Rich managed to sleep through last night’s storm whilst I cowered beneath the duvet waiting for the windows to cave in! Welcome to Patagonia. Not surprisingly Amory and Uslar aren’t letting anyone go kayaking today as the weather is bad even by Chilote standards and a storm warning was issued in the early hours. It doesn’t seem to deter the birds though and on the short walk from the cabin to the dining area we see parakeets and a bright yellow bird that I still don’t know the name of. Apparently there are also black necked swans nesting close by.
After a leisurely breakfast we set off in the torrential rain for Queilen. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Chepu Adventures but it’s a little over-priced for paying for the privilege of not having long showers, of not having access to a reasonably well equipped self catering kitchen, and not being allowed to do your washing. We weren’t brave enough to ignore the warning signs like we had at Adele y Helmut! If the communal area was a bit cosier, and there was an eco-friendly laundry provided it might appeal to the less affluent who don’t want to, or simply can’t afford to ‘buy’ themselves a green badge.
We decide to stop off in Castro to buy fuel and groceries, thinking that it would be a small town where we would simply park by the picturesque palafitos (houses on stilts above the water), take some pics, and stroll to the nearest supermarket. Instead, as the capital of Chiloe it’s one of the busiest places Dervla has taken us through yet, and the underground Unimarc car park feels like it’s the smallest in the world. There are no free spaces but I’m so desperate for the loo that I have to jump out and leave Rich to park up. Unfortunately there are no toilets upstairs in the supermarket either, and close to tears I have to walk as quickly as possible to the bus station and use a toilet in one of the cafes there. I’d have paid far more for the privilege than 300 pesos, and almost hugged the proprietor. We did manage to see the palafitos on the way into and out of town thanks to road-works but they didn’t look quite so pretty in the rain, and we both just wanted to escape the madness of the city. Rich, having traveled to central America felt that Castro was much more like a Mexican city than those we’ve visited in Chile so far, but at least I know that I can cope with heavy traffic, even if it does freak me out a little! I’m a country girl at heart and like my quiet, wild spaces rather than towns, cities and shops. As for department stores, don’t get me started – they give me the chills.
Pumuhuen Complejo Turistico is the real rustic deal. Again reaching it required a bit of effort as it’s off the beaten track and we have to leave the car at the top of the wooded hill and scramble down with our bags, but this feels like the authentic Chiloe. Roberto doesn’t speak any English but makes himself understood through mime and basic Spanish and quickly sorts out the fault with the gas stove so that we can settle in. The four dogs and cats also help to make us feel very welcome and make themselves cosy on the veranda, attempting to either jump or sit on us whenever we step outside. The cabin (called Pincoya) has such a lovely feel about it and quickly becomes our favourite of the trip thus far. That it’s ridiculously cheap also helps, given that the sea views are stunning, it’s very well equipped, and with the wood burning stove chugging away it makes the perfect retreat. Not even the heavy rain can spoil this. We while away the remainder of the afternoon washing pants (Rich’s turn – I did all the driving!), preparing dinner, and playing with the cats and dogs – they’ve very snuggly, and one of the cats in particular ignores the fact that Rich is allergic to fluffy things, insisting that he be allowed to bed down on his lap for a wee while.
This, for us, is what traveling is all about. This is what makes us happy. We happily forgo nights out and shopping trips back home because it means we can afford to travel to places like this, and experience the hospitality and kindness of people like Roberto and his wife Andrea, and their family of creatures. We dine on fried potatoes, garlic mushrooms, tomato sauce and steak (we think it’s beef, but it could well be vicuna, a type of llama!) and by 9pm we’re standing on the veranda watching the tide come in. We have to struggle with the cats to keep them outside and they mew pitifully from the windowsills, but after a while all is quiet, save for the pitter patter of the raindrops.