Oh, the places I’ve been

This is part of a group blog originating over at Don’t Call Me Gringa.

A favorite question that Chileans like to ask me is, “Have you traveled outside of Santiago?”  They are usually quite surprised when I start to list off the names of the places I’ve been.

As I was reading Emily’s post I kept thinking, “I’ve been there! I’ve been there!” so I’ll try not to bore you all with the same travel stories, but there might be some overlap.

First on my list is Pucon. My host sister had her civil wedding ceremony there in mid-February 2007, about a month and a half after I arrived in Chile. Pucon is known as the adventure-sports capital of Chile. You can climb Volcan Villarica, go white-water rafting, go hiking, horseback riding, and or canopying. However, I did none of that. After two weeks carousing through Bolivia and Peru with my study abroad mates, I was ready for a few days of pure relaxation. How can you not relax when this landscape surrounds you?

I also ate goat for the first time in my life and have to admit that it was pretty delicious.

After Pucon, I met two friends in Puerto Varas and we headed off to Chiloe. Chiloe is a large island off the coast of Chile, known for being a mysterious place full of witchcraft. It’s also famous for it’s wooden churches built by the Jesuits during the 17th and 18th centuries and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Chiloe reminded me a lot of Vermont, but with a coastline. It was very green, and had lots of cows and rolling hills. Our first stop was Quemchi, a miniscule town on the coast somewhere between Ancud (the first city you encounter after getting off the ferry) and Castro, the largest city on the island. We were dropped off in the middle of the highway and then flagged down a little micro that took us to Quemchi. Right now I don’t remember exactly why we went to Quemchi, because there was nothing in Quemchi except an internet cafe, a restaurant and a pretty nice hostel. Oh, and some boats.

We ate empanadas at the restaurant and made friends with the owner who had us sign his book. Six months later, a different group of travelers from the same program went to the same restaurant and found our entry. Small world!

After that, we spent a few days in Castro, with a day trip to Dalcaue and Achao. We ate some of the best seafood I’ve had in my life, toured the many artisan markets, went on a boat tour of the bay to see the palafitos and even went to Mass at the church in Castro.

The palafitos (or houses built on sticks) used to be all over the island of Chiloe, but most were destroyed during the giant earthquake/tsunami of 1962. The ones in Castro are the only ones that remain.

During the rest of my study abroad time in Chile I visited San Pedro de Atacama, Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, Pomaire and Mina Teniente/Sewell (near Rancagua). Since returning to Chile in January, I’ve been to La Serena and Valle del Elqui, Curico and Siete Tazas National Park, and Chimbarongo. I also went back to Viña/Valpo and Pomaire when my Mom and sister visited.

Here are some pictures of Serena and Siete Tazas, because in the linked posts I didn’t put up any pictures.

D. and F. relaxing on the beach in La Serena

The Elqui Valley, home to Gabriela Mistral, UFOs, Observatories, Pisco and Papayas

Hitch-hiking to Siete Tazas
Three of the seven “tea-cups”
Now, the places I want to visit in Chile are: Valdivia, Puerto Varas and Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Hopefully I’ll make it there soon!

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