Friday, January 09, 2004

The last few days have been great fun. I spent a day in Temuco again and finally said goodbye to Juanita. I timed my arrival at the airport in Temuco a little late and had to dismantle Toulouse in double quick time. Luckily I had befriended the policeman, Juan, at the airport and with his help I managed to check in to the flight only 20min before it left!!

In Santiago I met up with Mum, Dad and Dougal again and we went just a couple of hours south to the wine region for a spot of tasting for two days. We visited five vineyards in total - having a red and a white in each. But one was head and shoulders above the rest - Anakena, who sell to Britain. The carmenere had a wonderful smokey flavour (much like Ardbeg whiskey!).

The landscape is so totally different up here in comparison to the south. The bare hills and cacti covered hills with fertile plains between growing lots of fruit are a strark contrast to the verdent green pastures and mountains. And the temperature! Its at least 30 degrees and I´m boiled!!!

Tomorrow will be my last full day in Chile. (Sunday doesn´t count as I shall be in the airport only). I´m planning on going to the Museum of Pre-colombian art in the centre of Santiago, which is supposed to be excellent.

montgras vineyard Posted by Hello

Saturday, January 03, 2004

We had a super new year celebration in Tortel. We arrived at about 6pm just in time to see a patagonian BBQ (whole lamb cooked over an open fire) down on the beach. The skin and fleece of this luckless creature was hanging over the balcony at our residecial! We had some of the lamb for dinner and the Didier (our guide) had created a black forest gateau for pudding as a celebration of Dad's birthday! What a surprise! The parties in the village continued long past us going to bed and there was still music playing when we got up in the morning! The whole village is strung out along the shore and built into the hillside. So all the houses are on little platforms and connected by walkways - some quite high up in the air. We spent a long time wandering back to the car along these in the misty morning.

We stayed another night on Lake General Carrera before taking a couple of planes back to Puerto Montt where I am just now. Mum, Dad and Dougal have gone down to Torres del Paine for a few days but I will meet them in Santiago in the middle of next week for a wee wine tour. We´ve had some fabulous wines so far (the best a Montes Alpha merlot for those in the know) so I think we´ll be in for a bit of a treat!

patagonian bbq, tortel Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Gosh hasn`t the year gone quickly! Its Dad`s Birthday today and we`re off to a tiny little place called Tortel - the road to it was only built last year and before that you had to take a boat to get to it! The last few days down the carratera austral have been excellent - the weather has been superb and we have seen so many things. Yesterday we went up to National Reserve Tamango to try and find some huemels (a deer on the chilean national coat of arms). They tend to go higher into the mountains during the summer so I really wasn`t expecting to see any but there one was stood in the middle of the path!! Really fabulous!! The walk we took was really brillant in another way too - we saw 7 (!) different types of orchids including the magellanic orchid!

After Tortel we return to Terra Luna lodge on Lake General Carrerra where we spent a couple of days. From there we took a tiny plane over the mountains to the San Raphael glacier. A white knuckle ride to say the least! The glacier was spectacular though and we landed nearby for a little boat ride through the iceberg filled bay. Another plane flew over the glacier while we were there and it was amazing to see just how big the glacier was. The six seat plane looked like a mosiquito above the ice!!

Have a wonderful celebration tonight

Friday, December 19, 2003

Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy New Year!

I know for some of you this will be the last day at work for a little while so I hope you have a very happy few days off and enjoy spending time with your families.

I have now arrived in Puerto Montt after a six hour bus ride from Temuco. The bus called at lots of tiny towns on the panamerican highway on the way, which is why it took so long to travel the 300km. Puerto Montt is very lively and bustling with folk. Today is the day the ferry sails to Puerto Natales in the south so there´s a big ship anchored in the port. The city seems by far the biggest I have been to and much more busy than Temuco. Everywhere seems to have gone Christmas mad over the last few days and there are lots of trees decorated in the plaza and Christmas music playing in the shops. Interstingly, all the firemen seem to be out in the pedestrianized streets - I´ve no idea why!

I have found myself a very nice Hostal but they have a wedding on at the weekend so I shall have to find myself another place on Saturday. Then on Monday its off to the airport and then Puerto Varas once more. I hope the sun will shine and Mum, Dad and Dougal will get to see the volcanoes over lago Llanquihue. Our holiday will then take us down the carratera Austral - one of the remotest roads and regions in Chile. There´ll be lots of glaciers to see and I hope lots of wildlife too!

PS I have changed my return date so that I will get back home in the middle of January. I have had a brilliant adventure here in Chile. It might not have been the one I had planned but I have seen so many wonderful things and met some very interesting people too.

angelmo market, purto montt Posted by Hello

Monday, December 15, 2003

After my message first thing this morning I had to dash off to get the car. I was taking a couple of the lads I had met in the hostel last night for a trip to Petrohue in the Vincent Perez Rosales National Park. We all had a huge breakfast of scarmbled eggs and dived into the car. Only it wouldn´t start! The battery was completely flat, I had left the lights on overnight (no useful tecno thing that bleeped at me!). Luckily we were opposite a petrol station and we pushed the car into there. And then the attendent proceded to remove my battery replace it with another and start the car and then replace mine while it was running!!!!!

Luckily all went well after that and I drove down to the park with no further problems. The sun stayed out and I got to see the whole of Volcans Osorno and Calbuco! Fabulous sight - lots of snow and craggy bits! The waterfalls down at Petrohue were brilliant - flowing over a lava bed. The lake was also very pretty (Todos Los Santos) and we took a hike up one of the short trails - not very well signed and ended walking back down the shore and across some private property! No problems though. The park was so pretty in the sunshine I really wished I was on Toulouse but after my walk on Chiloe the knee has been sore again so I think its better that he stays at the hostel!

petrohue and volcan orsorno
Posted by Hello

I'm glad to see that you got both my emails from Chonchi. The computer was an old 166 and kept hanging when I tried to send anything. I had a lovely few days there and went out to the National Park. No sundews but I discovered the Tepual forest which was very magical, mostly tepu trees which are very twisty with lots of moss and ferns.

I drove up the coast of Chiloe yesterday and through the Dalcahue Sunday market where the craftswomen were making and selling baskets and woolly things (jumpers hats scarves etc). Over to the mainland on the ferry I saw more penguins and pelicans.

The rain lashed down and I was very glad to arrive here in Puerto Varas and get into to a nice warm hostel. The Chileans don't seem so keen on heating so it was good to find somewhere with a fire on! This morning the sun is out and though I can't see the two volcanoes over the lake I think it will stay good for a few hours. I shall be back in Puerto varas with Mum, Dad and Dougal in a weeks time!

basket weaver, dalcahue market Posted by Hello

Friday, December 12, 2003

I have had a brilliant couple of days. Yesterday I went out to visit the penguin colony near Ancud. And although I couldn{t get out to the colony on a boat as the sea was too rough I could just see the tiny little magellanic and Humbolt penguins through my binos. I met up with 8 Israelis and have bumped into them several times now! Chiloe really is quite small. After the penguins I took a drive down the coast - the mar Brava the wild sea. Really quite specatcular.

Today I drove down to Chonchi - the road was being resurfaced and had my scariest drive in the mud behind a Shell tanker! Lots of mud and not much movement and strange noises from the wheels but it turned out just to be more mud in the arches! Phew!!! I{m staying at Esmerald by the sea, a wee hostelry owned by a Canadian. I have just had mussels and salmon from Carl{s farm for tea!! Fab! I will try to go over to the west coast tomorrow to visit the national park. I{m still keeping my eyes peeled for some sundews. Maybe there{ll be some in the Cordillera on the way across.

penguin colony, ancud Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Once more I find an internet cafe! I have just spent three days in the Puyehue national park. I found lots of good walks to do and even went swimming in the thermal pools! Loads of wildlife too - lots of humming birds. I now know what fuschias are really for! The little humming birds feed from them - though they´re like trees here!

I also managed to get chatted up by a ´military geologist´ (just a soldier to you and me!) in the termas and once he got to the "you have beautiful eyes" I made a swift exit explaining that I don´t drink beer and I wouldn´t like to see him later!!! Pleasant enough guy but we shan´t be going there!!!!!!

However, the weather hasn´t been great and there has been no spotting of volcanoes due to the persistent cloud. So I have come to Chiloe - an island south of the lake district as there is lots of wildlife and no volcanoes to see! The ferry ride alone was worth it - dolphins, huge seals, pelicans, penguins, cormorants and more! Just in 45min!! I shall go in hunt of more penguins tomorrow and have a drive along the coast before going futher south. The island was separated from the mainland by more than water for a long time so they have their own unique way of doing things here! Hope to stay for the rest of the week before heading back to the mainland.

parque national puyehue Posted by Hello