Crossing Andes Mtns to Lake LLanquihue

Trip Start Oct 20, 2013
Trip End Nov 08, 2013

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Flag of Chile  , Lake District,
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thursday, October 31st
Buenos Dias from Puerto Vargas, Chile!
After a long day of traveling up and over the Andes, we arrived in Puerto Vargas, Chile.  We had a busy day exploring Patagonia in and around Bariloche.  Our day began with a discussion of the Marpuche Nation, the indigenous people of the southern half of Chile and Argentina, with Christina, a leader and spokesperson for her community in Bariloche. They numbered about 2 million until the 1880s.  With a strong sense of unity and a clear sense of nationhood, they developed an unquestionable desire to maintain self- determination and freedom that forced them into armed resistance, first against the Inca Empire and then for 400 years against the Spanish, Chilean and Argentinean authorities. In 1885, in Patagonia, the Mapuche Nation was finally defeated and most people were either killed or forced out of their home to live in small rural communities, while children were given away to be trained as servants. Today, the Mapuche
people are considered the most deprived sectors of Chilean and Argentinean society and are still fighting for their right to be accepted.
Following our meeting with Christina, we headed out for our "float" down the Limay River.  The river was high and fast with the spring melt, and and we floated through some scenic canyons and rock formations, with few signs of civilization.  At the take out point, we had  a lunch of empanadas, fruit, fry bread, marmalade, and small chard quiches along the river. 
We then headed to the estancia of a family for a day on the "steppe", the high, flat plain in the Andes to experience the life of a gaucho.  We went horseback riding and had a large dinner with lamb, beef, and chorizo (sausage) barbecued on the grill.  The family came to Argentine from Germany in the early 1900s.  The grandfather was a worker who helped develop the National Parks (there are many national parks in Chile and Argentina) and was given land to settle in payment.  
We left Wednesday morning early for a bus trip over the border and into Chile.  Chile stretches 2,625 miles from north to south, from desert to glaciers. In July of 2011, a large volcano erupted in  Chile, along the border, and covered the area  around Bariloche with ash.  The town was closed for 7 months in order to dig out. As we traveled through the pass, your could still see piles of ash that had been plowed off the road and all the mountain tops were still covered with the ash.
We stopped at a quaint restaurant for lunch next to an Auto Museum, where the largest collection of restored Studebakers were displayed, along with cars and pickup trucks dating back to the late 1920s were displayed. There was a Studebaker factory in Santiago until they stopped production.
 We are in Puerto Varas, where Chile starts to break into hundreds of windswept islands,separated by canals, straits and seas, and is covered with lush vegetation.   Puerto Vargas was founded in 1854 by German immigrants and many of the wooden colonial homes still remain.  Restaurants and coffee shops serve kitchen made with the fresh berries that are grown in this region.  Many of the berries found in our grocery stores come from here.  We can see two snow covered volcanos from out hotel window - one looks very much like Mt. Fujiyama.
Tomorrow we will be taking a ferry boat to Chiloe Island, which is an island the size of Puerto Rico.
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Robert Druckrey on

What a great set of pictures of Chile and Argentina!

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