Thursday, December 28, 2006

Puerto Montt to Cucao

Our travels today took us to the island of Chiloe. We drove a short distance south of Puerto Montt and then took a half hour ferry ride to the island. The ferries here are relatively small (ours held seven cars, three trucks and two buses) but very frequent (perhaps 10 minutes apart). Erik and I saw a penguin and some pelicans as we crossed.

We stopped for lunch in a little fishing town on the north end of the island called Ancud and ordered the chef's special. What we got was a massive, delicious, flaming plate of a wide range of shellfish, fish and chorizo. There was even something I had never seen before. It was a small red ball, similar in size and appearance to a cherry tomato, but with two little purple nipples. It looked like a tiny little alien. I can't describe the taste because it wouldn't break apart when I chewed. It was like a tiny little red rubber ball. Had there been only one, I might have actually thought it was not food, but there were probably a dozen on the plate, so Erik and I had ample opportunity experiment with them and ensure this mix of the catch of the day wasn't coincidentally from a place by the rubber ball factory.

After lunch, we drove out to Punihuil to look at some Penguin colonies that inhabit the area. There is a nonprofit German organization called Fundacion Otway that promotes the preservation of the penguin habitats in the area. The drive out was awesome; following a dirt road through some small family farming area with great views of the coast. When we arrived, they told us that the sea was too rough to take people out but there might be other 'independent' operators on the beach that would do it. It didn't appear as though anyone else was going out either, so we grabbed a coffee at the Otway office and watched an instructional movie on penguins. You could tell the video was produced by Germans. It was orderly, factual, informative and efficient, not wasting any time on useless qualitative description.
We walked down to the beach one last time to snap a picture and were approached by a stranger asking if we wanted a tour. Sweet. We watched as he and his buddies positioned their boat for launch. It took several attempts, but at last they got the motor started. Our tour lasted about 15 minutes, which was enough time to see a handful of penguin colonies, some sea otters, and a variety of ocean birds. It was also enough time to have the engine quit twice. But it was well worth it. I was really glad to have been able to get the tour.
We then drove south toward the national park with the intent to camp in the park. Single lanes, dirt road, construction, and an underestimation of the distance resulted in a later than expected arrival - about 9:30pm. We ultimately picked a camping spot outside the park that was less wet and muddy and so that we could get firewood and have hot showers in the morning. No plans yet for tomorrow, but if its clear and Erik's legs cooperate, I'd like to try a hike. It looks like there are some good spots around here, but it started raining when we got in the tent, so we will have to play it by ear.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home