La Isla Grande de Chiloé: Dalcahue y Castro
I’m so annoyed. I was halfway through an amazing post about my adventures in Chiloé and Safari had a heart attack and shut down unexpectedly. No I did not want to send a report to apple. I wanted to scream and hit my computer. Tumblr told me that I had an unpublished post- which of course was sent into oblivion. So I begin again. Begrudgingly. But writing about Chiloé has been on the to-do list since I went there… which was in February- so I suppose its time to close the book on this one. To refresh my memory, I have copied from my journal. I apologize for the repetition (see: Rolling With It) but it is a good introduction. Feel free to skip ahead.
After we finished the ILP on Friday, the 18th of February, a problem occurred. We had bought tickets to Punta Arenas or so we thought. The plan was to go to Patagonia, to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine- backpack it, explore, trek. But not everything in life always goes according to plan and that Friday we discovered that our trip to Patagonia was not going to happen. At least, not now. Basically, my credit card (I had paid for myself and Tarah) and Courtney’s, had both been rejected and therefore our purchases were not processed and the tickets were gone. My old monitor/friend Joaquin tried to buy tickets to go to Punta Arenas the next day, Saturday, as planned. We bought tickets online through LAN. They were extremely cheap ($150 USD). But it sounded too good to be true- and it was. We tried to check-in online for our flight but we were denied. Confused, Joaquin called LAN and that’s when we found out that the tickets were for MARCH! The days and days of the week (Saturday-Sunday, 19-27) corresponded perfectly. So there was the inital sadness, which quickly lifted and I felt free and relieved. We were not prepared whatsoever. I felt bad because our friend Francie, who we were planning on going with, had successfully purchased tickets. Joaquin felt very bad but I was really calm. I went home to Marta and ate palta and tomatoe and my favorite soup in her bed and watched television. I went to bed kind of late after writing a lengthy blog entry describing what was mentioned earlier, about rolling with it.
The next day, February 19th, 2011, was spent buying gear and tickets. We bought tickets close to Los Leones metro station to Castro, the capital of Chiloé, the second largest island in Chile, according to Courtney’s lonely planet guide, which became a sort of sacred, almost biblical text, which we referred to multiple times a day. Anyway, trust me, Chiloé is large! We left from Santiago on Saturday night. Also on Saturday, we had the best gelato ever at Gigi Bontá in Providencia. It tasted like nutella, but better. It was fantastic.
Saturday night we almost missed the bus (cough, Courtney, cough), but we made it. It was 15 hours to Castro. So the night turned to day and the day turned into Sunday, the 20th of February, a long long long long day! The bus driver dropped us off in Mocopulli- closer to Dalcahue, which according to the guidebook, has a large street fair every Sunday. Perfect. ¡Vamos! So off the bus we went. We spent 10 minutes getting ourselves together and ready for the road. I brushed my teeth and used the uh facilities. After about 100ft and seeing two backpackers ahead of us doing it, we decided it was a good idea to hitchhike. It became a way of life. After letting down our hair, we almost immediately got a ride. We hopped in the back of a red pick up truck with a family in the front cabin area. There was a small baby girl smiling playfully at us in the truck bed through the window. Life is awesome.
Riding in the back of the truck
¡Súper rico empanada con mariscos!
¡La ciudad de Dalcahue es hermosa!
We left Dalcahue and marched towards Castro.
Paula and Cristian- the lovely couple who picked us up. They live in Castro and asked us if we would like to sleep on their patio. Our plan was to find nice people and camp in their backyards (or patios) so when they asked we were delighted. We also discovered that they were on their way to a festival, Festival Costumbrista Chilote, Festival of Customs of Chiloé, in Castro, and would we like to come? Of course! We left our backpacks in their car and entered the festival.
On the stage, the people dance the traditional cueca, but in a Chilotan style. The music, song and dance were all native to Chiloé and demonstrated the pride that these people have for their beautiful island.
Some quick notes on Chiloé
- It rains a lot- but we experienced almost all sunshine and beautiful cloudy skies during our time in Chiloé. I think the most it rained was just light sprinkles. :) Nevertheless, we came prepared in matching black parka/raincoats.
- It is safe- a lot safer than Santiago. The people are also extremely kind and hospitable and want you to have a good time.
- It is magical and mythological. There are many legends and myths in Chiloé and according to our friend Pato, a native, in rural areas there are still witches. There is a list of mythological creatures, each with his/her own tale and modern applications.
- The seafood is fantastic. Chiloé is famous for a dish called curanto. More on that later, and my personal experience with curanto…
- The pace of life is much slower than metropolitan Santiago. People are generally more laid back and peaceful.
- Churches- Chiloé is famous for its many wooden churches, an example of the mixture of native and Catholic traditions. 16 are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- Anything can happen in Chiloé! If you ever have the opportunity to go to Chiloé, I recommend the cities of Castro and Ancud.
A couple dancing at the festival.
Tarah y yo
Courtney’s guidebook told us about the liquor of Chiloé. It is famous for its Licor de Oro- Liquor of Gold. It is spicy and very sweet. The red one had a fruity flavor. Licor de Oro is made of aguardiente (alcohol), whey, saffron and lemon peel. They were giving out samples- so of course we had to try for ourselves. Personally, it is too sweet, but that’s just me.
We bought some chocolates for our sweet hosts, Paula and Cristian.
A HUGE PIG!
We tried on some of the handmade clothing that people were selling at the festival…
Perfect clouds for cloud watching
We left with Paula and Cristian to go to their home and set-up camp! On our way, we got our first glimpse of the famous palafitos- houses on the water that are literally held up by pieces of wood!
Sunset and view of the bay from Paula and Cristian’s house. After we set up our tent, they allowed us to shower in their home and invited us in for tea and bread. I can only hope that I would be that loving to a complete stranger. They said that they would have let us sleep inside, but that Paula’s sister, child, husband and mother were staying over. Yes, we met the whole clan. Such nice people.
Courtney’s sleeping bag/body suit. Too good.
Our tent! We slept in and cooked breakfast inside the house. :)
Timón, the dog
Courtney and the tent
Tarah, rocking the Rotary Club hat, and the tent
We decided that today, Monday the 21st of February, would be spent exploring Castro. Tuesday we would leave and try to get to Chonchi, to the state park of Chiloé and camp there.
Okay sorry, I just think these houses are so cool…
Stopping to smell the roses
Shopping around. In Castro we stocked up on supplies for the next few days. Pasta, prunes and oatmeal. Yum!
We took a quick look through a museum. I liked the model ships.
(foto: Courtney) Lots of churches!!
The church in Castro, one of the 16 UNESCO sites
We sat in the park across from the church and played cards. There was a pack of wild dogs.. always so many dogs in Chile.
Here come the women in black… dun dun dun dun dunn dun. Matching in our black coats.
We played cards, went to dinner and ate a really good burger and went back to our tent in Paula and Cristian’s patio. The next day we left Castro.
More to come!
Living and living quite gloriously: a jumbled return to the blogosphere
I am ALIVE! And quite terrible at keeping up this blog. Urg! Well, mom pestered me to tell the world that I am alive and describe a typical day here. Also- I have lots to catch you up on dear reader… adventures hitch-hiking and sleeping in people’s backyards in Chiloé, trekking through one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to in my life- Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, taking a field trip with a survivor of the dictatorship, my new living situation, my awesome research position, school, LIFE!
I have decided to post later about my adventures in Chiloé and Patagonia and fast-forward to present day.
Today is el día de Pascua, Easter Sunday. Here they refer to Easter Break as “Semana Santa” and it is something of a national holiday. Everything is shut down. Friday and Saturday were oddly quiet.
So basics about my life here. I live in Bellas Artes in the center of Santiago. I love it. This barrio is one of the safest in the center and filled with museums, restaurants and cafes. It has a very European feel to it, very hip, liberal, left, arty. Bellas Artes means Fine Arts. I live on this little street named Mosqueto, which is almost like a paseo (a street just for walking) but there are still cars, but very few. Trees line the street and there is a string of little cafes, filled with plants, flowers, music and tranquility. There is a burger joint run by Peruvians on the corner of Mosqueto and Merced called Guido’s that is my favorite burger place in Santiago, granted it is the only burger place that I have been in Santiago- but still, its cheap and its delicious. I live with a woman named Pia, 30 years old, has a degree in cinema design but teaches English and is simultaneously taking English classes. She is very artistic and definitely has a very different and distinct style. She would fit in well in Berkeley. She has this wonderful beautiful Cocker-Spaniel named Laiza, who I adore. I love living with a dog in the house. This week we had one of Laiza’s puppies, Valentino, who lives with Pia’s parents stay with us (they were on vacation). He lives outside and is not house-trained. It was an experience. Not sure if he is still here. He is adorable but was a burden, “pesado” to the house. I will just say that the floor needs to be santitized and I don’t think I will ever sit on our couch again (he pooped on it and it was liquid and some soaked in…). Pia has a serious boyfriend, Manuel, 37, who stays over 4 nights a week. Manuel is really nice and I feel like he balances the apartment. He is going to move in with us in May. I am really excited- we will get a washing machine, dryer, heater, tv and cable!!
Living here is definitely different than my life in the U.S. You have to turn on the gas to take a shower, and our toilet is terrible and old and you have to take the lid off to flush it everytime because it does not function properly. There is the noise. It is not bad- the noises that you hear in the downtown of a giant city. For example, right now, my neighbors are having a party and I can hear everything. I re-painted and re-did my room, color orange! I can’t complain. Pia is really cool and this is an amazing location. I have made myself a home here.
Classes- I am taking Cine Latinoamericano and Political Corruption in Latin America. My internship is a research project. I work over 20 hours a week in the Neuroscience Lab at the Faculty of Medicine, Dept. of Investigation (Research) at La Catolica (my university). We are doing research on Alzheimer’s. I am learning so much and love working in the lab. I will be working in this lab for my entire time here! So awesome!
Went to this thing called a Tamascal today about an hour away from my apt on the outskirts of town. You get in your bathing suit with a skirt and enter this hut thing, enclosed with a circle in the middle. They put rocks in the middle and it becomes very hot, like a sauna. You sweat a lot and get really muddy. You sing, and you go through 4 doors, discussing the state of the world, your family, your friends and finally yourself. Each stage is filled with songs, instruments and hot hot steam as well as time for people to share things. The tamascal is completely pitch black dark. You emerge covered in sweat and mud. It was very fun and definitely a very different type of Easter service.
Current obessions: Perseguidor jazz club in Bellavista, Cerro Santa Lucia, palta (avocados), and the cheese burger from Guidos. :)
I have a test in my Corruption class this Thursday, so I will be busy preparing for that until then. This upcoming weekend I will catch up the blog and tell some good tales. For now, know that I am alive and thriving in Santiago. Apologies for any grammatical errors. ¡Hasta el próximo fin de semana!
Teaser of stories to come about Chiloe!
Survivor: Patagonia?! ;)