Sunday, May 6, 2012

Long Weekend in the South: Chiloe

Oh hayyyy! It's Sunday night again which means I am sitting here procrastinating all of my readings/responsibility. Which would be fine except I have 3 exams this week. Which is sort of disorienting since all of my friends at home are finishing finals or have already headed back to their hometowns for the summer (or they're graduating and becoming real people which I won't address because it's scary and idontwannathinkaboutit). Anyway, here in Santiago the leaves are falling, I'm rocking leather jackets and scarves and boots and fun fall things! Also, as I've mentioned before I'm discovering what it means to live somewhere without central heating: chilly. I can't even imagine what winter will be like....

Moving on, I had a pretty great weekend filled with friends, fun, food, and even a little bit of sleep! Friday night some gringos and I met up with some of our Chilean friends for a previa (pregame) unsure of where we were going to go. Turned out it was this secret house/electronic show! We legit just walked up to an unmarked door and when it opened we were in this super cool music venue. My Chilean life is much hipper than my American life. Which obviously means I need to go shopping for more scarves and cool shoes. To be more hip. Also it's cold here.

Yesterday Claudia invited me to another asada at one of her daughters's houses. It was a lot smaller get-together than the last one I went to, so I really got to sit down and talk with her family and get to know people. Everyone was so welcoming and it was nice to be in a family environment. One of Claudia's granddaughters is 14 and super-tall but after dinner she crawled up on her Dad's lap and everyone was teasing her about how she's too old for that. It made me think of home and my family :) While it makes me miss home a little to be around such a great loving family, I think ultimately it's really comforting because I feel like they are my family too!

Anyway, I owe you all an update on my latest trip: Chiloe! Chiloe is the second largest island in South America (to be honest I have no idea what the biggest one is...) and it's a 15 hour bus ride south of Santiago. It's most famous for it's mythology and houses on stilts overlooking the ocean. It has a really different feel than mainland Chile, I think because it was pretty isolated for a long time. Today, it's super easy to access, with a ferry that holds cars and buses that goes back and forth frequently. Only 6 of us made the trip and it was all girls, so it very quickly became a girls weekend, which was great!

After an overnight bus from Santiago, we arrived in the small town on Ancud last Saturday morning around 9 AM and checked into our hostel, a super cute and comfy log cabin looking building with an ocean view! We wandered into town, ate a hearty breakfast and did a quick walking tour. We learned a lot about the mythology of the island, the group favorite being the "Trauco" who all of our host moms had warned us about. According to legend, he was an angel who fell in love with a woman on Chiloe and when God found out that they were having premarital sex God turned his angel into a really creepy looking troll called the Trauco. Now, the Trauco spends his time trolling (that was punny!) Chiloe and impregnating innocent women. Basically, if a girl get's pregnant and no one knows who the father is, it's probably the Trauco's baby. After watching a scary YouTube video on the Trauco which I'll post below, our group was sufficiently afraid of leaving the island pregnant with a troll baby. Luckily, there's a simple solution: make a cross out of two knives and the Trauco will stay away. We decided it would be best to stay on the safe side and we "stole" knives from the hostel kitchen for our protection.
Sorry that the video is in Spanish, but it's pretty easy to get the gist of the legend!

Anyway, after exploring we got super domestic and made a delicious dinner of pasta, chicken, and boxed wine. Shout out to the other Megan for legit deboning a chicken!

The next day we woke up bright (well not exactly, Chiloe is pretty rainy!) and early and headed off to the nearby city of Castro to explore. We found out that bussing between cities is pretty easy and cheap, so it would be easy for us to check out lots of areas of the island. Once in Castro we did another walking tour which took us all over the city. Highlights were the famous wooden church, the port, a delicious empanada place, miradores with views of the entire city, and a few different neighborhoods of palafitos which are the houses on stilts. We also stopped by an artisanal market where I bought the comfiest pair slippers ever. For dinner we found this great place with an ocean view and feasted on steak, salmon, the local seafood dish curanto (I wasn't brave enough for that!) wine, and frambuesa (raspberry) sours. Also, we might have gotten an appetizer of french fries. What up girls weekend? 

Monday we headed back to Castro to take a bus to Parque Nacional Chiloe to try our hand at horseback riding. Because it was the end of the season and a holiday weekend, we had had a hard time arranging a horseback tour, but the powers of Google assured us that we would be able to "ask any farmer you meet to borrow their horse." Oh okay Google. Thank you. Anyway, it rained all morning as  we bussed to Castro and the group energy was pretty low. The lady at the counter in the bus terminal to the park was pretty unhelpful and all of us were questioning if we should even go to park. Then, out of nowhere this bubbly man approached Jesse and asked if we were going to the park. This man made our day. He was our bus driver to the park and he explained everything to us and informed us he had many friends who did horse tours and he would help us find one. In Chiloe, it's really who you know I guess. As we approached the park, our bus driver stopped the bus and hopped out and walked into a farmhouse. I joked to Megan that he was finding our horses. When he got back on the bus he told us to get off, he had found us horses! Oh, okay. While we waited for our guide to get enough horses for the six of us, we used the bathroom at a farmhouse/restaurant and decided we should eat. Best. Decision. Ever. In the U.S. it might be considered sketchy to eat in some random house, but if my travels have taught me anything it's that that is the best way to eat (the best quesdillas in Chiapas? a random garage on a side street in Tapachula). This amazing woman filled or plates with beef that slid off of the bone, the juiciest tomatoes ever, and rice. Also, homemade bread and butter.

After the best lunch ever and the discovery that we would in fact be able to ride some horses, the sun came out. We headed outside to the most (least?) legitimate looking "office' of the horseback riding people. It was a shed that with "Horseback Tours" spray painted on it. We noticed later that the word "horses" was in quotation marks. Might explain why my horse was so small...Nevertheless, we headed out on our horses through the park, across dunes and down the shore of the island. The view was breathtaking and we had a great time. 

After our ride was over, we had about an hour to wait for our bus and decided to eat some more bread and butter at our new favorite restaurant. I was already in love with the woman there and then she came out and informed us that she said some empanadas fresh out of the pan and did we want any? OF COURSE WE DID. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. Also, we may have had a photoshoot on the side of the road waiting for the bus.

When we got home, the woman from the kayak tour we were planning the next day had e-mailed saying that the weather forecast wasn't looking great for the next morning so they were going to cancel. While we were disappointed, the ability to sleep in until 11 the next day, eat a long leisurely breakfast, and hang out in the hostel in my new slippers reading Game of Thrones until it was time to head back to Santiago was pretty great/just what I needed. 

Although this was one of the least planned-ahead trips I've ever been on, it was a blast! In Chiloe you can't really plan ahead because the weather is so variable and also people just don't answer their phones. As a result, the "planner" side of me had to take a rest for the weekend and just let things be. And what did I get? Frambuesa sours, empanadas, horseback riding by the ocean, and new slippers. Something to be said for taking life as it comes.


  1. Live and Learn....Right! We organizers do have to step back and relax! You obviously picked the right time. Sounds like a weekend that you will never forget. Getting lost on some of our various trips (which we always classified as Saunder's short cuts) have produced apprehension of course and a few swear words but at the end food, people and scenery that were never in the guide books. Of course, Google, where were you when we needed you, was just an idea in someones head back then. Envy you!!! Love, Grandma

  2. Your grandma keeps encouraging me to read your blog, Megan, and so glad I am continuing to do so! Fascinating to read about your adventures, the culture, the food, and the people! You are definitely having an experience of a lifetime, and I am so glad you are open to trying everything. Think what people miss out on when they are apprehensive every step of the way. Enjoy everything -- your time there is flying by. Perhaps someone should invent a GPS for horseback riding! :) Love, Alice