Penguins, a girl feeding pigeons in Arequipa, Wooly and Raeski in Lima, llamas in San Pedro de Atacama, and a young mountain goat sticking close to mom in Rocky Mountain Natl. Park.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
There haven’t been many updates recently and that’s because Wooly has been lazy. However we have been wrapping up the school year and have completed our contract.
While we’ve been here we have checked off a couple of bucket list destinations – Easter Island and Machu Picchu. Tomorrow we are traveling to another bucket list destination. We are headed to Torres del Paine.
Along the way we will also tour Terra del Fuego, visit the southern most city in the world and the southern most continental city in the world. Hopefully the penguins will cooperate and we’ll see a lot them while we’re down south.
We will be back in home just before Christmas. Then we hope to get in a trip to the Lakes District of Chile before returning to the U.S. in January. Happly holidays and safe travels everyone.
A while back Raeski and I went with some friends to Zapallar. (Pronounced Sap -pie-yar) Being a little over an hour’s drive from our home it’s a great day trip. Zapallar is a small town of around 2,000 people. Since it was winter it wasn’t crowded.
While we were there, we were treated to a colorful sunset. Looking at the photos certainly brings back memories of a great day. I hope you enjoy the pictures.
A little over an hour inland from Viña del Mar is La Campana Nacional Parque. La Mina, an old quartz mine is one of the attractions in the park and was what drew us and a few of our fellow teaching comrades to tackle the five kilometer hike.
When you don’t own a car in Chile the adventure before the adventure begins with transportation. As you know from a previous post, when you step on a bus you hope the driver isn’t the ‘wild-eyed‘ variety. (woolyandraeski.com/2014/06/01/a-long-humorous-lesson-about-public-transportation-in-chile/). Today we were spared that indignity but the transportation adventure has a second part.
After escaping the bus with our lives our destination was still several kilometers away. In Chile the next phase of the adventure is surviving a ‘colectivo’ taking you to your destination. A colectivo is a sort of taxi that whisks you to your destination at a dangerously high rate of speed. A colectivo gets its name from the way they ‘collect’ their victims. The driver keeps stopping and picking up new victims until his colectivo is full. Then the driver is happy and continues the adventure at a breakneck pace to your destination. In our case we filled two colectivos and the happy drivers raced each other up the mountain to La Campana.
Having safely arrived at the park we were ready to stretch our legs and enjoy our hike. It was a gorgeous 70°F/25°C degree mid-winter day. So up the hill we went. And up, and up, and up… Soon we were thinking “Where’s the down or level where you get to rest a bit while walking?” The trail ended up being almost all uphill to the destination.
After several hours of ascent and a few breathing breaks we reached the mine and stopped for lunch. While eating lunch we enjoyed a peek-a-boo view of the snow covered Cordillera de Los Andes. (Andes Mountains) Having learned our lesson about overdoing it (woolyandraeski.com/2014/03/30/pass-the-salt/) we chose to relax while our much younger comrades pushed on to climb the rest of the 1.8 kilometer hike which was steeper, rockier and more exhausting.
We started our descent at a more leisurely pace and were delighted to share our path with a fox along the way. And down we went. And down, and down, and down… Remember wanting that rest on the way up? Now those little used downhill muscles were starting to protest their overuse. I guess even leisurely can be overdone when you are tired.
After our exhausting day we all wanted to sleep on the metro (train) ride home. From the next day’s perspective we can assure you we made the right decision to take time to relax and not push beyond our limits. And we think we gave our younger teaching comrades something to aspire to in 30 years.