Bus. Boat. Bus

We left the island of Chiloe today to head north for work and warm, less rainy air.

Chiloe was fantastic! The folklore, the nature. I realized that I almost certainly belong in port/bay city. Not an ocean city mind you, beach culture usually has an annoyance to it that can be summed up by simply saying the word "braugh".

Bay cities are more relaxed. Everyone's clock runs a few minutes slower and annoyances are over shadowed by fishing boats and wood cut outs of crabs.


At Low Tide

Outside our bedroom window we can hear the ocean, and in the morning are woken by hungry sea gulls eating mussels and crabs that washed up overnight. This morning a large fishing boat grounded itself and at 7am we heard the men calling directions to get it back to sea.

The island is a world heritage site with narrow wooden shingled churches dotting every town on the coast. Chiloe, a place with rich ancient tradition, is now wholly catholocised. In the sheet metal cathedral of Castro, the capital, the arch angel michael is crushing a serpent monster of local folklore, which is to now represent satan.

The unique but similar churches were built by German monks who were missionaries to the island natives. As is the Christian custom of transition from one belief to another, old folkloric monsters are often converted to represent satanic beings. The same was done to Pan. These churches, though heavily Catholic, still show distinct signs of spiritual transition. From the star painted cathedral roof to guide nature worship to a new direction, to said angel stomping mythical creatures.

Still the people of Chiloe hold to certain traditions, and watch the horizon for the ancient ghost pirate ship on foggy days.


Puerto Varas

Is a little tourist town just north of Chiloe Island. We've been here for two nights while we schedule a bus to Chiloe and catch up on some sleep.

As I stated this town is very 'tourist' oriented and right now it is the low season for traveling. Which means we are the only gringos (that means 'white person' in Chilean) here. The hostel we are staying at is empty and the recommended restaurants from guide books are closed. Also this town doesn't sell ice cream when its not summer. So what to do...

Did I mention this town has a casino?

We found out that Laura is a little lucky charm! We both entered the casino with 5000 pesos, about $10.
Laura left doubling her money, while I left with some broke ass change.

Tomorrow we head for the island city of Castro. Although it sounds communist is really democratic.
Which explains its reputation as a place for 'pick pocketers'. Survival of the fittest and all.


Off to Chiloe

We are currently in the midst of packing our bags and setting sail for the Island of Chiloe. A place of complete cultural difference from Chile, including its own folklore, traditions and history with pirates.

The Island sounds very magical and mysterious, we look forward to a much needed ´break from work´. We have made some friends here in Valdivia with family in Chiloe that we can stay with, also there are a few people through out the island on couch surfing. So we are happy this will be a low cost break.


We will be there for about a week, hoping to see penguins and ghosts, until we head north to the great port city of Valparaiso. Where we are working at a hostel for the rest of our, part 1, stay in South America.

The end is near...weird.


Cat Update: for Isaac Ramsey


(Most recent photo)

For those of you who don´t know, or remember, Lagrimas is a kitten we found at the Valdivia fish market back in March. We found her, a couple weeks old, sitting pathetically meowing as she was accidentally kicked by the crowds of people buying food. Her eyes were swollen shut and her fur was covered in fish guts and water.
We decided that we couldn't´t just leave her there.

So we found a box and scooped her into it. She did not like being in the box.We took her to the vet, got her shots, de-fleaed and formula to clean her eyes.

We nursed her back to health. She slept between us every night, and never peed or pooped outside of her make shift litter box. She was the most intelligent kitten we ever met. What were we going to do with this cat?It was March then and we still had a lot of time left to travel. We were also unaware of the fact that we would come back to Valdivia.

We had to find her a home.

One of the German students living in the hostel decided that she could take her back to Germany with her, where her family has a farm. It seemed perfect. So we left Valdivia without Lagrimas, while she boarded a plane for Berlin.

So Lagrimas, the most intelligent cat in the world, after two months of being quarantined in a German airport, now lives on a farm outside of Berlin.

She is happy and healthy, and although we miss her and secretly wish we could have brought her home with us, we know she is better off as a farm cat.


Other places you can find us

(Photo by Michael Otley)

-Michael Otley did some fantastic photo documentation for our time together in Argentina. Here´s the link to his flickr:

-Issac Ramsey recounts through his gift with words the adventures and adjustments of our first few months in Chile:

-Our friend Tom´s travel blog. He took tons of great photos and videos of our time on the Hare Krishna farm.

-We even made it on pages we didn´t know existed like this one about eco-vounteering.
Our photos are near the bottom of the page.

(Photo of a birdie in Laney´s hand taken by Micheal Otley)


The Long Haul: A Summary

We are rounding the end of our time here in Valdivia.
We have spent a total of 3 months in this city, the longest we have stayed anywhere. Needless to say we have grown very fond of it.

We originally came back to the city to help our friends Jana and Mathi open a restaurant. At times the work and overall stress was difficult to handle. Sometimes emotions whirl winded in a way that could only make me imagine how Isaac felt when he came to see us for a weekend here in March. Mixed with the good, the bad and then good again, respectively.

But we have learned a lot here, about different culture's work ethic, about starting a business, and about ourselves. I think we will all walk away self improved and happy that none of us gave up.

We will miss Valdivia.
It has an urban relationship with its nature and wild life that is uniquely different from any other place we have been.

We will miss our friends.
The owners, house mates, entercambio partners, Swedish co-worker, the giraffe painter, taxi driver who stood on the corner, satanic cuddly tattoo artist, the Sikhs at Dharma, our street dog guide. We will miss them all.

Take away lesson:
When life hands you lemons, make Pisco Sours!

(Which is a well known Chilean mixed drink, for those who were not aware.)


Don´t go shopping in the rain

Last week I went to the market down the street where Jameson and I are able to buy sacks and sacks of fruit and vegetables for less than five dollars. I went by myself this time, Jameson watched the hostel for me while I was gone. It was a cold cloudy afternoon and there were gusts of wind that would creep up and make me tie my scarf tighter around my neck. it had been raining all morning. The vendors at the market were keeping shelter under flapping plastic tarps held down by wooden posts.

I was strolling along buying some tomatoes and lettuce. I stopped to look at the prices of the lemons, a wind kicked up and with it a tarp and wooden post. In my peripheral vision I saw a giant wooden post flying towards my head. It clobbered me right above my left temple. I lost my vision for a second and when it came back I was holding on to an old man beside me. I started asking the people around me if I was bleeding, I couldn´t feel anything, but I could still speak Spanish so I figured that I couldn´t be that hurt. Some woman in the crowd asked me if I was alone and if I lived nearby. Another man gave me some water to splash on my face. I cried all the way home, thinking about all the horrible things that could have happened. Jameson took good care of me when I reached the house. Helped me calm down and gave me some frozen peas from the fridge.

It´s strange to think about all the dangerous things I have done in my life and accomplished safely, then one day I go to buy vegetables at the market and am nearly knocked unconscious by a flying pole. You really never know what´s going to happen. There are so many things that we can´t control. I´m fine though, escaped it all with just a bump on the head, a red spot below my eye, and the knowledge that I need to stay alert next time I go shopping at that market


Searching for Treasure

It´s a different type of experience staying in the same town for a few months. We have dedicated ourselves to finding the hidden secrets of valdivia. Last week we found an abandond train yard by the river. Its all boarded up, you have to pass through a mecanic shop heaping with metal scraps and wheels to find the overgrown tracks. One of the train cars had been converted into an apartment. We peered through the key hole and saw a small clean kitchen and a pair of workboots. I wonder if they will ever turn that space into something else, or just let it crumble and self destruct through entropy.

Another day while strolling along, followed by the street dog Guia who accompanies us each time we meet, we found a large abandond cruise boat. I had seen the boat before and always admired it from afar and it was wonderful to be able to step foot on it, search the hollow steel and feel it sway back and forth on the water.

The other night the local University radio station broadcast thier birthday party from the bar. Jameson and I were interviwed about our experiences as forgieners in chile. I mentioned how it bothers me when I am waiting tables and groups of young students will sometimes make fun of my accent. Hopefully some of those punks were listening the the radio and can learn some manners. We also mentioned our love of aji and lobo marinos.

We are hanging in over here. The bar is a sucessfule buisness and there have new faces passing through the hostel every day. We are working alot but I am able to spend some of my time working at the hostel reading an excellet latin american classic "100 years of solitude" which is beautiful and transporting for my rainy days stuck in the casa.