I pushed the boat out today and breakfasted on three slices of gluten free toast with lots of home made jam, followed by as much German garlic sausage as we could fit on our plates . The dining area was very hot and I started to feel a bit faint (I have POTS and the meds struggle to work when they’ve gotten a bit warm, so I wasn’t being a complete wuss) but when I tried to open the door Helmut muttered something about mosquitoes and closed it quickly. So much for guest comfort. His house his rules I suppose.
Lunch was a plate of chips each courtesy of Copec, and Ruta 5 presented the usual array of walkers, dogs and bicycles for the 4 hour journey to the enchanting Zapato Amarillo. This small hotel is tellytubby house heaven. Run by the quiet but very friendly Nadia (Chilean) and Armin (Swiss) and located in the picturesque town of Puerto Octay, it features several wooden chalets with turf roofs, and each one has a wood burning stove. It’s definitely feeling more like Spring than Summer when we arrive and with the non-stop rain showers we’re grateful for the fire, and four duvets on the bed. Our room feels like a giant Swiss tree house. It’s made entirely from wood, has a gorgeous high ceiling, and faces luscious fields complete with buff-necked ibis hunting for grubs. After a quick snooze we brave the rain and head for a local beach on Lake Llanquihue – Playa Maiten. Despite being one of the largest lakes in Chile and it being wet and windy today the water is like a millpond and we enjoy strolling along the volcanic sands.
To pass the time before dinner we start making a list of other countries we’d like to visit – Argentina and Uruguay come out at the top of the list for South America, Alaska in the North, and maybe a few states in between. I think Rich would like to do a ‘Man V Food’ tour of the US. But that would make me very sick, and very fat. We also talk about the real poverty which we’ve seen. Not the situation where people cite themselves as poor but are able to afford the latest gadgets and cable telly subscriptions. Here we’ve seen houses which are smaller than some garden sheds in the UK, there doesn’t seem to be that obsession with fashion – clothes are clothes, and food is made to go a lot further. We also find ourselves thinking a lot about the treatment of indigenous South Americans by immigrant populations. It makes us sad that so many were killed by war and disease and we wonder how they genuinely feel to this day about incomers?
Dinner was an extremely sociable event where the wine and conversation flowed. We shared the table with a hilarious couple from California, and a very interesting couple of medics from Holland. We all tucked in to roast chicken, gorgonzola stuffed tomatoes, potato gratin and salad, and shared travel tales. The medics had spent a lot of time in war zones and were having a well earned breather for a few months, and the Californian couple had decided to spend the rest of their lives traveling having also experienced life threatening illness in recent years. Topics ranged from Mitt Romney (general consensus = he’s an arse) to brain surgery to how long honeymoon periods last. It was a real pleasure speaking to like minded people as we’ve struggled to find such souls in our home town. Maybe we’re just looking in the wrong places?
By 11pm the wind is howling and we all say our goodbyes. I’d forgotten to bring a torch over to the dining room so we have an interesting few minutes trying to find our way back to the cabin in the dark, what with trying to stop Rich falling over (not through drink), but we soon reach the safety of the four duvets and wood burner. Who knew that staring at stoves could be so therapeutic.