Friday, February 19, 2010

The Mystical Island of Chiloe, debunked

After landing in Quellon, Kaitlin and I faced the decision that had become quite familiar by this point. Since we had more or less thrown the guidebook out the window and taken the vast range of input from fellow travelers with a grain of salt - we had to make an immediate judgement of a place - whether we stay or go.

In Aysen, we arrived at the hospedaje and immediately signed on for four days. In Quellon, we wandered up and down the two main roads.. poked our heads in a few restaurants, checked out a few artisan stalls, and decided - maybe it would be best to push on another hour north to the capital of the island: Castro

It is a strange thing to make such decisions, but we did, and in the grand scheme of things - I think it has paid off. We arrived in Castro sometime around midafternoon. Shopped around the hostels and hospedajes until we found a cozy family run place at a fair price.


I can't quite recall the cronology of the next three or four days in Castro..

I know though that Castro made quite an impression on me. The market, though filled mostly with tourist junk, was certainly a highlight. The amount of quality wool on display was staggering and had Kaitlin and I considering rearranging our entire wardrobe to incorporate every possible item - made in wool. Ultimately, it was a stall selling simple woven cotten garments that caught our eye and our wallet. Little color, but the designs were so extraordinary - we chipped in for a shall for Kaitlin and a top for me.

Despite this find - I think the highlight for us both was this place:

Offering ceviche of all sorts (salmon, clam, mussel, congrio) with the simplest freshest ingredients - we were in heaven.

We made it a daily (sometimes twice daily) ritual to pick up a few pieces of bread from the convenience store then savor their dish (sopping up everything last bit with the bread) while people milled around the market.

Parque Nacional ChiloƩ

In the middle of our time in Castro, we popped over for a few days to Parque Nacional ChiloƩ. The park is divided into two sections: Chepu in the north near Ancud and Anay near Castro

After braving the rural bus station (if you are anything less than completely attentive - you'll never catch your bus...) we caught a ride from Castro west to Chonchi, the main entrance to the park.

In general, it was a very interesting park. Quite nice, but horribly disorganized. It started as a frustration, but became a joke after running into so many people looking for the trailheads. Still, the persisent drizzle that would completely envelope the area for twelve hours of every day broke our resolve to stay until heading to the farm..

We made our way back to Castro, for more ceviche and warmth, in order to be in our best spirits upon arrival in Ancud/the farm.

Ancud - Caulin Lodge - Escape

I had written quite a bit about this experience. Climbed back into my mind at the time to revisit and document how these people took advantage of a program that is intended to be an exchange..and I have now deleted it.

I can't even remember all the names.. and I can't be bothered to think so much about the events that left us feeling so discouraged. I feel no malice towards them - I feel little at all towards them. I have encountered enough single-minded people in my life to know that you can try to work with them, you can try to get to know them, and find out what, if anything, is beneath the protective/superficial layer - but not at the expense of your own sanity/integrity.

On the evening of the fifth day, we had a "discussion" with Ines and by mutual consent it was determined that it would be best if we left in the morning..


We had planned to stay a month - to learn farming practices, speak spanish, and plan the remainder of our trip. We had done none of these things and were reeling..

I risk redundancy, but it can't be stated enough how strange and beautiful and simple the world can be. After such a disappointment and disruption, what is the outcome? An open door in Buenos Aires: You're welcome whenever..

With the comfort of a fail-proof destination we could continue north and enjoy ourselves knowing that we were ultimately heading for a safe, familiar place where we really could unpack our bags and breathe deep.


The next morning we caught the first bus from Caulin to Ancud - purchased a ticket for Osorno and were on our way north before noon.

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