Puerto Montt, Bariloche, and El Boson
03.19.2011 - 03.05.2012
Its been a fabulous two weeks since I was last able to update. The protests in Aysen are still continuing and gave us some trouble gettting out of Aysen. We luckily found a fabulous hostel in Coyhaique owned by a German family where we met some really interesting people, relaxed, ate amazing German bread, and figured out how to get out of the region. Most of the folks in the hostel were also trying to get out of the city, so we were all strategizing together. Finally we came up with a plan that amazingly worked. We had to get a plane to Puerto Montt (only a one hour flight). Simple. Yeah right. We still had to get to the airport which was 50 kms from the hostel and the road in between was blocked by protesters. We bought our tickets when the protesters were letting the ariport transfers through. Then (of course) the day that our flight was leaving (luckily not until 4pm) they decided to block any vehicles that were making money..ie. airport transfers, taxis, and private cars. We thought we were going to miss our flight, so we went to the airport ticket office and changed our flight to the next day. We figured we would have to hike the distance and pray for a hitch along the way. An Austrian couple we met, Hanz and Sandra, were on the same flight as us and Sandra found us a private car. At the time we thought the private car could get through so we were relieved. The airline luckily said that if we made it that day and there was still space we´d be able to get on the plane. So off we went in the private car. When we got to the blocade we learned that they may not let our Chilean driver through with a bunch of gringos and their luggage, ¨pirato¨they called another driver like ours. So, we hopped out of the car, grabbed our bags, walkd through the blocade and hoped we´d see our driver on the other side. Amazingly, he got through, we were n the plane and at a boarding house in Puerto Montt by 6pm. So fantastic.
The place we found, Casa Perla, was full, but they had a couple camp spots in the backyard, which we gladly took. Here was the view from our site and Delaney eating our favorite: empanadas and the cheep (but popular) Chilean beer, Escudo.
We were not able to get a bus to Bariloche, our next destination for another day, which we were at first bummed about, but then ended up having a great day in Puerto Montt and the nearby tourist town, Puerto Varas. The weather was beautiful and we took a cheep bus out to explore Puerto Varas. There were beautiful views across the lake out the the Volcon Osorono.
The town was origionally founded by Germans in the late 1880s, so there is a lot of German influence in the architecture and food.
We met some wonderful travellers at Casa Perla that included quite an international crew: 3 women from the UK, one from the states, a guy from Germany, three people from france, a guy from the Czech Republic, a woman from Japan, and another guy from New Zeland. We had a great time drinking wine and socializing. Meeting people from all over the world has been one of the best things about this trip. Not only learning about the local culture, but learning about other travllers and their lives back in their home countries.
The day of our bus to Bariloche we had to wake up pretty early, but were lucky to catch a view of an amazing sunrise over the harbor.
The most exciting thing about getting to Bariloche was being about to meet up, for the FIRST TIME IN 10 YEARS, with my great friend Laure Godfrin. We origionally met during an exchange program in high school. She (and her brother Etienne one year) came to San Diego twice and I went to Grenoble and stayed with her wonderful family three times. It was one of the best experiences that I had during high school. Over the years Laure and I kept up periodically by email and facebook. When I posted my second blog she saw it on facebook and let me know that she was going to be visiting her family in Bariloche at the end of February with her boyfriend and his parents. Delaney and I figured out how to make our travel plans work so we could be there at the same time (which added a bit of stress to get out of Coyhaique on time!) But it all worked out and we were able to spend four days hanging out with Laure and Henrik (her boyfriend) and Laure´s Argentian family.
It was so fabulous to catch up on the last ten years in person and just be together laughing and sharing our hearts like we did back when we were 14! All of the reasons why Laure and I connected back then were still part of both our personalities: laughing a lot, talking a lot, jokes, sharing family stories, and just wanting to have fun. I am so grateful that we were able to have this time with her and Henrik. It was meaningul to learn so much about her family and even learn the family song that has some crazy German lyrics...ungekocht Hühnerkacke..Uncooked Chicken Shit!
Over the few days we spent we went out to some amazing dinners and traveled around the area in her uncle Raul´s sweet van for two days.
We saw some pretty cool lakes and the effect of the recent volcanic explosion nearby: floating pumic rocks in the lake...
...the rare native Rayan tree...
...the shortest river in the world: 300 m that flows between two lakes...
...Nahual Huapi, the lake on which Bariloche sits...
...Laure´s cousin, Mauricio´s bar, Los Vikingos...
...and in El Boson: the artisan fair, Lago Peulo nearby, and the annual Fiesta de Lupulo (Hops festival). There are many farms in El Boson that grow hops, many artisanal cerveserias (micro breweries), and each year a festival with live music to celebrate the crop. We were hoping for some hoppy beer as weel, but none to match the hoppiness of the breweries in Oregon. But, we did enjoy many good rubias and rojas (blond and red beers). We even came across a cervesa artisanal on our way to our refugio and at the refugio itself.
We said good bye to Laure and her family and headed down to stay in El Boson for a few days. The town is about 18,000 people if you include the surronding area, and sits in a beautiful valley in between two mountain ranges. We got recommendations from a lot of people to come here and it didn´t disappoint our expectations. There were a lot of refugios in the nearby mountains to hike to, lots of ecologically concisous people (ie hippies), and lots of artisan beer. Just our style! We headed out to the refugio Hielo Azul, where unfortunately I came down with a cold. I napped in the tent for a whole day and Delaney went on a day hike up to the glacier above the refugio. It was a great place actually to be sick. The refugio was well equipped and warm. There was hot water constantly warming on the wood stove, which I made many cups of mint tea from, a chess board, lots of space to chill, and a friendly staff. So even though I wasn´t feeling 100% we were having a great time.
The decomposing bridge on our way to the refugio:
After the trek we headed back to Bariloche and back to the amazing Camping Yeti, where we stayed when visiting Laure. It is the first place we have found in our price range (i.e. cheap) where we were able to get our own bed, own bathroom, mini kitchen, towels, soap, and tv. Yes, tv. Wow. We love the Yeti. Yesterday we spent an entire day just resting and relaxing, watching bad 80s movies and crime dramas, and preparing for the next leg of our journey. Its amazing how tiring traveling can be and how little things like towels and soap can become luxuries. We were hoping to trek across the Cruce de los Lagos, another boarding crossing including hiking and boat. But we realized that it would be too expensive since we are past the high tourist season, and too complicated logistically. So we are headed to Pucon tomorrow where we will get to do some more trekking and soaking in hot springs before we head back up to Santiago in time for Amaya 4th birthday (April 1st).