Archive for April, 2016

Chile and Patagonia 2016 – Castro, Chiloe Island

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Date Explored: February 9th

Yi-yi, what an adventure! We set forth from Chepu Adventures EcoLodge to a completely mysterious B&B in the Ten Ten area of Castro, which is the major city on Chiloe Island. We were extremely lucky to find accommodation. Upon arriving at Castro, we took the very first opportunity to stop and gaze at the palafitos (houses on stilts) while the tide was in:

These were on our left as we drove into Castro with our horrible directions to the B&B. Our directions consisted of an address in “Ten Ten,” but we had no idea what “Ten Ten” was. Turned out it was an area on the outskirts of Castro, before you get to the palafitos.

Palafitos on the right, later when the tide was out. There are restaurants on stilts in Castro, even a gym on stilts! The architectural style has existed in Castro and other Chiloean cities since the late 19th century.

We had decided that we weren’t going to book ahead for our two-night stay in Castro. Instead, we would stumble upon whatever we found once we were there. That was before we discovered we were traveling at the height of Chilean travel season (for Chileans). On the advice of our host at Chepu Adventures, we went ahead and found a B&B on Booking.com the night before leaving, and, let me tell you, the Interweb pickings were slim. When we arrived in Castro, the traffic was crazy, it was hot, and the little hotels along the main drag looked hot and sweaty and noisy. Our B&B sounded fantastic…if only we could find it.

We stopped at a gas station to ask directions. The guys were pretty sure the gas station attendant said to head back out of town and take “the second right,” but for reasons unknown to SILly and Moi, the guys took the first right, “just to see” if they could find the B&B that way, you know, not trusting that they heard “the second right.” Hey, I wasn’t driving. I had to leave things in the capable hands of our resident experts.

We drove a lot of dusty gravel road. Finally, when we began to wonder if our B&B existed, my dh, who was in charge that day, noticed a Castro police car on the side of the road. So we stopped, and he attempted to communicate in his lousy Spanish (have I mentioned we neglected to bring our handy little Latin American Spanish guide on our trip?).

My poor dh! He couldn’t understand the police officers’ Spanish well enough, and they couldn’t speak or understand English at all. So he got the bright idea to take my iPad to the police, so they could look at the address. They understood immediately where it was and attempted to communicate the information, but alas, alack, amiss, it was not to be understood. These police officers would not let a little language barrier stop them from helping us! First, they called the B&B to ask questions and let them know they had their guests. Really, they were looking for a stolen car, but I think we were more interesting. Because next thing you know, they volunteered to escort us to the B&B!

The coppers turned on the lights and drove very, very quickly toward our destination, which consisted of several twists and turns on the dusty gravel road. BILly (a “professional driver”) kept up rather well. FINALLY, we arrived at our destination, which was a one-bedroom plus loft guest house, I guess, on a larger property.

If you’ve been following my Chilean adventures, you might remember that my husband brought two gifts from Canada to give to folks who he felt went above-board. One he gave to our wine tour guide around Santiago. The next he gave to the officer who helped us, and the officer was very happy. ūüôā ūüôā

Too bad, so sad, we found our destination but our hosts had not finished cleaning it for our arrival. No problem, we went back into town for lunch. We parked down at the water and found a place called Nueve Galicia. It was excellent. If you’re in Castro, you have to eat here! We sat at the very back, which meant we had a view of the cooks:

“BILly and me” eyeballing the cooks.

BILly had “Curanto,” a traditional southern Chile dish, which consisted of mussels and potato and dumpling-thingies and ham and pork and sausage and…you could go on!

After lunch, we visited the Church of San Francisco downtown, which is famous for being constructed entirely of wood on the interior (we would see another church like this the following day). Exterior:

The nice bright yellow begged us to enter!

Pictures can’t do the interior of the Chiloe wooden churches justice. It was just breathtaking.

Finally, remembering our directions from the kind police officers, we returned to The Loft at our B&B, and discovered, to our delight, that it was practically brand new. DH and I took the bedroom, and BILly and SILly took the loft. We shared the fashionable bathroom. Everything about the place was funky and fashionable. The Loft came with a little fridge and sink and stove, and also with a wood-fired hot tub that had never been used before. It took quite a while to get going, but eventually those of us who wished were able to enjoy a soak.

Trying to get the hot tub going!

Yes, I found it necessary to cackle loudly and pretend to be a witch preparing to stir her victims. Yours is not to ask why. Yours is to simply wonder...

Yes, I found it necessary to cackle loudly and pretend to be a witch preparing to stir her victims. Yours is not to ask why. Yours is to simply wonder…

 

#ListifyLife Spring Challenge – Scents That Conjure Memories

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Sorry for the blurriness in this week’s image:

Listify_Scents

This week’s theme is Scents that Conjure up Memories

  • Fresh Pastry –> Paris. My then-boyfriend/now-husband and I backpacked through Europe during our university years. Okay, this was a long time ago, and I had never tasted croissants before! For years after visiting Paris, and even sometimes now (despite the proliferation of croissants in my part of Canada since), if I pass a bakery and catch the whiff of freshly baked pastries, I am transported back to memories of the left bank, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sewers of Paris (which was a very interesting tour, although no croissants were consumed during the informative boat trip).
  • Chainsaw Oil or Sawdust –> My Husband’s Early Forestry Days.¬†My husband is now in the business end of the forest industry, but he began as a silviculture field forester plus he logged with my dad for a brief spell. Now, whenever he gets firewood or “prunes” (his term for huge tree haircuts) in our backyard and then comes in the house, when I hug him I breathe deeply of his work shirt. I admit it, I find the scent of chainsaw oil and/or sawdust romantic! (By the by, the hero in WHERE SHE BELONGS, Adam Wright, is a forester–shameless plug).
  • Mothballs –> Visiting Other Granny. My “Other Granny” was my mom’s mom, my maternal grandmother. She always lived in very small houses, and the closets smelled like mothballs. She has been gone a very long time, but I will forever associate the scent with her. And you know what? She’s not the sort who would mind it. ūüôā
  • Scent of Fireplace Burning (well, firewood IN fireplace) –> Watching Movies on TV with my DH and Our Kids.¬†I love the scent of firewood burning in an open fireplace! We are lucky enough to have a wonderful chimney in the middle of our house, in the family room, which is in the basement. My family loves movies, and we watched a lot of movies with our kids with a hearty fire crackling on the hearth. When your fireplace is in the middle of the house, as opposed to an exterior wall, a fire in the fireplace heats the whole place, giving it a super cozy feeling. The scent is “home” to me.

Do you have any scents that conjure up good memories?

Chile and Patagonia 2016 – Chiloe Island, Chepu Adventures

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Dates Explored: February 7 – 9

Originally, we decided to visit Chiloe Island off the coast of Chile so we could visit the town of Castro and see the houses on stilts. That led to us discovering Puerto Varas (discussed in last post) and also a place called Chepu Adventures, where you can stay overnight and arrange to kayak at dawn amidst the dead trees and sunken forest of the Chepu River. Now, I am not athletic and have only kayaked a couple of other times in my life, but the story of the sunken forest had grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go.

In 1960, Chile suffered the most massive earthquake of the twentieth century. Magnitude 9.5, the strongest quake ever recorded. It hit the particular region we were traveling in hard, and the effect was devastating. Our host at Chepu Adventures described how the earth dropped around 10 feet in the area of the Chepu River where we were, and the resulting tsunami rushed in and swamped the forest, the salt water killing the trees and bleaching them white, which is how they remain to this day.

Now imagine getting up at 5 a.m. and heading down a path to the river to go kayaking. And the only people doing this are you and your three travel companions. It’s not the sort of opportunity I am good at missing. ūüôā

There are directions to get to Chepu Adventures from the mainland on their website. Basically, you drive from Puerto Varas or Puerto Montt to Pargua, from where you can take a short ferry to Chiloe Island. They leave every 20 minutes or so, and you don’t have to reserve in advance. It’s a commuter ferry, always on the go. There is a lot of gravel road on Chiloe Island, so keep that in mind when booking a rental car. Ours was a little low to the ground (a typical sedan).

We arrived at Chepu Adventures after a bit of a confusing journey, because we felt it necessary to have lunch in Ancud first. But we finally found the place. There are two matrimonial cabins for rent (as in they have a double bed).

The view of our cabana from SILly and BILly's cabana.

The view of our cabana from SILly and BILly’s cabana.

Be prepared for bugs if you travel there in Chilean summer!

Also be prepared to see tiny Chilean dear called pudu. I didn’t see any pudu¬†myself, but everyone else in my party did. I was back in my cabana when the pudu decided to make themselves known. Sorry, no photos of the Pudu from Cindiana Jones, who is embarrassed, but such is life. I did get to see some really cute cats.

And here is the interior of our cabana:

It was quite comfortable, but one of the goals at Chepu Adventures is for the guests to use as little water as possible. Apparently, they have a way to track if you are using too much. It's supposed to be fun, competing to use the least amount of water, but in the end I guess we didn't use our allotment because it was never nastily turned off. But we were very good. So good that I needed to take a shower at the very next accommodation opportunity....

It was quite comfortable, but one of the goals at Chepu Adventures is for the guests to use as little water as possible. Apparently, they have a way to track if you are using too much. It’s supposed to be fun, competing to use the least amount of water, but in the end I guess we didn’t use our allotment because it was never nastily turned off. But we were very good. So good that I needed to take a shower at the very next accommodation opportunity….

It was nice to have a little patio and the table and chairs, but there were too many big bee-type bugs to encourage me. I spent most of my time at the main lodge, where you have dinner (big dinners!! Way too much food. We overate trying to be accommodating to our hosts). My time at the main lodge was spent gazing out at the view. Because it was incredible, and pictures can’t do it justice. It was like looking out at a beautiful oil painting.

The stretch of river upon which we would kayak at dawn the following morning. Alack, I am not being a very good travel blogger, because I did not take a camera on the kayak trip. I figured I would be lucky not to drown. So I just enjoyed the experience.

The stretch of river upon which we would kayak at dawn the following morning. Alack, I am not being a very good travel blogger, because I did not take a camera on the kayak trip. I figured I would be lucky not to drown. So I just enjoyed the experience.

The next morning, you get up at a time agreed-upon the night before with the host, and this fellow named Carl magically showed up. We hadn’t seen Carl before this point. There was another fellow who magically showed up when it was time to serve dinner. Otherwise, we saw our hosts. There are a lot of great photos of the kayaking experience on Trip Advisor.

We happened to have a rainy day. That’s just the way the ball bounces. So we kayaked, and it was eerie and surreal and quiet. BILly, being an experienced outdoors-man,¬†spotted an otter, but by the time my husband and I made our way over, BILly had scared the otter away (my theory is he scared away the pudu, too). BILly and SILly got very close to a heron or crane (it was very dark when we started out, so we were guessing a lot of time where we were supposed to go, what sunken tree branches to grab and sit for a spell, etc). You guessed it, the crane/heron/bird thing disappeared as soon as my husband and I kayaked along. I am beginning not to believe BILly’s fishing stories as a result…

A close-u (with my zoom lens) of the view of the Chepu River sunken forest, taken from the main lodge).

A close-up (with my zoom lens) of the view of the Chepu River sunken forest, taken from the main lodge. You are not allowed to kayak into any of the tributaries. There is a vague route the hosts explain, and you stick to that. These people are very passionate about the river, so I wouldn’t want to tick them off and venture out of bounds, but that’s me.

After the kayaking trip, you’re left with a whole ‘nother day. You can choose to stay only one night, but we had opted for two. And, really, even though it rained a LOT on our kayak day, it was comfortable hanging around the lodge and just soaking up the gorgeous views. Our host packed us a light lunch, and we followed directions to drive to a point where we could walk down a very steep gravel road (not suitable for our rental vehicle), and the idea was to walk to the ocean. But it was cold and rainy, and the ocean, she seemed very far away. Maybe we turned the wrong dune.

Here I am on the dunes:

We could see the ocean from this dune and we could hear the waves, but we didn't want to walk to the two joined rivers, we specifically wanted to walk to the ocean, and after lunch we decided it was time just to return to the lodge and try to squeeze in a hot shower.

We could see the ocean from this dune and we could hear the waves, but we didn’t want to walk to the two joined rivers, we specifically wanted to walk to the ocean, and after lunch we decided it was time just to return to the lodge and try to squeeze in a hot shower.

Dune foliage ready for its close-up:

Chepu_Foliage

Would I recommend Chepu Adventures? In the end, I would have to say, yes, it was a good experience. The one night would suffice, I believe, as long as you arrive early enough the first day to get enough of the view. We strictly didn’t need the second night, but to me in the planning stages it seemed odd to go all that way and then only stay one night.

While we were there, we saw evidence of perhaps a ferry crossing being constructed, and we also saw more construction along the river. But the spot itself felt very isolated. So you go for the kayak adventure and a hike, and then you continue on your travels.

Thanks to our host Amory, we came to realize that it was high tourist season on Chiloe. We hadn’t booked accommodations in Castro, to where we would drive the next day. She recommended that we should, and so SILly and I found online what appeared to be the only spot available in an area of Castro called Ten-Ten. We wound up with a police escort to our bed-and-breakfast.

But that’s a story for another time!

#ListifyLife – Weird Talents or Skills I Have

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

ListifyWeirdTalents

Welcome back to the #ListifyLife Spring Challenge! Weird Talents or Skills I Have…

  • Conversing with Animals and Puppets, Especially Allie McBeagle. Now, I have enjoyed talking “for” animals and inanimate objects since I was around 18 and my then-boyfriend/now-husband bought me a Grover hand puppet. Honestly, creative folks shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near muppets, puppets, and the like. I always talked “a bit” for previous cats and dogs, but Allie McBeagle pretty much jumped into my brain and started conversing regularly with me from the time she was a few months old. She’s slowing down in that department now that she’s 14 and a half. She no longer reports on her earlier¬†entrepreneurial endeavors (like beagle T-shirts, the Beaglah University she started in England, or “Alpha Training”), but we do okay. Believe me when I say, with a beagle around, I am never alone.
  • Predicting Weather with My Knee.¬†Eighteen seems to have been a defining year for me. In 1978 I was in a high school production of Oklahoma, and I had to dance during some dream sequence scene. There was a wagon wheel backstage, and someone (accidentally, I hear) pushed me into it right before I needed to go on-stage. I really REALLY hurt my knee, but didn’t tell¬†the doctor about it for, oh, thirty years. It took several months for the knee to heal to the point where I only have to pop it several times a day. I really don’t know what’s wrong with it, but it’s fairly reliable at predicting rain. It’s really picking up on barometric pressure changes in the air, not actual rain. But if I tell you, “It’s gonna rain,” I usually mean within hours.
  • Objects Fly Off Shelves/Out of My Hands for No Reason. I can’t quite figure this one out. All I know is that if I’m opening the bathroom medicine cabinet, 80% of the time something will fly out at me. Or I’ll drop whatever I’m holding that I just took out. This goes for kitchen cabinets, too. I gather it’s because I’m a klutz or not paying enough attention, or I lack hand-eye coordination, but I’m also the type who gets in an elevator which then refuses to go anywhere, or if I step on an escalator I’m likely to get my jacket caught in some mechanism or other. This sort of thing happens to me all of the time. I’ve just come to accept it, but my husband shakes his head.
  • I Can Put My Foot Behind My…Never Mind. My chiropractor says not to do it anymore, so I haven’t practiced in awhile. It’s just one foot. The other doesn’t work as well. But putting my foot…wherever I can put it just leads to spinal problems, so we’re done with that.

Do you have any weird talents or skills?

Chile and Patagonia 2016 – Puerto Varas and Lago Llanquihue

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Dates Explored: February 5 – 7, 2016

Last we left off, we were on Easter Island. On February 4th we basically flew back to the Hilton by the Santiago Airport and crashed (as in fell into bed) for our flight the next day from Santiago to Puerto Montt, from where we would rent a car and drive to Puerto Varas. Some Travel Tips!

  • Remember when I said the Holiday Inn by the airport was more expensive than the Hilton Garden Inn? I guess because it’s really close and you don’t have to get a shuttle. For the Hilton by the airport you need a shuttle, and, man, did we waste a lot of time getting organized. There seemed to be no easy way, with the language barrier, for us to find which was the free shuttle that would take us to the Hilton Garden Inn. We were told a number of things and eventually we found our way. I guess I should have taken note of how to find the shuttle for other travelers reading this, but it’s out of my brain now, sorry. Maybe google “how to find shuttle for Hilton Garden Inn at Santiago Airport.” It’s one of those things that once you know (if you remember), it seems sorta easy, but at the time it seems crazy disorganized.
  • If you decide to rent a car at the Puerto Montt airport (recommended, and booking in advance also recommended), do not, I repeat, do NOT ask the rental car folks for their wi-fi password so you can email the supposedly non-existent front desk at your destination hotel. You might get the information you need (“Yes, of course we have a front desk, you nimrod, we don’t care what the hotel sites say about emailing or calling ahead to find out how to get in”), but you might also find yourself suddenly locked out of your email. This happened to poor Moi, who just wanted to send one simple email. My server decided it looked super suspect that I had been in Chile for two weeks, was in Easter Island two days earlier and had now–gasp!–found my way to Southern Chile. So, you know, best thing is to lock Cindy out and force her to spend an hour chatting with tech support once at the hotel instead of having a Pisco Sour.

Yes, use the rental car wi-fi at your own risk. In retrospect, a quick in-and-out check of my email might have appeared suspect, so I can’t totally blame my server.

Here’s another Travel Tip! Let your server know you are traveling and where. Just like you might do with your credit card company. Why didn’t I think of that?

By all means, rent a car at the Puerto Montt airport and head straight to Puerto Varas, which is maybe half an hour away at most via Route 5 and ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL. If I ever have the chance to visit Chile again, I think I would spend more time in the Lagos region (lakes). We had two nights in Puerto Varas before heading to Chiloe Island, and we could have easily used a few more days to drive north and view more stunning country.

Once in Puerto Varas, we stayed at the Radisson, which was right on the lake, which is stunning. Yes, if you’re Canadian you have seen stunning lakes before, especially if you live in B.C., but it’s always a thrill to find equally stunning lakes elsewhere. I admit, we are spoiled at home for our lakes in B.C.

The Radisson is a great spot. Comfy rooms, walking distance to eating and supermarkets and to the festival grounds half a block away (yes, we had somehow located another festival). Our traveling partners went to bed “early” while DH and I went and hung around with locals and listened to some fantastic bands and music.

The next morning we hopped into our rental car. I was the Secretary or Leader for the day, which meant I was in charge of the purse-strings and making final decisions (such as, yes, boys, we are going to drive around the entire lake). We headed to Petrohue Falls (which really reminded us of B.C.) and then made for our major destination of the day, a view of Lake Llanquihue (sorta say it like Lake Yankeeway) from Volcano Osorno. Volcano Calbuco blew in 2015, but Osorno is still a ski mountain, and you can ride up the chairlifts, walk around, and maybe take a zip line coming down. All recommended!

Lake Llanquihue from partway up the mountain drive. We stopped to help some South American women with their overheating vehicle (the boys poured most of our drinking water into their radiator for them).

Lake Llanquihue from partway up the mountain drive to Volcano Osorno. We stopped to help some South American women with their overheating vehicle (the boys poured most of our drinking water into their radiator for them). Lake Llanquihue is big and round, the second largest lake in Chile, about 330 square miles. It takes 5 or so hours to drive around the entire lake, and we didn’t realize the road would not be paved the whole way around. There was a lot of gravel terrain, but it was an adventure.

Looking back at the lake partway up one of two chairlifts to the top. You can see the little ski village. We had lunch there.

Looking back at the lake partway up one of two chairlifts to the top. You can see the little ski village. We had lunch there.

After two chairlift rides, we found ourselves at 1670 meters/5478 feet at the Estacion Glacier. Remember, we were there during their summer, and that's why there is no snow.

After two chairlift rides, we found ourselves at 1670 meters/5478 feet at the Estacion Glacier. Remember, we were there during their summer, and that’s why there is no snow. If you want to see snow on the volcano, visit the Volcan Osorno Ski Resort website¬†or google Volcan Osorno winter and click Images.

I confess, I might have taken this photo before the one above. I might have taken it from the chairlift. Or I might have taken it from the top. Alas, alack, amiss, the memory is amuck. But I wanted to show the ash we were hiking in and a bit of the toe of the glacier (covered in snow in winter) leading to the peak.

I confess, I might have taken this photo before the one above. I might have taken it from the chairlift. Or I might have taken it from the top. Alas, alack, amiss, the memory is amuck. But I wanted to show the ash we were hiking in and a bit of the toe of the glacier (covered in snow in winter) leading to the peak.

I mean, wow, isn't stunning? No filters were used in these photos at all. That's just how beautiful it was. We were lucky that the clouds allowed us a wee break so I could snap this view. We also had a view of Volcano Calbuco, which blew in 2015, but the peak was always covered in cloud...or maybe just blown off. At any rate, we heard stories about the eruption from an engaging fellow who kept us entertained back at the second chairlift while we were waiting for our chance to ride the zip line.

I mean, wow, isn’t this stunning? No filters were used in these photos at all. That’s just how beautiful it was. We were lucky that the clouds allowed us a wee break so I could snap this view. We also had a view of Volcano Calbuco, which blew in 2015, but the peak was always covered in cloud…or maybe just blown off. At any rate, we heard stories about the eruption from an engaging fellow who kept us entertained back at the second chairlift while we were waiting for our chance to ride the zipline.

Yes, you can zipline down Osorno! You don’t have to book in advance, just walk up to the little window where you buy the tickets to ride the chairlift. You have to tell them at that point if you want to book a zipline trip and they will sell you the appropriate tickets. First, you take two chairlifts up to view the glacier (you don’t have to take the second one if you only want to zipline; in that case, just take one chairlift), and you can do this sort of thing even if you’re afraid of heights. Just make sure the other person in your chairlift ISN’T afraid of heights. I had begun conquering my fear in Peru six years earlier, and luckily I had ziplined twice before, once at Whistler (terrifying) and once in the Okanagan Valley of B.C. (still terrifying but not as much). The Osorno zipline was my third attempt, but it’s set up differently and our group of four were the only English speakers. So the friendly Chilean guy we met, Francisco I believe was his name, interpreted for us while safety instructions were being delivered. There might have been something lost in the translation, because I was not quite clear on what to do if big winds blew up and stopped me IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LONGEST ZIPLINE. You know that idiot who winds up stopping and can’t get going again? Yup, that was me.

Part of the issue was language. The zipline is the type where you wear a thick leather glove and hold the line and use the glove as your overhead brake. I hadn’t ridden that type of zip before and like I say, I lost something in the translation. So not only did the wind stop me cold on the longest of the four ziplines, but I then had no clue what to do to get going again. I gazed in wonder at Lago Llanquihue and tried to will my heart to stop beating in my throat. I was getting quite freaked out.

Here is what it looks like if you’re doing it correctly:

That's, um, not me. That's SILly.

That’s, um, not me. That’s SILly.

I had stopped quite a ways back…. Ahem. So my husband and the Chilean zipline guy are yelling directions, and I’m like “What? What? Frack, my heart! Frick, the height! Nice lake! I am going to die! I AM the idiot hanging on the zipline who does not know what to do!!!”

My husband and the zippy guy decided to hop off the landing platform and come to help me. My husband was giving me instructions to pull myself hand-over-hand, which, frankly, was what Francisco had mentioned but I had forgotten (in my fear). But then the Chilean guy said, “Just let go!” (Ah, so he did know some English; maybe he hand-gestured, my lungs were in my ears at that point).

“Just let go!” does not mean you will fall onto the ashy ground, it means you will grasp your hanging thingies with both hands instead of one hand on the brake and the second on the thingy. Thusly, thisly, thashly, you will zip to the platform.

How embarrassing.

After a lunch at the ski lodge, we headed back down the mountain and began our circumvention of the lake. We saw a lot of this:

The gravel road was a surprise and we weren't quite sure if we were heading in the right direction, but eventually we realized we were, and we also got to see a lot of Chileans enjoying summer in what was, to us, a freezing cold lake. We came upon a lot of campsites with cars and families cavorting and picnicking. We also came across this nice hawk, who posed for me with the volcano in the background:

The gravel road was a surprise and we weren’t quite sure if we were heading in the right direction, but eventually we realized we were, and we also got to see a lot of Chileans enjoying summer in what was, to us, a freezing cold lake. We came upon a lot of campsites with cars and families cavorting and picnicking. We also came across this nice hawk, who posed for me with the volcano in the background:

Volcano Osorno with hawk who REFUSED to look at me. Hmph!

Volcano Osorno with hawk who REFUSED to look at me. Hmph!

One of the things we read to do was head to a small town called Fruitilar, but if Fruitilar is your destination, head LEFT out of Puerto Varas. Believe me when I say you will get there a lot faster. Head RIGHT if you want to visit Petrohue Falls and Osorno. Coming into Fruitilar the way we did isn’t as, picturesque, shall we say, as driving from Puerto Varas to Fruitilar.

Any way you want to slice it, the Lagos Region is a site to behold. I am so grateful to folks on Trip Advisor for sharing their experiences. We flew to Puerto Montt as a way to get to Chiloe Island via ferry, but someone on TA told me Puerto Varas was not to be missed, and they were right. I would have loved a few more days in the area.

Two restaurants we chose in Puerto Varas were outstanding. The first night we wanted Italian and found a place that might have been Restaurant Tratria Di Carusso. Pity I didn’t write down the name. There was only one other table besides us while we were eating. I had minestrone soup that came in a cauldron that could have fed four and then beef gnocchi that was amazing. If the chef is a round older fellow sporting a feathered pen and wearing his chef hat, you’ve found the place. Amazeballs.

The second night we wanted steak but didn’t have a reservation, and it was festival time, remember, so it was super crowded (as in Chileans were filling the streets crowded). We were extremely lucky to get a table for four at La Marca. The folks in front of us had six in their party and could not be seated. We had to sit right in front of the grill, which was a bit hot (the back of my neck was to the grill), but it was great to see how they cooked, the coals, etc. And the food was divine!

I didn’t expect the food to be as wonderful as we found in Puerto Varas. I would have loved more time just to sample the gastronomic delights!

#ListifyLife – Words I Always Spell Wrong

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

ListifyWordsWrong-April

This week’s #ListifyLife theme is a weird one for me, because:

  1. I’m Canadian, so if I’m writing Canadian I automatically spell words “wrong,” like colour and theatre. I don’t spell them wrong for Canadians, and maybe not for the British (there is some confusion being Canadian because we spell some words the British way and others American), but I spell them “wrong” for Americans; and
  2. I’m a really good speller, so I had to think extra-hard about words I spell wrong.

So we have…

  • Miniscule or Minuscule? The latter is the correct spelling, but the former is becoming commonplace because it means “very small” and “mini” also now means “very small.” Here’s a link that shows I’m not in the minority getting confused!
  • Barbeque or barbecue? No wonders folks just say BBQ. I use both spellings, depending on how I feel, and I think I can safely blame the barbeque spelling on the fact that Canada is supposedly bilingual and if “barbeque” isn’t French, well, it should be. ūüôā Link¬†that says the barbeque spelling is likely Spanish…
  • License or Lisence or Licence?¬†I spell it the first way, but I often check, because a lot of times the British spelling in certain words will have an S while the American spelling has a C, or vice versa. My auto-correct says that both license and licence are correct and lisence is all types of wrong! it looks like I’m spelling American when it comes to License.
  • Onomatopoeia. I always forget the last O and spell Onomoatapeia. If you look at the photo graphic, it appears I’ve also left off the i, but I haven’t. You can see the dot of the i, but my writing can get pretty messy and in this case I’ve flowed the majority of the i from that weird little E right before it. ūüėČ
  • Supercalafragalisticexpealidocious. I mean, come on, who gets that right? I’m blaming my misspelling on the fact that it’s not a “real” word, but it’s certainly in the lexicon, isn’t it? By the way, the Interwebs¬†says the real spelling is¬†supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, so I confused some As for Is, or the other way around.
  • What words do you always spell wrong?

Find Me on Instagram!

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

I’m on Instagram¬†now and quite enjoying it. I’m basically posting pictures of Allie McBeagle¬†and my travel adventures. As I go on, I’ll add slice-of-life and publishing/author life photos. Wanna follow me?

Click www.instagram.com/cindyprocterking

(This PSA brought to you by Spell Procter with an E!.Org)

(It doesn’t exist, but it should).

Chile and Patagonia 2016 – Windows to the Sea and Last of Easter Island (Sob)

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Date Explored: February 2, 2016

Our second day with our rental vehicle began last post, during which we visited Orongo Village. But we wanted to catch one of the Tapati Festival events. Seeing as SILly and BILly are “horsey folks,” we decided to attend the horse race. Turns out it was being held on the very road we had driven the day before. So we headed back there and parked and gathered with the other tourists and Chileans. Photos:

Clint Eastwood move over.

Clint Eastwood move over.

We were right at the side of the road, but you have to be on your feet so you can quickly jump outta the way (quick on your feet, one might say).

We were right at the side of the road, but you have to be on your feet so you can quickly jump outta the way (quick on your feet, one might say).

I'm pretty sure this guy won.

I’m pretty sure this guy won.

This sporting lad was also in the race! After the race was over...

This sporting lad was also in the race! After the race was over…

“Attending a Tapati event” accomplished, we continued exploring the island. Finally, in the afternoon, there was a spot on the map we hadn’t visited yet. There was some discussion about whether we should stop to see “another” big giant head (oh, so jaded we were by then!) or head back to the cabanas for some wine. I can’t recall who was in charge that day, but it was likely SILly or myself, because we made the wise choice to visit every site we could while we had the rental vehicle. So we drove until we hit a semblance of a parking lot, for what we had no clue, but we knew it was a parking lot because there were some guys there not allowing us to drive any further on the rutted road. We were to park and walk for twenty minutes (at a brisk pace, I must say) to see whatever we were to see.

So we did that.

I recall about halfway on the walk some muttering and complaining about whether we should continue because we were not quite sure where we were going. But along the way we would encounter the odd person or couple making their way back from the spot. There was always a language barrier, but the gist of these conversations was that our journey would be worth it.

Finally, we reached a little area on the right that looked set up to sell souvenirs. There was a woman there but no souvenirs, so it was likely siesta time. On our left we could see the ocean and a chicken-scratched sign. We tried to make out the words on the sign. Now, everywhere else we went on Easter Island had matching, very-easy-to-read signs. This site, I don’t know if the signs had been removed or stolen or were simply taking a siesta, but we made out some words we eventually realized could be interpreted as “Windows to the Sea,” or the¬†Ana Kakenga Caves, as we realized looking at our map again later.

We looked up from the chicken-scratch sign. There was a dog several feet ahead, and, wait, was that a person climbing out of the ground? We had to go find out.

This poor doggy (lots of dogs on Easter Island, sitting under the rush umbrellas on the beach, napping) was monitoring the humans climbing in and out of this hole in the ground. A human emerged, so we attempted communication with our bad Spanish. Our foursome decided to descend into this:

Rapa_2_windows

The first attempt was not successful. You see, we had neglected to bring a flashlight and the batteries of both cell phones we had with us were dying. BILly attempted to descend first and declared that our light might not make it. So he and I wimped out and went to look at this lovely view below:

Rapa_2_viewwindows

Whilst (yes, I said whilst, showing that tiny bit of British in me bones), BILly and I were admiring the view DH and SILly decided to¬†try the hole again. So I’m taking pictures of the sea¬†thinking, “Crap, this is like when S and I were at Machu Picchu and I was too freaked by my fear of heights to continue on the path to the Inca Bridge! Cindy, you’re a wimp. I hope he comes back and gets you.” He did come back to get me at Machu Picchu, and he came back to get me again on Rapa Nui!

SILly and DH were excited to come back and get “BILly and me” (note Sheryl Crow reference) and lead us into the hole. After about 10 or 15 feet of squeezing and climbing down, twisting and turning to get the best foothold, the hole opened up wider, and eventually the lava tubes opened into two separate “windows” in the cliff face, the Windows to the Sea! It was incredible. No fences, no gates to keep you out, NOTHING to stop you from walking right out of a¬†window and landing on the rocks below and splitting your skull open. Simply your own personal responsibility and sense of balance.

Yes, I'm wimp enough not to get TOO close to the right window.

Yes, I’m wimp enough not to stand¬†TOO close to the right window.

If you compare, you can see that the lava rock in the ocean behind us is the same as the landscape photo above.

Cindiana Jones had lived to see another day!

From that point, we used what meagre light we had left on the phones to crawl back out and head back to the parking lot. The doggy we had seen monitoring the hole was sleeping under our vehicle. We returned the vehicle to Jorge and spent the next day, our last full day on Easter Island, relaxing at the beach again.

We flew back to Santiago on February 4th. It was the perfect amount of time on Rapa Nui. Five nights, four full days, two with a vehicle.

I am afraid of heights and suffer from motion sickness. Traveling over the last six years has forced me to try and overcome both to some extent.

Now that you know the tunnel is only 10 – 15 feet or so, would you crawl into the hole in the ground?

#ListifyLife – Little Things that Make Me Happy

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Welcome to the first April edition¬†of the #ListifyLife Spring Challenge! This week we have Little Things that Make Me Happy (as a side note, I am completely blanking on whether Me should be capitalized in a title or not…)

listify3Happy

  • Blue Skies! So, so important! I am one of those folks whose moods are affected by the weather. I really do not like gray skies. Just a little bit of blue peeking through the clouds can carry me through two days of crappy weather. Blue Skies is a really little thing that goes a long way toward making me happy.
  • Hiking with my Husband.¬†I guess “walking” is a more accurate description. I don’t get to walk/hike with my husband as often I would like, because we have to work around his work schedule and his golfing. ūüėČ But whenever we both have a weekend morning free, we get Allie McBeagle and head off to the nearest provincial park. I walk every day with Allie, but she gets to go off-lease when Steve is around. Now, she’s starting to go pretty deaf, so we have to make sure we keep an eye on her. I think my husband really enjoys these walks, as well. He warns me that when the dog goes to the Rainbow Bridge we will lose our incentive to walk. And he’s right, a dog forces you to get outdoors. But I love the walks and hikes and would participate regardless.
  • I especially love when my husband goes and fetches me a Surprise Latte before one of our walks! I can only have caffeine before, oh, 10:30 a.m. is probably safest. Maybe 11 a.m. if I want to push it. We often have coffee on our walks, but a surprise latte makes me very happy.
  • A Beagle Sleeping on My Lap. Sometimes it’s a PITN when Allie is demanding to rest with “Yap” (beagle-speak for Lap, one of her nicknames for me) and “Yap” really needs to break her brain with spreadsheets or kill her back washing floors or something. But you know what? A beagle forcing Yap to take a break is not a bad thing at all. When my dog is resting with me (on me) and snoring/snuffling away, she’s content so I’m content. One of the simple joys of life. Loving a dog.
  • Hugging my Kids! Anyone with kids, this pretty much goes without saying, but I only get to see Eldest Son in July and August, when he’s visiting from teaching high school overseas, so that First Hug is oh-so-wonderful! And each summer hug is so important because it needs to carry me throughout another year. And then there’s Youngest Son! He gives the greatest hugs. He only lives 90 minutes away, not a 10-hour plane ride away, but he’s over six feet, which is a lot taller than Moi, and I like to stand on this step in our mud room when I hug him. Whenever I hug him, I think of the tiny little 4 lb. 15 oz. preemie born 25 years ago. But now my preemie can squeeze and hug and lift me. I also have to get on the step to hug my DILly, so is also nearly six feet tall.

What little things make you happy?

Chile and Patagonia 2016 – Quarry and Orongo Village

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

Dates Explored: February 1 – 2, 2016

Last I left off, we were hopping in our rental vehicle and driving to Rano Raraku Quarry. We had eaten breakfast in town before leaving to enjoy the views, and we’d purchased fresh pineapple and watermelon and grapes and cheese and water and sliced meat and doughy crusty things. So we kind of had a picnic lunch that we nibbled on as we drove and explored. We called it the Two Squares a Day Plus Pisco Sours for All and Wine for the Winos/Water for Cindy Meal Plan. Because, apparently, I “had” to eat several times a day or I would “crash.” But, let me say, I drink a lot of milk back home and, honestly, I just had to make up those missing calories. Not being a wino myself, I had to ingest, you know, actual food.

At any rate, it was amazing to catch sight of the quarry out the car window:

words

As you approach the parking lot, you realize that those dots on the hillside are Moai! If you are on a tour bus, I don’t know, no matter how nice the guide is, how knowledgeable he or she is, they are likely to be explaining where you are heading as you are going there. There is something to be said for simply discovering where you are going as you arrive. Especially if, like our foursome, you don’t educate yourself a whole lot¬†in advance. It’s like you’re just driving along and suddenly see this spectacular sight. It’s an adventure!

Some of these statues have bodies that extend way, way into the ground. There is some argument whether all the Moai were intended to be moved from the quarry. There is a spot you can see a monster head lying horizontal half-carved from rock. Pictures don't do the quarry justice.

Some of these statues have bodies that extend way, way into the ground. There is some argument whether all the Moai were intended to be moved from the quarry. Were some intended to remain where they were carved? There is a spot you can see a monster head lying horizontal half-carved from rock. Pictures don’t do the quarry justice. I like this one because I was able to “nip” off folks walking along the path so one might think I was there all alone, like a NatGeo photographer or something. One might fantasize about such things if one is delusional or starving from lack of nutrition/Canadian milk.

It's too bad this head isn't facing the other way around. Then the people GETTING IN MY PICTURE could seem to be marching into the Moai's mouth. Seriously, I like the little troupe walking into the back of his neck.

It’s too bad this head isn’t facing the other way around. Then the people GETTING IN MY PICTURE could seem to be marching into the Moai’s mouth. Seriously, I like the little troupe walking into the back of his neck.

There is so much to see at the Quarry! We hiked up to a crater lake, and across the lake we could see more Moai. They are just everywhere.

After enjoying a light lunch (our snacks) near the quarry parking lot, we headed to see more Moai, the iconic rows of statues I remembered from my parents’ pictures. We could spy them way, way far away. So we drove to them.

We are worshiping the sun, or being the Moai, or something that no longer makes sense.

We are worshiping the sun, or being the Moai, or something that no longer makes sense.

Closeup  of the two Moai on the very right,  to show an example of one wearing the hat.  There is also a batch of inland Moai.  We bought some lovely fresh pineapple from a lady nearby.

Closeup of the two Moai on the very right, to show an example of one wearing the hat. There is also a batch of inland Moai. We bought some lovely fresh pineapple from a lady nearby.

We also explored some cave paintings and petroglyphs. There is so much to see on Easter Island!

The next day wasn’t sunny. We visited Orongo, the ancient village. It was pretty cool but we didn’t stay there long. I do believe it had started raining. We walked around and had a look, though.

The people would climb in through those little openings to sleep.

The people would climb in through those little openings to sleep.

Close-up of an entrance.

Close-up of an entrance.

One of several fallen/pushed over Moai we encountered during our explorations. I am pretty much sitting as close to the statue as I can without touching it (a no-no). Just to give an idea of the size of these things.

One of several fallen/pushed over Moai we encountered during our explorations. I am pretty much sitting as close to the statue as I can without touching it (a no-no). Just to give an idea of the size of these things.

Another thing we did our second day with the vehicle was visit one of the Festival events, a horse race. I’ll cover that next post, plus we had quite an adventure exploring the Windows to the Sea, which were another surprise…