We are soooooo ready for a long walk or kayak after a few days spent largely driving. I take my hat off to those who drive long distances for a living. Although neither of us would say no to a stint as an Ice Road Trucker. And yes we’ve already decided what our nicknames would be because of course we’d appear on the telly programme. Rich would be The Arctic Fox and I would be The Celtic Dragon!
Today we’re heading for the island of Chiloe, the second largest island in Chile. This will be as far south as we get on this trip but at least we’ll have managed to visit northern Patagonia and dunk ourselves in the Pacific. I get an ‘OMG!’ moment on the ferry whilst drinking some pop and realising that there are penguins swimming alongside us. This is the first time I’ve seen any in the wild. Apparently you can often see dolphins on the ferry route too. It’s easy to see why lots of Welsh people settled in Patagonia because the first thing we notice on landing is the amount of gorse. That it’s misty and drizzling lends itself to the similarity. This is just like South Wales.
Our spacious cabana at Chepu Adventures directly overlooks the river and the forest killed by the 1960 tsunami. The land and riverscape is beautiful, but eery. As an ecolodge there’s a very clear message about how little water you’re expected to use, and how you’re supposed to behave whilst on site, but there’s no way of keeping food cool for those who are self catering, and very little storage space. Whilst we’d planned to order dinner in-house tonight anyhow, it somehow feels as if those who don’t want to spend quite so much money, or genuinely like cooking, are being penalised a little, especially when it’s by no means the cheapest place we’ll be staying at on this trip. The view from the cabana balcony is special though, and the organic pork and risotto served at dinner very tasty and interesting in that it’s the first time we’ve been presented with a fuschia flower salad. Amory and Uslar, the founders of Chepu Adventures are like us a little in that they’re quite quiet when you first meet them, but gradually open up, and become more talkative as they learn to trust us. And then of course there’s Compostine the cat. She really will eat anything but is a very affectionate ball of fur and I have to stop myself trying to sneak her into our cabin for cuddles.
We um and ah about signing up for the Kayak at Dawn experience the following day, but decide that with Rich’s balance issues getting ready by a river in the dark would not be sensible, so we’ll rent kayaks for a few hours after breakfast instead. That this means we also get a lie in does not of course come into the equation. As evening descends we stand out on the balcony (we’re wearing thermals by this point, so it’s too cold to sit out) and watch the shadows dance on the water. It’s somehow more beautiful as the light fades, but I still can’t shake that eery feeling. I wonder if that’s because the earthquake and tsunami killed so many people and caused a lot of damage, as well as creating landscapes such as this? Tis a pain in the butt being such a sensitive soul sometimes, but then it has its good points.
After a few games of Connect-4 (travel sized and definitely an essential item) before bed the conversation again steers towards future trips and how we’ll plan them. The consensus is that 4 weeks at a time suits us both as we’re worried about ‘fragmenting’ if we stayed away any longer. We’re also losing weight. I can spare a few pounds but Rich certainly can’t, and 4 weeks weight loss would be reparable quickly with copious amounts of rice pudding and banana cake.