Marc and I are safe and sound in Bariloche Argentina. Packing up and getting ready to head out into the mountains.
When I last posted on my blog we were in Valdivia. After our hiking in Talca we spent a couple of days in Valdivia. Just like when Jill and I were in the same town 3 years ago, Marc and I headed off to see a series of islands near the town. This was the location of Spain´s last stronghold in Chile before chilean nationalists took it over. And yes, once again, I got to see students acting out the Chilean victory over the Spanish in full costume. It´s a great summer job for these kids as they act out the invasion...every hour on the hour during their summer holidays. Very fun to watch. We also spent a day heading out to a national park 40 k from town where we got to hike through temperate rain forest. Huge trees made us think of the movie Avatar and the magical land of Pandora. This seaside park had us walking through the forest for a few hours before coming back along an ocean view. Very beautiful.
The next day bright and early we headed on another bus, this time with a ferry crossing involved, to bring us to the southern island of Chiloe. Marc and I picked a small area that we wanted to delve into more deeply so ended up in CHEPU. This tiny farming community of about 250 people have recently been hit by falling milk prices, so they are very happy that tourists are finally finding out about their corner of the world. We stayed with a family on their dairy farm. The mom Sandra now makes cheese from all of the milk that their 12 cows produce. That´s 15 kilos of finished product per day. We got to learn all about it, very fun. Rafael, the dad was a fabulously welcoming fellow who randomly dragged us along for little adventures.
We spent a full day kayaking up one of the three estuary rivers in the area. Years ago an earthquake sank 120 acres of forest below sea level. the trees, now immersed in salt water, are all dead but make for an amazing kayaking experience. We spent 5 hours on the water, saw lots of beautiful water birds, and then 2 river otters rolling around in the water. They were either having an argument, or having an amorous encounter, but in either case they were too preoccupied to notice our presence for some time so we got a great look at them. And best of all, when we got home all tired and hungry, Sandra had a wonderful meal ready for us!!! Room and full board at only 30 dollars per person per day. What a great deal.
We spent our second day on a rainy morning hike out to a spit to see some penguins! Our guide must not have had us leave early enough, as we had to run through the quickly rising tide getting soaked up to our knees both on the way to and the way out of the spit. We had good timing however, as when we arrived, about 30 penguins were on the beach, taking a rest after fishing in the ocean. Lots of photos later, and another run through the rising ocean, we made our way back. Funnily enough, I though that with Marc along on this trip, i wouldn´t run into any of my usualy slough of silly men. How wrong could I be. Alphonso, our 60 year old guide, took quite a fancy to me...especially while Marc dissapeared for 10 or 15 minutes at a time to take photos. He kept flattering me, holding my hand, and trying to hug me and give me a kiss on the cheek. Jeez! When we got back home Marc told Sandra and Rafael about Alphonso´s feelings for me....apparantly I´m in good company, as Sandra told us that Alphonso is a notorious womanaizer, and had made advances towards her as well. HA.
Day 3 in Chepu Rafael brought Marc and I to a friend of his place. This friends farm is on the edge of virgin forest, so has cut a small path through the bush, to the forest (1km or so ) and built wooden rails on which to run his home made train!!! So neat. Off we went for a ride in the train then a walk through some more amazing forest. The people here with their openness and quirky ingenuity really crack me up. Love it. We had such a great time.
Onwards we went, as Marc and I caught the bus to Puerto Varas. One night there before the bus over the border which today ended us up in Bariloche. We have been speeding around town like fools getting everything ready (including the last minute purchase of a multifuel stove as Marc´s white gas camp stove is useless here with no white gas to be found...nuts). Tomorrow we start in on a 4 day hike in the mountains...I can´t wait!
Take care everyone!