Touring Puerto Varas and surrounding area

Trip Start Feb 26, 2012
Trip End Apr 02, 2012

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Flag of Chile  , Lake District,
Sunday, March 11, 2012

Well, today started the way every Sunday does for us-with the CBC News! Bob has found the World at Six on the CBC website (that is one confusing website!) so we listened to Friday's 6 pm news….better than no news at all!  We sat at the dining room table drinking coffee at the B&B and I am sure our hosts Pauline and Raf wondered what we were doing!  The guests at Casa Ko’ are invited to go into any room of the house with the exception of the owner’s bedroom and the kitchen.  However, as we passed by the kitchen we noticed that the dirty dishes were piled high on the counter top.  Pauline mentioned that she had "help" every day except Sunday…..was it possible that the dishes were being left until Monday morning when the “help” arrived……we’ll see!

Then we were off for the day.   We had to change our plans a bit as it was pouring rain and not a good day for the boat trip across the lake that we had planned to take.   It was raining quite heavily as we drove the 40 kms into Puerto Varas.  There were just 2 other guests at the B&B overnight-2 French speaking fellows who were here without a car so we drove them the 3 kms from the house to the main road.  Not sure what they were up to for the day but they were very appreciative of the lift!

Puerto Varas is a tourist town on the lakeside but as we have mentioned before it appears that tourist season is over so there are relatively few people around and most of the shops are closed.  We headed for the biggest church in town which is Catholic.  We had read that there was Mass at 12pm so we pulled into the parking lot at 11:55 and were skeptical as to whether we had the correct information as there was only one other car in the lot.  We went in and selected a pew at the back (we are Presbyterian after all and that is where all good Presbyterians sit!).  By the time the church bells rang at 12pm there were perhaps 20 people in the pews, but slowly the sanctuary filled as the service got underway.  It was all in Spanish so we really have no idea of how the service compared with one in North America, and of course we are not that familiar with catholic services anyway.  What we can say for sure is that the crowd was much younger than any church we have attended in recent years.  There were many children there and it seemed to be quite acceptable for them to play and run up and down the aisles while the priest spoke.  The music was lovely…no organ just a guitar being played from the balcony at the back.  The church was of course very old (1905) so it seemed odd to see that they were projecting the hymns up  on the old walls instead of using any sort of hymn book.  The offering was gathered in large velvet bags hung from long sticks which were projected down each pew.  Most people were putting only change as offering…..seemed a bit strange considering the prosperous appearance of the attendees and the high-end cars in the parking lot, but it is quite possible that we do not understand how their system works…...

As we left the church parking lot, which was packed by the time we came out, there was a man at the entrance begging for money……virtually every car stopped and gave him some!  Wow, if word about this situation got out in Toronto, there would be a real crowd of people at the gate!  Basically there does not appear to be a problem with panhandlers in Chile that we have seen so far.

After church we drove around the town to look at the historic homes identified in the guide. Driving can be a challenge with all the one way steets that are sometimes poorly marked. Several times Bob turned down a street only to realize that we were going the wrong way. This area was pioneered by people of German descent and thus there is a strong German influence to the architecture.  Next we stopped in the town centre to walk around.  The usual mix of shops and restaurants with a pretty central square.  The shops were primarily closed for Sunday, and those that were open appeared to close from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. 

Next we drove to the little tourist town of Frutilla.  This is another pretty little town on the edge of a lake which is surrounded by volcanic mountains.  The sun was out by this point so it was beautiful.  This little town has been quite fortunate to have been provided with a spectacular concert hall.  It has been built right out into the water of the lake, and has without a doubt been a boon for the many restaurants and little shops in town.  We stopped to purchase some fabulous blueberries from a Mapuche woman selling them from a huge bin right on the main street.  We paid $3.00 for a kilo of wonderful big berries-too bad we aren’t able to make a pie, I would have bought a lot more! We enjoyed a lovely walk around town and then took a leisurely drive back to Puerto Varas via the road which follows the lakeshore.  Beautiful homes and farms all along the way.

We had told Pauline that we would be eating out that night so when we got back to town we set about looking for a restaurant that was open.  Some restaurants aren’t open on Sunday, and many don’t open until 7:30 or 8:00 pm for dinner which is usually eaten at 8:30 or 9:00 pm.  We went to Dane’s Café which was recommended in our guide book and as described the food was very good!  It seemed to be primarily families in the restaurant.  It was interesting to watch the kids behaving much the same as kids at home…..all on their iPhones texting and whatever.  All the most recent technology appears to be as available here in Chile as anywhere in North America.  We have no problem making Wi-Fi connections even in the remote towns and in hostals and B&B's. 

As we drove back to Casa Ko we noticed a couple of cars flash their lights at us…..wonder what that means in Chile…?  Well, we found out very shortly when we came around a bend and 2 carabaneiros were standing in the middle of the road indicating that we should pull over.  Bob rolled down the window and the fellow said something to which Bob responded -"I don’t speak Spanish".  The fellow clearly did not know what to say or do next…..and neither did we!  We guessed that he might be asking to see Bob’s driver’s license so he dug it out and handed it over.  The fellow walked to the back of the car where the other carabinera was writing down our license plate number.  They conferred with each other and then handed Bob back his license and indicated that we could go-whew!

Back at Casa Ko safely where the 2 French fellows and Pauline and Raf were having dinner, with what appeared to be lots of wine and loud and animated discussion in French.  No idea what it was about so we just checked our email and headed off to bed.  Lovely sleeping conditions-pitch dark and cool mountain air!
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