First let me put to bed a particular myth about Chilenos. I read over and over how the people of Chile are not as nice as the people of Argentina, Uruguay and such. This is a falsehood. They are just as warm and friendly, not necessarily as effusive, and therefore I believe, more sincere. I have met many wonderfully warm people and been invited into homes, to dinner and even to join a family reunion. The only place where I have encountered any people I would consider fridged was Chiloe’ island. The land is beautiful with an incredible Pacific coastline. Just don´t expect much from the people.
Speaking of Chiloe’, I got the bright idea to walk from Quellon to Castro, I went about 40 – 50 km in two days and camped one night before I wanted off the island bad enough to catch a bus to Castro, spend the night then get a bus to Puerto Montt the next day. Along the way, I caught a brief ride in the back of a pickup with four sheep. What I knew and the sheep did not, was that they were on their way to being slaughtered. It is a surreal experience to be bouncing along your head and arms resting on a sheep who is about to be carne. Here they are, sedate, thinking what a nice ride we are having in the countryside, oh look, new people. Then, bamb!! I was secretly hoping that the men I was with only intended to wack the sheep and not the gringo too.
So, after getting off Chiloe’ I made my way to Puerto Varas, then to the national park to the east, I would butcher the name so just know that it encompases Lago Todos Los Santos. After spending the evening there and hanging out with a German guy and girl university age, a German guy who is about 60 and gets paid to give presentations on his travels, and a Dutch guy who is the friend of the first German guy, I headed back to Villarrica. Interesting side note, the young German and Dutch guys have know each other for years and traveled together many times. Neither speaks the other´s language, they converse totally in English. This is something I was not aware of before, that English is important not just for communication between native and non-native speakers, but is often used as an intermediate language between two non-native English speakers.
Ancud is on the Northern Pacific coast but is a little East of being directly on the coast. This is a major turist stop. From here you can horse riding and take a day trip to the National Park a little south. Also, you can go see a penguin preserve. I did this while I was there. Nothing special, but worth the 15 dollars. Upon arriving we were given about 20 minutes to walk around on the beach. There is still a small fishing village here that is in operation. When we arrived the fishermen were getting the days catch from the nets. As they collect crab, this included a common crab and king crabs. When the crabs spider in the net, it is impossible to bring them out whole, so as the net is dragged over edge of the boat once onshore, the men club the crab into bits, making sure to leave the meaty claws intact. The claws can then be removed and the nets washed clean of the remnants of shell and guts. I saw several people buying whole crabs right out of the boats. The crab go for about 10000 pesos a kilogram here and almost 10 times that in Santiago. One of the beaches we stopped at to take pictures on the way, is one of the most incredible beaches I have ever seen, with an awesome break that goes for 300 meters from the beach. However, no one was swimming of surfing here. Upon further discussion with the guide, he informed me that the undertow is so strong that swimming and surfing are strictly forbidden and to do so is certain suicide.
Almost halfway down on the inland side of the island is Quellon. This is your typical fishing village, think Groton RI 50 years ago. This town has three things going for it. Bars, fishermen and brothels. So unless you are into one of these, there is not really much for you to do there. I only spent the night – alone.