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Monday, November 26, 2012

Keep hands and arms inside the vehicle until the tour has come to a complete stop...

Well, folks, my first private tour gig has officially concluded!

After our lovely and visually impressive jaunt to the waterfalls and Osorno Volcano on Saturday, on Sunday we (re: they, the paying tourists) opted for a trip to Chiloe.

In doing so, we left the South American Continent. 

Let me explain. The island of Chiloe is just that, an island, part of Patagonia (technically), but not connected to South America. People that live in Chiloe say "Let's go to the continent" when they travel north. We drove from Puerto Varas about an hour south, parked the car on a huge boat that looked similar to the one that takes you to Put-In-Bay, and after thirty minutes we were at Chacao (not Put-In-Bay).

Took this looking out of the bathroom.
Good thing I was there, because I almost
made peepee in my pantalones again when I
spotted the sea lions sunning on some buoys nearby.

Chiloe is about 200km long and full of interesting villages and cities and opportunities for nature appreciation. Contrary to the area around Lake Llanquihue, it was founded by the Spaniards, but you couldn't tell from what we saw; all of the buildings looked basically the same as the German colonial buildings. We started by ambling through the village of Chacao, full of colorful houses and pretty gardens, and I translated a lot of information about the use of the native tree, Alerce.

Cuteness times three.
I like the middle house because it is oddly shaped. 

A lot of houses were made using Alerce wood.
The tree grows at a rate of 1cm per year, and it can
take hundreds of years for them to reach maturity.
Historical areas like Chacao ask that the shop owners
don't paint their buildings to preserve the look and feel of the buildings.

After Chacao, we went to one of the three major cities on the island of Chiloe: Ancud. There wasn't much to see but we wandered around the city, checked out a cute museum about the history of the area, and then visited a Spanish Fort.

This tower represents something about history...
I took this picture more for the clouds. 
(Tour Guide Fail.)

Today's adventures included the delightful German village of Frutillar. We stopped first at a corporate seed company, to search for some white potato seeds. The couple I interpreted for is involved in big farm business and are avid growers/appreciators of vegetables and flowers, so the guys chatted seed business talk (in English) while I educated myself on the astounding variety of potato that exists in the world (via entertaining posters featuring the same model in various stages of consuming the different types of potato - Crisps, Traditional, French Fries, and Salad). It was interesting to learn about, but I felt distantly uneasy... I wondered if these companies are involved in GMO shenanigans, and they deal with the potato business on an international scale. The seed company we visited today sold directly to Frito-Lay. 

After that we drove around Frutillar Bajo, the lower part of the city that sits directly on the lake and caters more to tourism. The view of the volanoes was astounding, and actually you could see more than just Osorno and Kalbuco. 

The iPhone doesn't do it justice.
The  view from Frutillar was one of the best I've seen so far
(not counting the views I had from being on the actual volcano).

We had lunch; I tried something totally typical called Longaniza a lo pobre, which is essentially enormous sausage links served with carmelized onions and 2 eggs over-easy on top, with a side of french fries. I only ate one of the enormous links; I left the other one for an overzealous server or kitchen staff member to hopefully consume. I consider myself a Real Food Girl - I prefer to eat things that come from the earth; unprocessed, or minimally processed at best. This is why I cook the majority of my meals. My meals tend to consist of vegetables, rice, quinoa, beans, etc. 

But, this also means that I don't eat a lot of meat. I have not purchased meat to cook or prepare for perhaps five years, at least. When I do consume the flesh of animals in a public arena, it's usually fish, or chicken. But meat? Oh god. I looked at that sausage with dismay and disdain (not to mention a little curiosity). The last time I had something similar was in Glasgow, Scotland (or somewhere thereabouts) in 2009, when I ate that typical heinous meat-link dish that I can't remember the name of. I felt i should at least do Chile's typical dish a little justice since I disparage the cuisine so frequently, so I ordered it, and I ate half, goddamnit. I ate half. 

After the heinous meat excursion, my fellow Americans and the illustrious Marcelo ventured back onto the town (a whole two streets wide), and wandered to the German Colonial Museum, where we learned about watermills and archaic tools and what it was like to be a settler in the New Germany (i.e. Chile) and have amazing views of volcanoes from your back porch.

The watermill was amazing. Not because it was shocking,
or aesthetically surprising, or any of that. Just because 
the design was so simple and effective.
I guess I never thought about it before, but...
Seriously, colonial people - genius. 

After I had properly reveled in the genius of the watermill,
I lounged about some gardens and wore flowers in my hair.

Here I am on the grounds of the colonial museum,
sporting a flower on top of my head. 
It was interesting visiting the colonial museum because
it was in a Chilean context. I always thought of 
colonial things as distinctly American. Not true. 

This experience was wonderful. I'm not sure when Marcelo will call again, or if he will at all, but I am at least extremely satisfied (both personally and financially) with this opportunity. I got to travel to a variety of must-see sights for free, with good people, learning things the entire way. I couldn't ask for more. Thank you, Marcelo, thank you Chile, and thank you Osorno. You all are wonderful. 

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