Published: December 4th 2011December 4th 2011
Day 53 - Friday 2nd
Last night we went out for dinner at a restaurant called Sacho, and like a lot of restaurants and hotels in chile was run entirely by women. I suppose this only our third Chilean town so we are curious to see if this trend continues as we travel. Anyway the restaurant had great views over the nearby harbour and for the first time in ages we were able to order seafood. Shelley got a Salmon that had a mild (very mild) chile salsa topped on it, and I got a very curious meal that was a fillet of salmon stuffed with Chorizo sausage, cheese and tomato. Both were a speciality of the area and were great so we have vowed to return. When we got the bill we were totally surprised by a complimentary shot of the liquor Amarillo, which was Nans favourite liquor, so we were able to toast Nan’s birthday.
Today we didn’t have a lot planned so we slept in a bit before hoping up for our tasty breakfast of a devon and cheese roll with a piece of cake. First stop today was a regional museum
located around the corner from the hotel and it was really tiny, but it was free. It had a great display of photos of the town after the 1960 earthquake, which just about destroyed the town completely along with half of Chile. Looking at the photos you wonder how they ever rebuilt the place as there really wasn’t a lot left standing, although all the timber churches survived intact.
After the museum we went down to the bus station to pick up our bus tickets out of town. We then went on another long walk around town through some of the old residential areas. As most of you know, generally our trips are one long journey and we rarely stop to smell the flowers, and we are happiest when we are on the move. South America is a lot slower and days like today are a bit out of the norm for us but we are slowly getting used to pausing longer in towns and just wandering for the sake of wandering. The town of Castro is perhaps the perfect place to slow down for a while and take in the town and area. We had thought about getting
a bus out to another town on the island that involved a 3 hour round bus trip, and the highlight of the place is that it gets the largest tides on the island (7 metres). Yes that’s right, 3 hours on a bus to watch the tide! We took the wise option to just chill in Castro. It was great to wander around taking in all the domestic architecture and greeting locals with “Buenos Dias” as if we were now a local ourselves. Most of the town consists of timber homes clad with timber shingles, which in an earthquake zone is probably the better option to bricks and concrete. As a tourist the old timber shingled homes add great character to a town.
Around midday we stopped at a café and got one of the best coffees we have had so far in South America, it had won best coffee in Chile for the past 3 years – not sure who voted, but it was good. We lingered for a while watching the passing crowds, traffic and dogs, till the smoke got the better of us and we moved on.
We had already decided dinner was going to
be at Sacho again so about 8.00pm we walked around the corner and it still had the shutters down, I went into panic it should be opened and it is Saturday Night. We walked around the shops for a while hoping they were running late as the sense of urgency to open on time is not a priority here, eventually at about 8.40pm we saw the roller shutters were up. For an entrée we got King Crab and mains Scott got the same dish and I opted for another local Speciality mussels, clams, chorizo and potato, it was amazing and huge portion with a nice bottle of white wine. It has been a great stay for a place we almost bypassed.
Day 54 - Saturday 3rd
Today we are back on the road again so up and packing our bags to be ready for the 8.00am breakfast, well we were ready, but there was no staff and nothing set up only one poor sad looking tourist sitting there waiting. Waited a while then went back to the room to do some final things and at 8.20am meet the lady who organises the breakfast on
her way in, so breakfast turned out to be at 8.30am today. It had been raining all night so we were lucky to have a bit of a break in the weather as we walked to the bus station for our 10.10am bus journey. The ferry crossing was calm and the rain was falling again so this was a good day to be travelling. The bus had a million stops and it was more like a local bus with people jumping on and off. As we got closer to our destination it was a bit confusing if we were stopping at the main station as half the bus emptied out at bus stops. The driver said he stopped at centro so we sat down again and waited to get to the station. When we arrived the rain was very heavy and we had about 2km walk so we opted for a taxi, which was the right decision. The streets were very crowded as there was a National Telethon happening and everyone was out, it would have been no fun pushing through the crowds with our backpacks in the rain and anyway the taxi only cost $2.
We had chosen
a hotel from the Lonely Planet but had not booked, so where concerned when there were no rooms available. After a bit of too and throwing we were given a cabana it is huge, 2 storeys with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen. We were not sure if others would be sharing this with us as it got lost in translation (once again). When we filled out the hotel paperwork the lady indicated that there was 3 of us, maybe she thought my shadow was another person, we said no dos (two) and we ended up with a discount. It was now about 6.00pm so it is time to explore the streets for what is available for food and where a supermarket is if I want to cook. The streets are still crowded and there was music in the main square, the town looks very run down and the restaurants are quite expensive for the fast food they serve. One of the restaurants we were looking for is now a vacant plot and the other did not inspire us and on top of this we had not seen a supermarket. On the way back to the hotel we passed
a bar that looked OK and stopped for dinner which turned out to be the best and biggest hamburger with avocado, olives and salad.
Day 55 – Sunday 4th
Well we are glad to inform you that no one else turned up last night to share our cabana, so we now assume we have it to ourselves so it is party time. Downside is the breakfast is delivered the night before so it is stale bread rolls again, but some nice yogurt, the mystery continues 3 bread rolls, 3 slices of ham and 3 yogurts – not sure where this 3rd
person is hiding. Scott has even gone upstairs a few times to check the 2 bedrooms up there.
Today is Sunday so there is no one on the streets and everything appears closed, so the first stop is the bus station to get tickets out of town for Tuesday, passed a supermarket for later. Then I dragged Scott down to the river on the other side of town, which is like another world with big flashy houses and two big hotels, damn how come we are not on this side – that
is right we are cheapskates. It’s a nice walk with people rowing along the river like England university towns, as we get around the bend there is a huge commotion and there is a fun run happening with groups promoting healthy eating. I think they have a huge battle to change the eating habits of the Chilean people everything is fatty, sugary and huge it is hard to get a good salad as it often contains only three ingredients (shredded lettuce, tomato and onion) and is expensive.
Just near this area we pass 4 sea lions sunning themselves on the small wharf, well we smelt them before we saw them they really do stink. As we continued around we walked through the fish market where there were a large group of sea lions behind waiting for the scrap to be thrown to them, plus seagulls, vultures and an assortment of various birds. The largest bull sea lions had the best spots with a few fights breaking out over position and food. We even passed a decommissioned submarine that had become a battleground for the top spot for all the sea lions, I definitely would not like to be in
the water with them.
Now it is time for the domestic duties and to the supermarket to buy supplies for the next two nights dinner, as we turn down a street to lead us there in front of us is an enormous shopping mall all new and flashy. The town is strange with many of the streets, restaurants and bars looking seedy and then this mall with fashion shops it is surreal. We haven’t been in (nor looking for) a large shopping centre since leaving Australia so it was nice for a change to be strolling around with the Christmas carols playing, Christmas trees and Santa having his photo taken with the kids. After going to the Supermarket for the supplies we are now back in our cabana for a quite night in, or a party as someone is playing bad music just outside. Whilst in South America nearly all the music we have heard has been compilation tracks with endless 10 second snippets of songs strung together with a bad back beat. Think of the old stars on 45 tracks from the 70’s and 80’s and you get the picture, and funny enough most of the songs are
from the 70,s and 80,s. I don’t think we have yet heard a song in full so it can be a bit irritating after a while, especially after 4 hours on a bus.