¡Hola a todos!
It has been, rather shamefully, quite some time, again, since I last put down some trifling musings and, with some time to spare up here in San Pedro de Atacama, I am resolved upon spending it usefully. Today I booked on to a three-day 4x4 tour of the largest salt flats in the world, ending in Uyuni, just across the border in Bolivia and so I fear that beyond this there may be scant opportunity to blog for some days.
I hope to be able to jot down an outline here of the events that have passed from whence I journeyed to Chiloe until my return to Santiago. As I mentioned briefly in my last blog, the island of Chiloe was something of a strange mix, with weather akin to the very best offered up on a rain-drenched day back home, combined with scenery nostalgically reminiscent of that on view in Wales or Ireland – indeed, more than one small harbour-village upon the island provoked memories of days out in Aberdovey. Chiloe even has its own collection of local myths and legends, some of which are eerily similar to those embedded in the folklore of the emerald isle – there is even a creature seemingly mimicking the fabled leprechaun! The weather really was not overly kind to me during my hasty visit yet, nonetheless, I saw enough to whet my apetite and perhaps one day I shall find reason and opportunity to return, hopefully at a more favourable time of year! As it was, the rain hindered me somewhat and so I contented myself with pottering around some of the locations surrounding my central base of Castro, the isle’s capital, and particularly with viewing some of Chiloe’s many famous churches, twelve of which have obtained heritage status through UNESCO as structures of outstanding cultural value. I found those that I had time and energy to visit to be very interesting in their design and in their apparent status within their physical community. Placed in town squares or high on a hillside, the churches dominated their surrounding landscape; this masterly status was heightened all the moreso by the often quirky nature of the edifices themselves, constructed as they were almost entirely from wood and often painted eye-catching colours. The remainder of my time in Chiloe passed rather uneventfully, with the exciting exception provided by my lunch-time sampling of a local dish named ‘curanto’, a mix of seafood – including oysters, clams, mussels and white-fish – and other such delicacies as baked potato, pork-joint, chicken-breast and chorizo sausage, complete with fish-soup as a side. Suffice to say my stomach dropped dramatically, in more ways than one, during this culinary saga and the long drag back up a tortuously steep hill to the centre of town afterwards penitence enough for my over-zealous, perhaps gluttonous is a more appropriate term, hunger.
After just one night in Chiloe, I returned to the Chilean mainland and to my refuge in Puerto Varas. As I left the island in the late afternoon, the sun – which had been threatening to appear for much of the day – finally burst through the cloud and dizzle to light my way and to leave me feeling bemused, frustrated and slightly rueful of my short but absorbing encounter with this odd place. The return to Puerto Varas was further brightened by my companion on the neighbouring seat, who was a lovely lady, native to Chiloe and very excited to meet a traveller who had taken the time to visit her island. My Spanish continues to play havoc with any prolonged conversation but, with the help of a friendly chap on a seat across the isle who had a smattering of English, we got by quite well. Arriving back at my hostel/home in Puerto Varas to a wonderfully friendly welcome, I resolved to spend the rest of the week there before catching the next Pachamama bus back up north to Santiago. My final days in Puerto Varas passed slowly and peacefully; I had little to see or do and so spent some time absorbed in more homely activities such as writing my diary, visiting decadent coffee-houses and struggling with crosswords compiled so thoughtfully by Mum from our local newspaper back home for me to ponder over during dull moments on my trip. The bus finally arrived, carrying with it four interesting characters, all English, and I was more than ready to wave goodbye – albeit with some sadness – to my home of the past week and journey on to pastures new, in search of a different set of exciting experiences.
Alas, my internet time is at an end – one hour really is not enough to write as I would like and so next time I am resolved to spending more time occupied in this hobby. For now, I must love you and leave you, thinking eagerly of the days and challenges ahead: my third country and a situation far removed from those encountered thus-far.
¡Saludos a todos !