I arrived at the station planning on going to Argentina. The bus man stared at me blankly as I attempted to buy a ticket with my usual Spanish spiel. Before I knew it I was on a bus (on a boat) en route to the Island of Chiloe, not Argentina. I had never even heard of Chiloe. It’s a large Island off Chile and really reminds me of Ireland with its green rolling hills and coastal towns. It’s one of the most chilled out places I’ve been to with practically no tourists here, in fact there are hardly any people here at all. Most backpackers bypass this beautiful destination because it difficult to navigate around the Island without a car. Hitchhiking is a must here!
I hoped off the island in a place called Ancud. I checked into the first hostel I could find after about 1 hour of walking in blistering heat. Excellent hostel (13 Lunas hostel, Ancud). The beds were top drawer. Ancud is famous for penguins with the Magallanes and Humbolt penguin living here. The following day I rented a bike and cycled out to Puñihuil to see them. You could take a tour bus but i’m allergic to them at this stage. I underestimated the 60km cycle. The bike was ready for the bin and the tyres were as flat as pancakes. I had a pump, but in my experience pumping wheels I generally let all the air out so opted against it. I went along with the dodgy tyres. The pain was worth it for the incredible panoramic views of the coast. When I arrived, I hoped onto a boat (the tour was Spanish speaking only) I managed to get the gist of it but was in my element just watching the penguins pottering about.
Dreading the trek home, with no restaurants en route. I stopped off at a church (the only building open) and told the priest I was hungry (tengo mucha ambray). He randomly sold me a prawn empanada and a warm/dusty beer, a beautiful combo. Now that’s the kind of church I would happily attend every Sunday. He saved me big time and the cycle home was so much more manageable!
With so much to see on the Island I decided to make tracks and took a bus to Castro. Maka, my trumpet friend put me in contact with a friend of hers who lives just outside Castro. I ended up staying with Lorena and her girlfriend Kaaje for 4 days. They live in the most idyllic place with amazing views of the island. Trying to find the house was less than idyllic. I was given the instructions to get a taxi; 4,000$ or a bus; 350$. Bus it was! The instructions were to look out for a green house made out of plastic. Quite strange but sure it’s Chile so anything goes. After hours of trying to find a house made out of green plastic I started asking randomers but to no avail. Literally drenched in sweat and getting desperate I ended up asking 5 different houses did they know Lorena showing every passer by her photo. The delirium was getting to me. Afters hours of trekking up and down the mountains with my 4 backpacks a random man pointed me in the right direction.
It turns out they live in a normal house they just have a green house (for vegetables!!!). It was such a treat having my own double bed and private bathroom and some much needed laundry! Absolute heaven.
I ventured to Chiloe National Park where I met a lovely Peruvian girl, Meriza and Swiss guy, Stefan. We were literally the only ones in the park. Crazy! Stefan was hard core and ended up sleeping on the beach (no tent /no food/no water). He ended up leaving his passport and all of his money somewhere on the beach and we went exploring for hours and we all feel asleep. We eventually made our way back and luckily Stefan’s goods intact. An awful ejet but I most likely would have done the same thing. Myself and Meriza obviously missed the last bus home but experts at this stage managed to hitchhike off a grumpy old man.
The food in Chile has been fairly bleak to say the least. I’ve been on the coast for weeks now but it’s actually really hard to find good seafood. They are big fans of deep fat frying everything and are hot dog obsessed. A specialty here is completo: A hot dog laced with mayonnaise, guac and ketchup. I haven’t actually tasted one but they look pretty violent. The three things I’m missing most are good coffee (Brian you’d be proud I’ve been drinking minging instant coffee on a daily basis), dark chocolate ( a sub average bar of chocolate here is the same price as wine, wine will win any day of the week) and cheese (the cheese here is more of a texture as opposed to a taste really awful shit). What I would give for one of Úna’s mince pies with freshly whipped cream and an Irish coffee and mulled wine.
So because the food is bad and overpriced I have been cooking most meals in the hostels. In fairness to Chile they do excellent avocados (paltas). I have them pretty much every day. To thank Lorena and Kaaje I offered to prepare a meal for them. With the days jam packed my only option was to cook the meal in the middle of the night, not a problem with my insomnia issues. The menu was Rice ( leftovers from phone recovery operation) and mango chicken (inspired by Senong) and apple crumble for dessert (rotten apples were on discount). The meal was edible helped massively by the two bottles of wine.
From Castro I took a day trip to beautiful Dalcahue. From there I hoped on a ferry to go explore some of the nearby islands. Once again completely deserted. Where are all the people? I did a stunning coastal walk which stretched for miles and I had it all to myself. I was looking forward to some seafood on the island but everywhere was closed so I settled for a stale cornetto.
Gorgeous few chilled out days in Chiloe but am looking forward to seeing some humans again. Travelling down south towards Patagonia is not straightforward, not cheap and extremely confusing. I considered getting the Navimag which is a popular ferry that takes you from Puerto Montt to Puerto Nalates in 3 nights and 4 days (covering almost 2,000 km). Its’ over 400$. I’ve opted against the Navimag and am planning on DIY (ing) it.
I left Chiloe island by taking the ferry at 3.00am (obviously I thought this was 3.00pm). This left me with plenty of time to kill. After a few too many vinos I stumbled onto the ferry. The party soon ended. The ferry itself felt like Antarctica, absolutely baltic. I forgot to wear clothes. I would have paid someone good money for their blankie. I just kept eating peanuts to try and warm up (didn’t work and now I just hate peanuts). I identified at least 10 different culprits of snorers (Snorla & Storm Cian you have serious competition). An appropriate soundtrack for a torture chamber. Absolutely abysmal. I was blaring Eminem to try and drown out the snores until my earphones also had enough and kicked the bucket (I don’t blame them). I desperately found 1 earplug on the floor which I had no choice but to use. A grim first experience on the ferry. I will be better equipped next time with surround sound, wine, food, multiple ear plugs, whiskey and more wine!