flight back to Santiago, then a bus back to Viña del Mar. It was sunny and hot here when we arrived, much different than the rain and 40-50 degree temps of the south. However, I must say I love the south of Chile with all its rain and unpredictability…it is a true magnificent place and one that everyone should add to their bucket lists. I am comfy and dry in my bed trying to get some homework done, but at this point homework is the furthest thing from my mind. Life is good.