Monday, February 16, 2009

The End Of The Road - Almost

We have reached the end of the road. The Pan American ends about a km south of Quellon Chile. Chile’s Ruta 5, which we have followed off and on for the past two weeks, just ends on the island of Chiloe. So tomorrow we take a ferry back to the mainland to continue the trip south on the Carraterra Austral.

Southern Chile is green, warm, and filled with Chileans on summer vacation. Chileans enjoy a security that does not exist in any other country we have visited, the USA included. We have seen thousands of teenage and 20 something Chileans hitchhiking their way south. There is no fear of harm. They have their backpacks, sleeping gear, and get rides from everyone. Remember real family vacations? They still have them here. We see the whole family packed in the Subaru station wagon or the SUV packed full with bikes on the back, and a roof rack stacked high. Everyone heads to the cabins on the lake, just like Minnesota used to be, and spend two or three weeks together.

Another thing that we love, and did not take too much getting used to, is the system of budget hostels where you get a room, share the bathroom ( just like Minnesota used to be) , and get a breakfast with the room. We meet so many interesting and great people. One of the families we met was Sergio and Maria Soledad Letelier and their two daughters. Picture attached. Sergio is a food distributor in Santiago. He saw an ad in the paper and bought a 600 acre parcel on the island of Chiloe two years ago. Now he is trying to build a fishing lodge and summer resort. He is a successful businessman, but we met him and his family at the hostel in Castro, where they had a room and shared the three bathrooms the the other 25 of us. He was using his vacation time and the hostel as headquarters to work out his development plans with the local indigenous leadership. My point is that the Chileans really enjoy being with each other and being in a more communal vacation atmosphere. And social status and money are not the determinative factor.

When we got to the hostel in Pucon they announced that there was rafting a 2pm, and would we like to go. Absolutely. So we dumped our gear, got some food, and proceeded to raft some class 4 and 5 rapids. Picture attached. People are so layed back here. Remember what I said about a sense of security. It is so pronounced that there was no sign up sheet, no liablity , and they said pay us tomorrow when you get some cash. Try that in Jackson Hole.Well we did pay them, had a wonderful time, met some Germans and Peruvians on the raft trip, and slept great.

We are now on the ferry route again. We had to take a ferry to get on the island of Chiloe, and we will take one to get off too. There is something about a ferry ride with the motorcycles that spells adventure.

So as I look out the window of my room on the port of Quellon on a dreary Thursday night, I am looking forward to the trip to Chaiten tomorrow to continue the last leg of the trip to Ushuia Argentina and Tierra Del Fuego.


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