Number 30!

We just had earthquake number 30 since we moved to Chile.  We had just gotten back from a trip to the Lakes District and the northern part of Patagonia so it was like a welcome home tremor.  It was a small 5.0 tremor and Wooly slept through it.  Raeski didn’t.

We are now packing our bags for our return to the U.S. this Wednesday.  Living in Chile has been a great experience that we would do again if we had a chance to start all over.  Our latest trip like all the rest included things that made you say WOW!

We started in the Lakes district of Chile where volcanoes, active and dormant are almost everywhere you look.  Flying over Chile is amazing.  It’s just one volcano after another including the highest volcano in the world (Ojos del Salado – eyes of salt).  There are over 500 volcanoes in Chile, of which over 100 are considered active.  And you thought Chile was all about earthquakes.

We stayed in Frutillar on the edge of Lago Llanquihue (yawn key way) where Volcán Osorno dominates the landscape.  It is called the Mt. Fuji of South America due to its resemblance to Japan’s famous volcano.  Wooly has been fortunate to see both and agrees with the assessment.  Here’s some photos of the volcano.  What do you think?

There is a road that leads part way up the Osorno.  From there you can take a chair lift even higher.  At the end of the chair lift there is still another 1,000 meters elevation before the summit is reached (2,652 meters, 8701 feet).  Of course one must cross the glaciers to climb it.  Many climbers have lost their lives on the mountain.  But you’ll have to wait for that story another day.

The second part of our trip took us to the northern part of Patagonia.  From Puerto Montt we took a ferry to Puerto Chacabuco.  From there a transfer bus took us to Aysen.  We had a room reserved in Aysen for the evening but our ferry was 10 hours late and we arrived in the morning.  Since our hotel room was already paid for we stopped in for a 3 hour hotel stay.  (Neither Wooly or Raeski had ever done that before!)  Since the room was paid for we wanted a long hot shower and breakfast.  And we got it!

After our three hour stay (no, this isn’t a TV show) we climbed onto another bus and headed to Coyhaique (Coy I kay).  The ride was stunning as there seemed to be a waterfall around even bend in the road.  Sadly we were on a bus and couldn’t capture the beauty of the place.  It is definitely a place we would like to spend more time.

The next day we went to Cerro Castillo.  Again, amazing scenery that must be experienced to fully appreciate.  One interesting fact about the area is that the forest there is denser than the Amazon jungle.  So it really is an important global biological resource.  There are more photos to come in later but enjoy these two teasers.

Now back to packing…

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El Diario: 8 Enero 2015

We are getting close to wrapping up our year in Chile and coming home.  It’s been a great experience that we would both do again.  We’ve learned a lot about ourselves during this last year.  We’ve met some really great people and have been able to do and see some truly amazing places and things.

We’ve made friends who we will make an effort to stay in contact with and hopefully visit or have them visit us in the future.  Yesterday we were able to see some of the cadets that we taught English.  Yup, we’ll miss having that job.  Teaching English is a great way to meet people and learn what a country is really like.

Travel comes to mind first as we prepare to travel to the Lakes District of Chile tomorrow.  We’ve been to Easter Island on Easter, traveled throughout Peru, and just finished a spectacular trip in Patagonia last month.  Wooly is still working at processing photos because he had to switch to shooting in the RAW to save disk space.  Can’t wait to get home to purchase another photo drive and get the current one fixed.

The things we’ve encountered have been fun, at times, awe inspiring, and thought provoking.  One can’t look at a Moai without thinking about of the people who created them.  If you’ve never seen a large glacier up close you need to see one with the realization that they may be gone in the future if nothing is done about global warming.  Penguins are fun to watch in their natural habitat.

We’ve just had 3 tremors (earthquakes below 7.0) in the last two days.  I doubt we’ll miss them after having 29 since we’ve arrived.  Check out the earthquakes tab if you’re a science geek.

We’re looking forward to coming home and re-establishing our friendships but are sad to leave the friends we gained in the last year.

 

Out and About Chivay

In South American small towns invariably have a square in the middle.  Even in the most modest of towns the square is an important place.  There will be a church, some restaurants and streets radiating out from the square where commerce takes place.

The hat is very important in Peru.  Each region has distinctive hats.  In Chivay they take it to another level with hat sculptures.  They are irresistible  to children and sometimes accidents happen.  Some child may have spilled ice cream on the last hat.  The sculptures are designed so you can sit on them and rest weary legs and feet.

If you’ve had a tiring day you can always take a taxi.  However don’t look for the standard black taxi or collectivo here.  Each taxi owner personalizes their ‘cab’.  It’s quite the creative use of a motorcycle.

Chivay’s marketplace is quite orderly.  In Chivay each area of the marketplace has a purpose.  If you want groceries you go to one area and for other items you find the area where it’s being sold.

We also went on a hike outside of town that took us up on a hill that overlooked the town.  We highly recommend taking that walk.  The views are great at the edge of town.

Those views get even better outside of town.  And if you go you may even see someone walking to town with child in tow and their llama.  We really liked the bridge and appreciate the amount of work that must have gone into building it.

Chivay Surprise

I believe surprises can be placed in two categories – ones that are pleasant and ones that are not.  After the ride to Chivay there was still a lot of daylight left so we walked to the town square.  We knew the square is where all the action is found in small South American towns and Chivay is small.  On the way to the square we were pleasantly surprised.  The road to the square was lined with statues of folklore characters.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Torres del Paine’s Andean Condors

We knew the Andean Condor could be spotted at the tip of South America but we never expected to see them up close while hiking in Torres del Paine (TDP).  When TDP went on the bucket list we didn’t even know the condors were down there.  When we learned they were there we ‘hoped’ we would see one or two.

This wasn’t our first encounter with the Andean Condor but we think this one’s the best.  It happened in the wild.  In Peru we went to Colca Canyon and saw about 50.  This made us think that someone must be tossing dead animals over the cliffs of the canyon to keep the birds all bunched up there.  Here in TDP we only saw them in pairs flying many miles apart from each other.

But anyway, it was on our second day in the park when we saw them – first at a distance and further up the trail.  We kept our eyes peeled for them and Wooly had his camera ready as we hiked.  The spectacular moment happened just after we reached the high point on the trail and got settled in for lunch.

Soon we heard some people up on the hill cry out so we knew what was about to happen.  Wooly was able to turn around and snap off three shots as the condor closed in on us.  The condor had his eye on us as he flew directly over – no more than 20 feet (3 meters).  Then Wooly spun around and got the final shot.  Of the four pictures three turned out well. 

And with that we finished our lunch with Wooly hoping the pictures turned out okay.  Now it’s your turn to enjoy the experience.

No Ordinary Beagle

Nope, we’re not talking about Snoopy or that breed of dog.  We’re not talking about the ship Darwin made famous either.  Well, maybe a little.  The Beagle Channel is actually named after the ship Darwin sailed in.  But it had a history before Darwin’s voyage started in 1831.

The Beagle Channel was named after the HMS Beagle during the ship’s first hydrographic survey of the channel.  During that voyage the ship’s captain committed suicide and Captain Robert FitzRoy took the helm and finished the survey.

The channel itself is a challenge to navigate and the only way a large ship can pass through its waters is with a Chilean captain at the helm.  Even then accidents still happen due to rapidly changing conditions.  There are a couple of sayings in Patagonia which allude to how rapidly the weather can change.  You can experience all four seasons in one day and if you don’t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes.

We ventured out twice on the channel on the same day.  In the morning the wind blew, it rained and heavy swells tossed the ship about.  Anyone who was brave enough to leave the warm cozy confines of the cabin would have surely been soaked from the waves breaking over the bow.  We weren’t completely certain we were going to go on the afternoon cruise.

However we decided to test the 15 minute saying and sure enough, we got the summer season that afternoon.  The Beagle Channel went from waves breaking over the bow of the ship to being as smooth as glass.  It was simply amazing.  As a result of our bravery (foolhardiness?) we were rewarded with two fantastic experiences in one day.

You’ve already enjoyed the penguins photos from an earlier post – now you get to see the Beagle Channel in all its glory.  Majestic snowcapped mountains flank each side of the channel.  On the trip we saw cormorants (a penguin cousin that can still fly) and sea lions.  We also cruised by Puerto Williams, the southernmost town in the world and a rusting wreck of a ship that ran aground.

Happy New Year

In Chile there is only one place to be on New Year’s Eve if you like fuego artificiales (fireworks) and that place is Viña del Mar which just happens to be where we live.  Last night we were fortunate to be invited by friends to their apartment which has a great view of the bay.  From our vantage point we could see fireworks from six of the nine barges set up in the bay.  Thank you Marilynn and Leonard we were able to avoid having to mingle with over a half a million people lining the beaches from Valparaiso to Con Con.

Enjoy the show.