Sunday, October 3rd; Lake District, Southern Chile
Took a Sunday drive to Curarrehue, at the end of the paved road. (Another 30 km of gravel road will get you to the border of Argentina.) We turned back to Lago Caburgua and stopped for lunch at Ojos de Caburgua (Eyes of the Devil).
Monday, October 4th; Villarica to Valdivia
Retracing our route back to Villarica, we turned south to Lican Ray and Conaripe, along the northern shore of Lago Calafquen. The road to Liquine turned to gravel so we cancelled our plan to continue. Instead of bactracking again, we took the gravel road along the south shore to Panguipulli and Los Lagos.
Always asking for a discount from the posted "Rack Rates", Hotel Melillanca in Valdivia offered to cut their rate from $70.00 to $68.00. We were to tired to start searching for a hotel with a better attitude, so we took it. At least we were close enough to walk to dinner at Casa de Luna, a floating restaurant on the river.
Tuesday, October 5th
Our excursion to Fort Niebla, protecting the harbor entrance at Valdivia, cost us a base-ball sized set of circular cracks in the front windshield as a large rock came flying off a passing truck and bounced off. Had it not started to spread from behind the rear-view mirror, it would not have been noticed from the driver's seat.
The city of Frutillar, which you find when you leave the freeway, it actually Alto Frutillar. What you really want is Bajo Frutillar, but there are no signs to get you from one to the other. Puerto Octay is where you end up if you search for the missing Frutillar along the wrong road. In the end, both Frutillars and Puerto Octay were a waste of time.
Elsa had taken some pictures of cows along the way, so I stopped at the side of the road where a large number were grazing to get another shot. The lead cow saw the car stop and started trotting toward us. All of the others joined the parade, pushing and tripping over each other to get to the fence first, each bellowing at the top of its lungs. We drove off, mystified by their behavior.
In Puerto Montt at last, Hotel Viento Sur has a breakfast that's not to be missed according to our guide-book. Another ham and cheese delight, as far as I could tell.
We booked Bariloche on Lan Chile for the 10th and Chacaburo, via the San Rafael glacier on Navimag for the 16th, giving us a few days to loaf around.
Wednesday, October 6th; Puerto Montt to Castro, Isla Chiloe
We lunched in Ancud at the combined fish market (first floor) and Artisans Market (second floor). The place was packed; seating was "family style," where one sits in an empty space and joins whoever is already at the table. Nobody joined the two of us at our table for four, however, as we were clearly aliens from another planet.
Hosteria de Castro Hotel is an interesting A-frame building with rooms separated by a glass band that runs up and down the middle over the central stairway. A flock of large Banduria birds (Tan-throated Ibis) have taken over a tree just outside the glass and squawk at each other endlessly.
Thursday, October 7th
Partly cloudy skies at Castro gave way to steady drizzle as we headed south.
The Pan American Highway ends, unceremoniously, at Quellon, a small fishing village on the southern shore of Isla Chiloe. We ate lunch at one of the two places in town, the Restaurant Los Suizos, having really tasty fish soup in front of the wood-burning fireplace, in which the waitress threw paper trash to supplement the wood supply or break up an otherwise dull day.
Friday, October 8th
Unable to contain our excitement at watching the grass grow, we left Chiloe for Puerto Varas, 15 km north of Puerto Montt. We found a pleasant little city nestled along the shore of Lago Llanquihue. During lunch at the Club de Yates, we introduced ourselves to some English-speaking men at the next table. One was from Colorado and was about to move into a house he had just completed building a few miles away. Another, Claudio, invited us to visit his house in the same neighborhood. Hotel Licanray, across the street from the lake, afforded us a brilliant double rainbow as the sun peeked out from under the rain clouds just before sunset.
Saturday, Ocober 9th
Drove to Lago Todos Las Santos in the morning, under partly cloudy skies.
Claudio picked us up at our hotel and gave us a neighborhood real estate tour and a tour of his home, directly on the shore of Lago Llanquihue, with a killer view of Volcan Osorno. We ended up having dinner with his wife, Rosanna, his brother, Sergio, and his brother's wife, Yolanda. We solved many of the world's problems over cake and coffee that evening.