Five Days in Buenos Aires

Sabbaticalinchile.wordpress.com 5/28/13

My time in Chile is winding down, and I’ve been back a week from five unforgettable days in Buenos Aires–time to catch up! The impetus for my trip was to meet and work with Paula Carlino at the University of Buenos Aires’ Institute of Linguistics, to renew my tourist visa in Chile, and to check out what is supposed to be the most beautiful city in Latin America. Nothing disappointed—including Fulbright, whose travel allowance subsidized about half of my costs. Before going, my friend Kerrie Kephart had connected me with her close friends, sisters Graciela and Sylvia. I was looking for a place to stay—not on someone’s couch—so Sylvia offered to rent me her apartment, which enabled her to make a deposit on a smaller place she wanted to move to. Her apartment was in the Cañitas area to the north of Buenos Aires, a small, hip neighborhood with tons of cafes and restaurants and easy access to bus lines and the subway. Grace and Sylvi were my Argentine angels. Grace picked me up at the airport on Friday night and gave me a quick tour of the city, which was impressively illuminated, and green and moist from recent rain, a contrast to dry and dusty Santiago. Silvi met us after work in her lovely one-bedroom apartment, and we headed out in Grace’s car. I don’t know what neighborhood we were in, but Grace and I first tried an old-fashioned Italian place that was suffocatingly hot and humid for two women of a certain age. So we crossed the street to a great wine bar where Silvi was meeting four friends she’s known since high school. The owner showed all of us to a long wooden table—maybe an old grape press from a vineyard—where a lone guy was eating at the far end. Loïc turned out to be from Montreal and graciously accommodated himself to sitting with 7 women, even sharing his tortilla Espanola while we waited for our food. We had some great Malbec and good conversation with him in English and Spanish—which he had perfected living in Cuzco, Peru, for a couple of years working for Bechtel.

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On Saturday I enjoyed great coffee and a media luna (croissant) at a café across the street, and walked around the beautiful neighborhood in sunshine. Grace took me to check out Silvi’s new apartment which she’d been furiously cleaning with their older brother and his grown daughter. We ate sandwiches and empanadas Grace had brought, sitting on the apartment’s balcony from which we could see sailboats on the large expanse of the River Plate—I mistook it for the ocean, it’s so wide. Then we piled into the car and they showed me around the city, to La Boca, the colorful part of Buenos Aires you always see in tourist pictures–like this one:

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Then to Puerto Madero, a newly developed area of the harbor and the Usine del Arte, a converted electricity utility building in Italianate style which had this installation of optical illusion that was irresistible. This is me looking like i’m hanging off this building.

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We walked along a canal to the Puente del Mujer, unmistakably Santiago Calatrava. By then it was cooling down in the late afternoon. After a few hours’ rest at ‘my’ apartment, Grace and Silvi picked me up again and we went to a local parilla, or grill house—the meat mania in Argentina is not exaggerated—where I had a lovely grilled trout—and we all had more good Malbec.

On Sunday, Grace discovered her doorman had tested out his new motorcycle in her building’s garage and crashed into her car, so she spent the day sorting that out while I took a bus down to San Telmo, a historic district that has a famous Sunday flea market. Musicians were playing along La Defensa, including the Jamaicaderos—I bought their 3 CDs in support of their fight for the right to play music on the street, currently under threat. They had an awesome reggae-funk beat!

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Further along I came to the promised street tango dancers and bought some copper earrings that looked Mapuche in design. I found my way back to the bus and caught it to La Recoleta Cemetery, which I’ve already written about. From there I walked all the way back to Cañitas, about an hour, past beautiful Belle Epoque buildings lining El Libertador, one of the main drags. Just as I got home, Grace and Silvi showed up and we went for a delicious pizza at Romario, a few blocks away. The two warring football/soccer teams of Buenos Aires, River and La Boca had played that afternoon—with River winning—so the streets were filled with rabid fans waving flags and honking car horns. Next post: from tourist to working academic.

Puerto Natales and Parque Nacional Torres del Paine

SabbaticalinChile.wordpress.com 5/24/14

I’m back in Santiago, my last week here, but still trying to catch up on my travels. After the five days teaching at the Universidad Magallanes in Punta Arenas, Patagonia, I took a 3-hour bus ride north to Puerto Natales, the launch point for seeing the amazing Torres del Paine. It was the tail end of the tourist season, bits of snow on the ground and certainly on the mountains. Nonetheless, the hotels that were open were busy. I lucked out with a Lonely Planet recommendation for the Hostal Amerindia, a funky, small and inexpensive hostel near the waterfront decorated in modern hippie style—warm colors, wood, soft lighting, wood stoves. There was only one other guest, a young English woman whom I met on my second morning. Breakfast was included and early enough for me to be picked up by the tour bus to Torres del Paine—still 60 km away. Because I only had a weekend, I couldn’t do any hiking, but the tour included Grey Glacier the Cueva del Milodon (a big cave where the bones of a giant sloth (milodon) were found in the 1890s). The bus picked me up on Chilean time and it was near 8:30 before the bus—filled tourists from Chile, Brazil, Spain, France, Malaysia, Korea and Bosnia-Herzogovinia (as well as the U.S.—me)—headed out. We stopped first at a tourist shop in Cerro Castilo, otherwise a sheep-ranching crossroads—but with good coffee. Upon entering the national park, our driver immediately spotted an aguila mora (purple eagle) sitting on a fencepost; later he stopped for a flock of condors (I’m sure there’s a more precise term); a herd of guanaco, a native cameloid; pink flamingos—and, most amazingly in the middle of the day, a puma lurking around some low trees. Puma apparently don’t like to be near people and presumably are nocturnal, so this was a surprise—I couldn’t get a picture but did see a large, tannish body slinking away. This first picture is Puerto Natales as we left in the morning. 

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here’s a guanaco clearly used to tourists:

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We lucked out with a super clear day, so the scenery was breathtaking. There are 3 main granite ‘torres’ (towers) jutting 2000 meters up against the skyline. The word ‘paine’ was not, as I had imagined, the name of some obscure British adventurer, but rather derives from an indigenous language and means ‘blue’.

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 I also lucked out with my seatmate, Emer, an interesting, world-traveled trade law expert from Sarajevo who was on a 4 month trip around Latin America, set to end in Brazil for the World Cup. Between the late start, stops to get out and take pictures, and spending almost 2 hours at the hotel where we ate lunch (some of us brought sandwiches!), our tour ended with a rush to see the Grey Glacier—impressive—and the Milodon Cave, which we reached in total darkness. That would have been disappointing but for the stunning swath of stars and planets in the sky—the Milky Way and Southern Cross—against a completely black sky. Our guide, Roberto, illuminated our way into the cave and shone his light onto various displays but outside was the real show. As I’m not going to have time to go north to the Atacama desert where there are a number of observatories, this was the next best thing.

Back in Puerto Natales, I sampled a local brew with Emer before he boarded the Navimag ferry, which travels 4 days along the Patagonian coast north to Puerto Montt (about 1.5 hours from Punta Arenas by plane). From what I’ve heard, this ferry is hard core; your fellow passengers may include cattle, and it’s definitely not a luxury cruise. I, on the other hand, had a nice salad for dinner and went back to my quiet and cozy hostel bed. I had bought my return bus ticket to Punta Arenas in advance and chosen to leave at 1 pm. Unfortunately, on a Sunday morning in the off-season, Puerto Natales was DEAD. I walked around town, made friends with a young German shepherd who kept throwing a stone for me to kick for him—and gobbled up a stale roll I gave him on my return to the hostel. But the quiet day was good after the busy work week and previous frenetic pace.

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At the Hotel Finis Terrae I was given a new room, but the staff recognized me, and I felt at home. I spent another day and a half there before flying back to Santiago, as I’d thought I might do some research there, which didn’t end up happening.  So I had 3 days before my next jaunt: to Buenos Aires.

‘The grave’s a fine and private place …’

Sabbaticalinchile.wordpress.com 5/21/14

Writing this on my way back to Santiago from a short but amazing visit to Buenos Aires, but still trying to catch up, so let me go back to my stay in Punta Arenas. In fact, my plan to write about the Punta Arenas cemetery was rekindled in BA when I got to the famous Cemeterio la Recoleta, which LP claims is the most visited tourist attraction here. I didn’t have time to do a full or a guided tour so I probably missed some monuments to or mausoleums of famous people, but I was surprised that Recoleta paled in comparison to the Punta Arenas cemetery–not that it isn’t beautiful. Apart from being simply a gorgeous place, especially in the late afternoon when I visited, there’s more space in the Punta Arenas cemetery, affording more greenery and the sense that the monuments and mausoleums are less crammed in than in Recoleta. But here’s one beautifully carved monument in Recoleta.

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In fact, what was more interesting was that the Punta Arenas cemetery showcases the diversity of the immigrant groups who came  to work there in various industries at different times. And I noted Stars of David on some headstones as well as the expected Christian symbols. Also interesting were graves of the large Croatian community, whose surnames were joined over time with those of Spanish immigrants as families intermarried. In fact, my host at the American Corner had a Spanish name from her father’s side and a Croatian name from her mother’s (following the Spanish convention of keeping the mother’s name as the second last name). In Recoleta, by contrast, most of the names were Spanish, with a few in English; the lack of space means very little green space surrounding the memorials. The Punta Arenas cemetery included gravestones in English, French, and German as well. Here’s a picture I took for Moritz of a Swiss immigrant’s grave in Punta Arenas.Image

And apparently, the Socialist Party of Chile was also laid to rest here, according to this gravestone!

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 A poodle resident in the Punta Arenas cemetery was a bit skittish but I managed to get this snapshot (I’ll do another post on the perros callejeros of Chile). Not sure if this is a red-diaper poodle or if the bandana choice is just coincidence.

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I doubt many people have the opportunity to see both of these cemeteries, and if I’d seen Recoleta first my impressions of Punta Arenas might have been less powerful. Pretty amazing. 

At the end of the earth: Punta Arenas, Chile

Sabbaticalinchile.wordpress.com

5/17/14

Greetings from Buenos Aires—but first I need to go back two weeks to catch up on my stay in Punta Arenas, Magellan Region, Patagonia. If you look on a map of Chile, you have to go almost all the way down to Tierra del Fuego to find Punta Arenas on the southwest end of the Straits of Magellan. Its name means ‘Sandy Point’, which it was called by a Brit and later translated into Spanish (which was not the indigenous language—those groups in ‘Patagonia’ included the Selknam, now wiped out, and other groups absorbed into the northeastern Mapuche). I suppose decades of hearing about such a faraway place made it so exciting for me to be on the Magellan Straits and to be in Patagonia. The university that had invited me to do the publishing workshop sent a taxi to meet me at the airport—unbidden, the driver, Christian, started telling me about Punta Arenas, mentioning that people from all social classes live side by side in the city, “university professors next to taxi drivers.” Strangely, the airport is about 20 km out of the city; we passed a naval base and various warehouses for fish and wool (two major products of Patagonia, along with oil). We drove along the Avenida Costanera, which hugs the Magellan Straits, then turned up a slight incline on Avenida Colón, which I learned had been majorly flooded out a few years ago—still being repaired. My hotel, Finis Terrae, was a Best Western Hotel, not my usual style, but since I was being hosted, no complaints.

 

After dropping my stuff, I headed out to explore Punta Arenas, hoping to find a tourism office open because my friend Javiera had recommended a day trip to see penguins—but it was too late in the day and too late in the season—the penguins are apparently now in Brazil. Nonetheless, there was more activity on the main streets of Punta Arenas on a Saturday afternoon than in Santiago! After making a circuit of the main parts of the small city, I bought provisions including the obligatory bottle of Carmenere for the room. After a buffet dinner including lots of seafood in the hotel restaurant, I had one of the best night’s sleep of my life in the quiet hotel with fresh cotton sheets. A big breakfast buffet awaited me on the top floor of the hotel, with a view of the Straights and sunrise—Sunday and every day. My only complaint was that the hotel internet was too weak and intermittent to do much besides email and Facebook—no Netflix or websurfing—and feeble attempts to connect on SKYPE with Moritz. But I learned this was a problem in the whole city, not just the hotel. Being at the end of the world has some disadvantages (besides high prices).

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Sunday morning was sunny and brisk, perfect for a long walk on the path next to the Straits. I noticed memorials to Magellan as well as smaller plaques and constructions dedicated to the various waves of settlers as well as indigenous peoples. Settled in for a day of reading graduate student work, another excellent meal in the restaurant—my meals were included but they all had to be in the hotel! Went out for another short walk in the afternoon to try out the offerings at a café called Chocolatte—where I had chorros and hot chocolate.

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On Monday my taxi driver Christian fetched me to go the university, about 3 miles east of the center. Waiting at the library were the two women most involved in organizing the workshop, held in the offices of the American Corner at Magellan University. Around 9 a.m. my students (academics) started to filter in and take spots at the four tables they would occupy for the week. It’s always fascinating how people sit in the same place all the time—school, church, anywhere; at Warner I drive my students crazy making them change their spots in the classroom, which has pedagogical value. I knew many of the academics were anxious about using English so I spoke some Spanish and people were also on hand to translate. Once we got going, participants became more comfortable using English—and I, Spanish. Our daily pattern was to have the workshop session from 9-12 with a coffee break in the middle, then I met with 3-4 scholars individually for about 20 minutes every day before heading back to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoons I prepped the next day and did other walk, and continued to explore Punta Arenas—walking along the Straights road in the other direction one day; another day walking up the hillside behind the city; another day walking out to the municipal cemetery. More about that, next time …Image

Whirlwind Pace Follows me to Chile

Sabbaticalinchile.wordpress.com 5/15/14

Even before Moritz’s visit, the relaxed pace of my early weeks in Santiago was starting to slip away. Between giving workshops, starting to collect data, and organizing future travels—and my doctoral students at the Warner School have been very productive—I had lots to do, as well as proofreading a book I’ve edited with David Hanauer. The trip with Moritz was phenomenal and it was great that he visited in the middle of my stay (if only he had brought the dog!). Once he left, I popped down to Viña del Mar for a quick visit. Then I had the pleasure of a visit from Pam Black-Colton, our admissions director and a friend. Showing her around I got to visit some places in Santiago for the first time or see some sights more thoroughly. So by the end of April, the tranquil pace of my first few weeks had started to yield to a more typically pressured way of life—but not necessarily a good one. Gradually insomnia started to find its way back into my nights and feelings of frustration that things were happening too slowly—or schedules changing unexpectedly—created stress. Although this development was unexpected, it has led me to ponder better ways to find balance in my life in Rochester. When I return home on June 1, I hope to bring back not only some good Chilean wine and nice souvenirs, but also some of the graciousness of Latin American living. The flip side of a lifestyle where classes get started late and plans are flexible is that perfectionism is not the highest value… a good lesson, perhaps. Here’s  the Aquitania Vineyard near Santiago that Moritz and I visited on his last day. Excellent rose and Carmenere!

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One of the stresses of recent weeks was negotiating the publishing workshop I was asked to do in Punta Arenas, southern Patagonia. Part of the issue was a lack of communication among the different sets of people interested in the workshop, and part of it was probably that some of the communication happened in Spanish. But the most telling point for me was the common assumption that the multilingual scholars who wanted to have the workshop needed to focus on their English grammar and writing abilities, whereas the research that Theresa Lillis and I have been doing for 13 years shows that there are other aspects of publishing that are often more important than language. Folk ideologies of language are extremely powerful and pervasive, but success in academic publishing has much to do with knowing which journal is the best one for an article to be submitted to, understanding what’s of interest to the editors and reviewers of a particular journal, and being able to parse the reviewers’ and editor’s feedback and negotiate revisions. After some tense moments of negotiating the workshop plan, I was gratified to hear from participants during the workshop that they were happy to learn about these topics, which people rarely discuss. So the week ended on a high note, with discussions about a return visit in December. And I was able to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to spend 10 days in the Magellan region of southern Patagonia—8 days in Punta Arenas and 2 days in Puerto Natales/Torres del Paine. About which I will write in my next couple of posts—even as I get ready to go to Buenos Aires tomorrow! Here’s one picture of Punta Arenas looking onto the Magellan Straight.

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Vacation with Moritz, Part 4: World Heritage Churches and Curanto on Chiloé

Sabbaticalinchile.wordpress.com

5/11/14

Chiloé has received World Heritage designation because of its many historic wooden churches, as the brightly painted yellow and purple church gracing the main square in Castro testifies. Despite the exterior colors, the inside is entirely made of wood (since the mid-20th century the island has been almost entirely deforested, but wood/lumber was a mainstay of the economy previously, along with fishing.

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Our second day, Good Friday, was a hiking day (after Villarica, we alternated traveling and hiking days). We managed to find the Parque Nacional Chacao, on the western coast of the island, which has only short hiking trails, but the park was gorgeous and the ranger who signed us in pushed us toward the nature trail—so we followed it, learning that Darwin had stopped at Chiloé on the Beagle. We ended up reaching the beach, with grazing horses, an absolutely beautiful spot with mountain ranges visible to the south. Back at the park buildings, there was an excellent café with the best coffee (for me) and hot chocolate (for Moritz) we’d had in Chile. And in the south, with the influence of German immigrants, we took advantage of its ‘arandola kuchen’ (blueberry cake).

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After the park, we drove almost the entire length of the island when I didn’t check the map against the guidebook and mistook the town of Quemchi in the south with the town of Quellon, in the northeast, which has another of the wooden churches. After I realized my mistake we did an about face, heading back to Castro for dinner—and ended up by the waterfront at the Nueva Galicia, lured in by their sign for fresh oysters. Our waiter, an English autodidact, was bent on speaking English with us and hugely proud of Chilote products, including a flavorful local microbrew, and the seafood. The restaurant provides a complimentary appetizer of mussels; I also ordered oysters; and we tried the traditional Chilote dish ‘curanto’, a clambake type of mixture traditionally cooked in the ground with seaweed—though ours was made at the restaurant. I foolishly listened to the waiter’s suggestion that we each get an order, so we were overwhelmed with clams, extra-large mussels (that probably have another name), sausage, ham, chicken, potatoes, and lard-fried potato dumplings. So we took home the equivalent of an order, which fed us for the next couple of evenings.

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Heading out in the morning, I still wanted to find Quellon and see the other churches on the World Heritage path. We easily located Dalquehue on the northeast coast, but the church was so fully under renovation that there was almost nothing but scaffolds. We found the crafts market and both bought Chilote wool sweaters. Moritz spied chestnuts for sale outside a small market and bought a kilo for 1000 pesos—less than $2. Then we tried to follow the church brochure’s crude map to reach San Juan—no easy feat—after backtracking along a number of roads we finally came to the end of one dirt road, from which we could see San Juan across the beach—with no bridge. In fact, an old lady outside at the last house chuckled when Moritz asked ‘Hay un puente’?

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We backtracked again and headed for Quellon, then a few km further we saw a sign for San Juan. But the church was closed on Easter Saturday, and there was little to see in the village. We headed back toward Quellon to get to the Pan-American Highway and leave the island. We passed the sign for Tenaún, another village with a wooden churches, but at that point I thought we should get out of Dodge. Big mistake, I later learned from Lonely Planet (though how the guide organizes information is annoying, as I hadn’t noticed the box on these churches earlier), as this is supposed to be a gem of a church. We headed toward Route 5, and picked up another hitchhiker whose Chilote Chilean was hard to understand, but I learned he’d been visiting his daughter in Quellon. After depositing him at Route 5, we crossed over the Channel on another ferry and toward Osorno.

Our planning with Google maps made getting through town fairly easy—including a stop for wine and Easter chocolate—despite construction-related detours and we reached the coastal village of Maicolpue in early evening. We were booked at the Hosteria Miller which has a dining room only open for breakfast in the off-season. Our room was in a cabin across the driveway from the main building, looking directly west over the Pacific. Don Rubén, the resident caretaker/jack of all trades unlocked our room and lit the gas heater in the chilly room, but didn’t want to leave us his only lighter (luckily I had camping matches). On a quiet Easter weekend, we were happy for the leftover curanto and smoked salmon, and (of course) wine, so had a leftovers picnic for dinner. From my vantage point in the one armchair in the room, I could see the sun setting over the Pacific. While we ate, Moritz tried to roast the chestnuts on top of the gas heater but it was a slow process and he had to abandon it when we went to bed.

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The next day we met the only other guests, an Argentine couple who’d returned to the area because of the wildlife. They confirmed LP’s mention of a nature reserve 7 km south of Maicolpue so we set out along the curvy shoreline road. We came to the end of the road (shades of San Juan) and walked a little on the beach, realizing the only way to get across to where the reserve might be was to cross a stream and enter what looked like private property. I was hesitant, but Moritz was determined and I followed him through the gates. As soon as we entered, we met an Argentine family who confirmed that we were in the right place, so we headed up a moderately steep and very pretty trail for about 40 minutes. A couple of paths led away from the main trail but nothing was marked. We went as far as we could and hit the forest, with no sense that we’d find any useable trails. On the way down my glasses were fogging up so I put them in an inside pocket in my (new) raincoat. When we neared the bottom of the trail I discovered they were gone—the pocket was really just the liner (Facebook friends may remember my similar experience last fall in Rochester …). Luckily these were old glasses I’d brought to preserve my new glasses! By then the rain had really started and I was prepared to abandon the lost glasses, but Moritz insisted on going back to search. No luck finding green-rimmed glasses on a wet verdant hillside, but on his way down he met a Chilean couple who had come from the reserve we’d couldn’t find—and they had picked up my glasses. Unfortunately he couldn’t understand exactly what they said about where they’d stashed them (and I was waiting dry inside the car). So we went back up the trail again (for Moritz the third time), looking high and low, left and right. Again, no luck, but a valiant effort on his part. Back at the cabin, he improved his chestnut-roasting technique: by bending the thin bars of the metal cage of the gas heater, he could stack four or five chestnuts in front of the flame and roasted them to perfection. Easter Monday dawned clear and beautiful and before heading back to the airport we walked a little on the beach in front of the hostel and saw some cool graffiti. This one translates as:IMG_1416

“Learn from your grandparents, not from the television.”

As we headed back east on the main road, we stopped to pick up older woman hitchhiking to Osorno. Her Spanish was easier to understand and I asked if she knew of the handicrafts market in Osorno. As we approached the city, she guided us to the market.  Near the end, she reached into a cloth bag and offered us freshly baked rolls to thank us for the ride. In parting, she and I exchanged typical Chilean salutations—a kiss on the cheek, coming and going. After buying a leather wallet for Moritz, some wool gloves for me, and a couple of gifts, it was still before noon so I suggested trying to find a brewery recommended in LP that’s 12 km east of Osorno, have lunch then head to the airport Temuco, another few hours north. The brewery was closed and without thinking clearly about distance, I steered us another 40 km to the east to Entrelagos where we ate sandwiches by the lake looking at Osorno volcano in the distance. By the time we left, we’d effectively missed our plane. We had to drive a few hours, replenish the gas in the car and drop it off. And we’d forgotten to check in online for our flights. When we got to the check-in counter 30 min before departure, we had already lost our seats. Luckily we got onto the last flight of the day standby, arriving in Santiago at 10:30 p.m., squeaking onto the metro before it closes at 11:30.

Vacation with Moritz, Part 3: Osorno Volcano Rainbow and Palafitos in Chiloe

Sabbaticalinchile.wordpress.com 5/4/14

Puerto Varas is one of the loveliest towns I’ve seen in Chile, but we postponed exploring it for our second day. After cooking breakfast in the Casa Azul and making sandwiches, we drove a good 45 minutes east along the very big (dare I say ‘great’) Lago Llanquihue (‘hue’ means place in the indigenous Mapuche language and it’s seen in many place names in Chile) to Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales. The scenery consisted of breathtakingly gorgeous mountains, volcanoes, and lakes. We parked and checked in at the office, where we had the most bureaucratic experience of our trip—we each had to sign a book, fill out a form with passport number, and attach a tag to our backpacks to be checked by another ranger up the mountain (this never happened). No charge, whereas at other national park office we paid different fees practically every time. However, the ranger at the Osorno station, Javier, was extremely friendly and gave us accurate advice about trails (in this case, up was the basic direction, in both senses). This was a great hike for me, long and with a slow grade, with amazing views of Lago Todos Santos as we climbed. When we’d gone far enough to tax my energy, and clouds were gathering, I decided to descend while Moritz planned to keep going (we were nowhere near the snowline or the summit, a 12-hour hike with crampons, for serious mountaineers).  After ambling down the path about 15 minutes in a light rain, I heard Moritz shout from behind me: ‘Rainbow.’ When I turned back around, I saw the best rainbow of my life: all the colors of the spectrum visible and forming a complete arc—I could almost imagine a pot of gold at the end. But the day was enough of a gift.

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The rain didn’t last long enough to spoil anything, and we headed back to Puerto Varas, stopping to buy salmon at Jumbo, the Whole Foods of Chile (in price and selection, at least—the organic, local, etc stuff hasn’t quite caught on here) to cook for our dinner, with another delicious Chilean wine. The next morning we explored Puerto Varas, did a little shopping at a crafts market, walked around town, and then asked at the tourist office about the walking tour of the ‘Casas Patrimoniales’, houses built at the turn of the 20th century by German immigrants (of which there were many in southern Chile). I didn’t take any pictures of these but here in Punta Arenas (Patagonia) noticed this house of the same style—rustic wooden trim is one characteristic.

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After lunch we packed up the car and headed south on the Pan-American highway a couple hours to Isla Grande de Chiloe—according to Lonely Planet, ‘the continent’s second largest island’. To get there you drive to the end of Route 5 on the continent and get on a ferry. As our ferry crossed the Chacao Channel we spotted a lot of sea birds hovering over something dark in the water—a school of fish, including some dolphins or sea lions. I didn’t see them, but Moritz saw some penguins among the birds, which was confirmed by a Chilote (resident of Chiloe) who was chatting with us on the boat. Unfortunately, the season to see penguins had ended, so I never saw them. Hearing this news also comforted me for our failure to reach the National Monument Islotes de Puñihuil, breeding grounds for penguins and “a haven for blue whales” (LP). We discovered that the many maps we collected often conflicted, sometimes showing non-existent roads, more often not showing roads at all, so when we left Ancud, the first big and mostly industrial city you come to on Chiloe, one map suggested the monument would be reachable to the south, but we needed to go straight east. This was not the last time we had fun with maps on Chiloe …

We were booked at Hotel Palafitos 1326, our nicest hotel, for 2 nights in Castro, the main cultural city in Chiloe. Chiloe, and Castro in particular is known for its houses on stilts, or palafitos, and the hotel sits on the water, with lovely decks and views of a shallow bay. It was raining so we popped next door to a nice restaurant (really splashing out) where Moritz had his first Pisco sour, probably the best I’ve had as well, before a huge, delicious dinner in a toasty restaurant. This is the view from the hotel deck of neighboring buildings on palafitos; below is Moritz on the deck of our hotel.

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technical delays from the bottom of the world … to be continued