I am a surprisingly linear person for being so disorganized and forgetful. I know it has been 6 months since we went to Chile, and 3 months since I posted on this blog, but I cannot stand to just skip ahead to current events. So here is a post I started writing on March 17th. Maybe I can finish it with less detail and just get it the heck done, since my memory has largely fogged over already:
While we were in Chiloé, we took a "day-hike" to one of the most gorgeous places I have been. We drove to the western side of the island, then took a boat across a river (from the north bank to the south) down to nearly the mouth at the Pacific. The crazy thing about this river is that it didn't use to be quite so low and wide. The world's biggest ever recorded earthquake in 1960 sank the whole valley something like 6 meters (of course John claimed everything was 6 meters). We got out and told the boat driver we would be back by 6 pm and started walking. We walked past a farm and through a field with a cow (I hope it was a cow and not a bull)(where we also saw an amazing red-blooming tree of some kind) to avoid some of the worst mud of a very muddy trail.
After about a quarter mile we came out onto a bluff overlooking the longest empty beach ever. It was amazing. I thought, "We're there! That was easy." Yeah, no. Kate and John point at the far headland with an island cut off the end of it (can you see it in the distance?) and say "That's where we're going." It doesn't look so far. Yeah, no.
We start walking along the beach where we see amazingly large leathery kelp, enormous whale bones, beautiful huge sea urchin shells, a shipwreck and even a real life message in a bottle!
We walked up over the closer headland through a seemingly endless sea of these red and green fern-like things.
It turns out they were about the only vegetation that could stand up to the ...
...(wait for it) ...
... COWS! Remember, the only way to get to this area is to walk (or ride a horse) and there was a herd of cows (and a barn) happily munching away!
So we walk on and on after passing the cows. When we went through areas with trees that meant going through their DEEP mud. Luckily there was one gorgeous view after another. After about 1 1/2 hours John started to say "We're almost there!" Yeah, no.
Finally we top the final hill and there it is --yeah, yeah!--Parque Ahuenco. The tide was too high to get out to the island with the Humboldt Penguins, but I could see them through the binoculars! We also saw a pair of Steamer Ducks. They are so funny--big huge gray things that don't even fly.
Taking up the strand again in JUNE here:
We had a well deserved lunch with the caretaker of the property in her little cabin. Not much of a house, but amazing views! If you want to live in the middle of absolutely nowhere for awhile, let me know. They have a hard time keeping reliable caretakers for very long stretches of time at such a remote place. If you stay for more than an afternoon the caretakers come meet you with horses to carry your big packs. There's nowhere for the horses to run away to, so they just run on the beach looking like they should be in the movies. The caretakers listen to the radio at noon every day and if someone is coming it's announced on the radio. So many people live on little islands and things around southern Chile, without any TV or phones or much in the way of electricity or mail delivery, that's the only way they know what's going on. Even kids' high school exam scores are announced!
After lunch, guess what? We turned around and walked back. A little food and a swig or two of beer in my tummy made it more bearable, but we really had to hustle. Our feet and lower legs and some of our backsides which shall remain nameless were well coated in mud and ox poop by the time we got back to the boat landing. We didn't make it back to the boat until a bit after 7pm. The boat driver was starting to worry. I guess an hour late is starting to be significant even in Chile.
On the short drive back to John's sister's house we stopped at a little campsite/hostel/rental cabin place which is trying to run mostly on solar and wind power.
You can really see the sunken landscape from their view.
On the road agin then we saw a pudu, an adorable little deer like creature that only lives in southern Chile.
I was SO glad to get back to the comfort of Joan and Dan's summer house and Joan's delicious warm meals and pisco sours and ohuitas (after dinner warming digestive fresh herb teas; not sure of spelling though)! Ahh, comfort after "adversity."
We should all be so lucky as to have a gnarly day-hike be the hardest thing we have to face. Remember to donate to Doctors Without Borders (click on the Knitters Without Borders link to the right) or your favorite humanitarian relief charity regularly.