Friday, March 20, 2009

chi chi chi le le le.......Puerto Varas

We arrived in Puerto Varas (Chile!) shortly after dozens of buses from a Norwegian cruise line. Passengers from the cruise were off to descend upon and devour every morsel of food with an ñ in the name and T-shirt with the word "Patagonia" on it in the whole city. They were also aggravatingly crowding all of the information offices where we needed to get to find out about camping and climbing guides. We ask one of the cruisers when they are departing, and we only have 45 minutes to go. Not too bad, so we decide to wait it out in the grass in the plaza with a few empanadas. There is a guy playing Celine Dion covers on panpipes at the center of the plaza, and he definitely knows his audience. The somewhat grumpy, overgrown cruisers are eating it up...the guy is getting so much action, he can´t make it through 30 seconds of "My Heart Will Go On" without being interrupted for a picture or for someone buying his music. Good for him.

The clock strikes 5 pm and food wrappers, instead of glass slippers, are left blowing in the wind as the hordes return hastily to their buses and boat. We search around for an information office that knows anything about something other than high priced hotels and restaurants. We find out that CONAF (Chile´s national park service), has closed Volcan Osorno to climbing for the rest of the summer due to the condition of the glacier. We do, however, book a rafting trip at the base of the volcano and find the only camping in the city, so it´s not a total loss.

View of Osorno from Puerto Varas.

From Bariloche, Puerto Varas

The camping was at a great hostel with the best vibes and friendliest host we have had so far this trip, and we showed up just in time for a bit of dinner. We sit down at the table to a communal dinner of shepherd´s pie. The tables are decorated with green, white, and orange tablecloths. U2 and Sinead O´Connor play in the background. The friendly Irishman at the end of the table is wrapped in his country´s flag and holding a gnome dressed in green. He is talking about parades, the cruelty of the English throughout history, and of beer. It´s the beginning of our Chilean St Patrick´s day celebration.

After a few boxes of Clos/El Gato/other cheap wine, and after concocting rather interesting after-drinking snacks (who knew butter, aji, and mayo mixed together is great on pringles?), our band of multicountry hostellers head out to find a bar in Puerto Varas to celebrate with a Guiness. We parade down the road with the flag, dancing newly taught leg-only dances, and make our way to the bar. Surprisingly, there is an Irish pub in Puerto Varas. Not surprisingly, the Irish pub doesn´t serve Guiness, is decorated with Mexican Sombreros, has a local punk rock band playing Nirvana, and decidedly was not celebrating St. Patrick´s day. We settle for pisco sours, as they are kind of green. Conversations between Irish, American, Israeli, and British companions become way more interesting in Spanish after a few drinks. The Irish guy talks up the owner and locals in the bar, and trades his Irish flag for the Chilean flag hanging on the bar wall. Now the bar is more Irish than it was before...a mark was made. We walk home, and sleep well.

A cosmopolitan group of mascots: Shammy the irish submissive, Goldie the goat, and Dr. Derry the futbol playing gnome

From Bariloche, Puerto Varas

The host of our hostel, Gonzalo, reinforcing stereotypes.

From Bariloche, Puerto Varas

The next day was filled with rafting the Petrohue river. I fell off on the first rapid. Granted, the guide was trying to get someone to fall out of the boat, and I was seated in the victim´s seat, but falling off the boat only 2 minutes into the ride is a bit embarrassing. Oh well, everyone got wet at at some point. We spent a few hours on the rapids, and journeyed back to town for some food. If ever in Chile, you need to try a hotdog completo, loaded with avacado, tomatoes, mayo. I don´t like hotdogs. I find them kind of disgusting actually, but this one even looks good. Doesn´t it?

The dog.

From Bariloche, Puerto Varas

Today we headed out to the national park for some hiking and views of Osorno and one of Chile´s reportedly "most beautiful lakes", Lago Todos los Santos. It was rainy, and the cloud ceiling was extremely low, making views of the volcano impossible. There were some underwhelming waterfalls, the lake was nice and volcanic (black sand, blue water, islands of land), but most importantly there were tons of murta, a tasty red berry good for eating. We plan to bake something with the large bag we picked...something that involves pastry-like substances...maybe weĺl try our hand at helado.

Andrew's photoshoot.

From Bariloche, Puerto Varas

Picking murta at the base of Osorno on a rainy day.

From Bariloche, Puerto Varas

Trying to fit the waterfall and Andrew's gargantuan melon in the same picture.

From Bariloche, Puerto Varas

1 comment:

  1. Erin and Andrew - St. Patrick's Day does not seem to be celebrated in a big way. Did you mention to any of the hostel guests that Elissa was a seriously addicted Irish Dancer? I guess I will need to research the possibility of growing murta berries in the Seattle area - if they are really that good tasting.