Thursday, February 9, 2012


Agh.  Behind on my writing again!  We are moving around at a rapid pace these days and I just can’t quite get caught up.  In the next few posts I'll get catch up on what we’ve been up to the last 10 days or so. 
We traveled to the island of Chiloé last week Tuesday in kind of a whirlwind.  After the wet morning leaving the refugio last Monday, we took an evening bus to a city called Puerto Montt and checked into a room close to midnight.  The next morning we took the bus/ferry/bus trip to the island. 
While on our way, Harper came down with the same fever/headache thing that Cal had had the weekend before although she was a trooper traveling.   She slept off and on for the 2 travel days and I felt terribly guilty that we were dragging her around when really she just needed some time in her bed.  Thankfully once we arrived she seemed to perk up and it never grew to to be too much of an illness. 
Cal loves the ferry (and he is back to smiling for pictures.  yahoo)

The wind gave Danny's hair some serious loft.

View from the baño
So we got to the island and stayed in a town called Ancud.  The family whose apartment in which we stayed were very kind and welcoming.  They have three kids- two ten year-old twin girls and a four year-old girl.  Harper and Cal adored them all.  Meli, the four year old, and Harper became fast friends, and the older girls were really sweet with Cal- pulling him around on their boogie board, organizing little games, and playing ball with him.  Sandra and Britt, the owners, run an touring company in town and made us feel welcome at their place here- having dinner with us our first night, giving us lots of ideas about what to check out during our visit, helping us rent a car here, etc.  Sandra even invited me along to her yoga class one day.  Their home is located on a bay and they have a big rolling piece of property complete with cows, chickens, gardens, and the beach.  We spent our first day here just exploring and playing.  We walked the beach, Harper and Cal spent a lot of time playing dress up with Meli, we wrestled with their dogs- a shepherd, a golden (just like the good old days of Max and Sadie) and they have two puppies!  It was really nice to relax after all the hectic travels to get here. 
Meli, Harper and Cal pose for a photo on the beach
Boogie board rides from Miska
Not a bad backyard!

The next day we rented a car and made our way to the penguin colony on the western side of the island.  We saw both Humboldt penguins and Magellan penguins and the kids had a ball.  We took a little fishing boat out to the rocky islands and got to get up nice and close.  Our guides were great and we understood most of what they told us about the area.  There were lots of chicks with grey downy feathers as well as over a hundred mature penguins.  We also saw many different other kinds of sea birds- terns, gulls, petrels, more than I can remember.

Our photos are not so good but we had a great view.
 The most exciting surprise came with the spotting of a sea lion up on the rocks.  Its head was enormous and we were really lucky to see it moving about.  Our guide explained that the sea lions get most active in the evenings so we were lucky that we happened to take one of the last trips out for the day and got to see him scooting around on the rocks.  Cal and Harper were really intrigued by its strange look.  He apparently comes around often because our guides called him by name, Arturo.  I think this was one of my favorite animal sightings so far in our travels.  Sea lions seem to me to be so awkward, with their little flippers and spastic movements, and yet they are so strong and powerful.  And amazing swimmers, too.  I thought it was interesting that in Spanish they are called Lobos del Mar, or sea wolves.   And in German (if I remembering correctly) they are called sea dogs.
Arturo the sea lion

More penguins on the sunny side
 The boat ride out to the penguin colony was also fun in itself.  It was mostly mellow and we were able to come close to the rocks without feeling like the reflecting waves were bouncing us around too much.  There was one time we had to go out around the point and it got a little wavy but nothing to make me seasick thankfully.  Harper and Cal got splashed with one huge wave right in their faces, but they took it like champs and just giggled in shock.  Everyone on the boat had a good laugh.

We also explored the some of the seaside towns around Castro.  We watched a woman split and serve fresh oysters although none of us were too keen on trying one.  Slimy, salty, raw all slurped down in a big swallow?  No thanks.  We walked through a little museum showing all the creatures in Chiloé’s mythology and oral stories.  

The church in Dalcahue
Cal shovels in more shrimp

Inside Church of San Francisco, built around 1910.  Everything is wood, down to the nails.
Alerce wood doors

You can't tell here, but all the houses along the shore (called palafitos) are on stilts.  
One of the coolest areas we visited was called Chepu, on the western side of the island.  The Chepu River valley is at the confluence of three rivers and covers a huge sunken forest, a consequnce of the 1960 earthquake.  The riverbed area sunk more than 2 meters in the quake and the following tsunami covered the area with saltwater, killing yet preserving the trees.  The rivers became tidal rivers and the tops of the dead and sunken trees stick out into the river making it a beautiful and mystical place for a sunrise kayak.  
The morning we were set to leave Chiloé, Danny squeezed in a 5am kayak paddle on the river.  We had planned to do it together but I woke up in the night coming down with the same crappy fever, headache thing the kids had earlier.  So Danny went on his own, getting out the door at 4am in total darkness and had a really nice quiet morning.  He pushed off around 5:15am, paddling out in the dark, and watched the sun come up and the fog lift in the valley.  He saw river otters and a variety of birds, as well as all the wild shapes and reflections of the treetops he paddled around and over.  I was bummed to miss this to say the least.


  1. The fact that you don't like oysters makes me wonder if we are related... Blasphemy!

  2. Well, now I have a spot in mind for when you're in Chicago come May (maybe some birthday cocktails, too?!?). We are going to make you eat your words about not liking oysters.

    Miss you all!

    Lots of Love, Lisa