Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Searching for Chewbacca in Chacabuco

No aliens here.  Puerto Chacabuco is located in southern Chile, in Northern Patagonia territory.  It's also at the beginnings of the beautiful fjords located in this part of the world.  Some people compare it to the fjords of Norway - having seen some of those, I just might agree with that.  This area also reminds me of areas of Alaska, where cruise ships meander through the inside passage, and again up near Glacier Bay.

In 2016, I visited this same area and took a tour way outside of the little port up through the Simpson River Valley, viewing waterfalls and feeling small next to the incredible mountains towering on either side of our vehicle.

Today, I wanted to stick closer to "home" so opted for a forest walk nearby at a private nature reserve called Aiken del Sur.  It was a short 15 minute ride from where the tender boat dropped us.  The weather was threatening rain, but we were going to walk through a mostly covered forest area, so I wasn't too concerned about that.  Close to the end of the trail, is a beautiful little waterfall called Old Man's Beard.  We stopped for some pictures and then made our way out to the dirt road and walked a few minutes up a hill for lunch.  At the top of the hill was a beautiful lake and a lodge, where we were greeted with a choice of pisco sours, sparkling, red and white wines, and some non-alcoholic drinks.  We enjoyed a traditional lunch of barbecued lamb, empanadas, vegetables and potatoes.

View of the lake from the restaurant lodge

The lamb roasting on the traditional BBQ

The arrayan tree, one that I mentioned yesterday that we saw in Chiloe.  This tree also grows in abundance here.  This is the one that is very cold to the touch.

Some kind of insect.  Pretty, but I kept my distance.

Our guide, Camilla, holding a dead mushroom!  And this was just a part of one.

More arrayan trees.  Their bark and roots can turn river water a red color

Walkway through the preserve

My fellow trekker was experimenting with Portrait mode on my iPhone

This is a little bird called a Chucao.  It is small with a loud voice!  You can identify it by it's tail feathers that stand straight up and its red feathered chest.  They are very curious and will come out of the forest if they hear you calling them.  Camilla called to it by clicking two small stones together.

This is an arrayan tree that appeared to be dead, and so other trees came and set down their roots on top of it.  However, the tree wasn't really dead and it continues to grow, in harmony with the other trees.

Snort is VERY glad this is lamb being cooked behind him instead of pork........

Some ferns in the preserve.  So much greenery!!

Mushrooms taking hold on tree trunk

Old Man's Beard waterfall

A little hard to see, but this is one of those "dead" mushrooms you saw above, growing on the side of a tree trunk.

Love these trees!

Camilla standing next to these large pangue bushes.  They are also called Nalca.

See how there is a red tint to the water?  This is because of the arrayan trees

A view of me and the lake

View from ship after reboarding in the afternoon.  The weather was about to turn quite nasty.

Travel quote:  "Life is a great adventure or nothing"  Helen Keller

Stay tuned for more Pig Tales!!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Not Eating Chili in Chilly Chiloe Chile

Bahahahaha. In a prior post, my spell check worked against me, for when I wrote Chile it came out Chili. And I got some serious feedback on that. My bad. I do know the difference, by the way, but apparently my review skills are lacking. I went back and fixed everything, I hope.

But back to Chiloe, Chile. This was our next stop. And it was a spectacular day!
Thirteen of us went out to the National Park for a hike with a company called Chilespots Travel.

A view of Castro, the city on Chiloe. Castro is the 3rd oldest city in Chile.  Its inhabitants are descendants of the Spanish and Moche cultures.  Chiloe is known for its over 200 types of potatoes that are grown here, as well as elephant garlic.  It rains a LOT here - over 100 inches per year.  My kind of place!!

The National Park is located about an hour's drive from the city of Castro, where our ship tendered in to, from the little bay where it was anchored.  The park was created in 1984, and is about 165 square miles.  One border is on the Pacific Ocean, the other is a lake called Cucao.  Much of it is a rainforest, and there are a number of endemic flora that can be found in South America.  One is a tree called Arrayan.  It is a VERY COOL tree, both literally and figuratively!  It's a type of a myrtle tree, and its bark is smooth, red and cold to the touch.  Cold like an ice cube!!

Image result for arrayan tree chile cold trunk

Our drive out to the Park was pleasant and quite picturesque, as we passed by Lago Huillinco and then Lago Cucao before reaching the main entrance to the park.  There are a number of trails and a nice visitor center there.  Our trail hike took about 90 minutes.  We listened for birds, saw a woodpecker, and passed by lots of interesting trees, sponges and flowers.

View of a farm along the shores of the lake.

Hey, it's Woody!!


A sponge plant. Very vital to the ecosystem here, as it helps keep the area from flooding with all of the rain that falls here

We passed by the first lake early enough in the morning that the fog had not quite lifted.

After we finished at the park, we went back to the little town of Cucao and had a nice lunch of empanadas, salmon, potatoes and wine.  Then we visited a local cemetery.  The cemeteries are kind of unique to this area in that they build little houses around the graves.  When people die here, the family must sit at the burial site for 3 days.  The houses are built to keep the families out of the rain, among other reasons.

Following lunch, we went back towards Castro and visited one UNESCO world heritage church, one of 16 UNESCO churches in this area, the church of Conchi.  All of these churches are made entirely of wood.  

Finally, we visited the stilt houses, called palafito.  We even got to go inside one of them, which was a real treat. Back in the day, fisherman lived here, but today, many of them have been sold and then converted into hostels.

The ceiling of the church

Colorful boats in the harbor

Inside one of the palafitos.  This is a kitchen counter.

Stairway in the palafito.

It was low tide (tide changes every 6 hours here) but the view of the palafitos is still pretty

The other side of the palafito houses, street side.

Dining room

Looking out from the terrace

The cemetery

More inside the church

The outside of the church in Conchi

That's a snow capped volcano in the background!

Travel quote:  "Once you have traveled, the Voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers.  The mind can never break off from the Journey."  Pat Conroy

Stay tuned for more Pig Tales!!