Friday, August 22, 2014

Head South and Straight On Until Morning!!!

Hey all,

We're here in Santiago, Chili and I finally have working internet.  The hotel upgraded things a bit and Jonathon worked his magic with the rest and now I can at least get on and work without it being so slow I want to scream!!!!

Chili may not be known for it's good internet, but I have to say, so far I'm loving the other things here.  The Andes are all around us and they're gorgeous.  I look outside my window here at the Sheraton Hotel and I see all these beautiful snow-capped mountains.  One of the best views we've had on tour!!!!

I thought I'd take this week's blog to share a little of what we've discovered here in Chili so far.  We've been here about three weeks now and have already had so many adventures.

The first week Jonathon worked setting up the show while I put our house together.  Then we had three days off and we took advantage of them by taking a road trip.  We didn't know exactly where we were going...we just pointed the car south and drove.

And wow...we had a great time.  While the first part of the trip wasn't all that--the road south went through an area that was pretty boring--by the end of the night we had arrived in a part of Chili that was absolutely breathtaking.

We wound up in the Araucanía region of Chili in the town of Temuco.  It is the very most northern tip of the Patagonia region, but it's more known for it's gorgeous mountains, lakes and volcanoes.  And it quickly became one of our favorite places on the planet.

We wanted to get as far into the mountains as possible, and since we'd gotten a recommendation about the same place from two different people in Temuco, we jumped into the car and headed to the small village of Pucón on Lake Villarrica.  (see sunset pic above)

This area is well known for some of the best outdoor sports around and sits at the base of an active volcano, Villarrica.  People actually climb it so they can get a peek inside, and while we'd have liked to do that as well, the winter snow made it impossible for us.

So, instead we drove through some truly beautiful countryside, enjoying the beauty of the area.  We grabbed a picnic lunch and hiked up to Tres Saltos -- a set of three waterfalls set in farm country beneath the smoking crown of the volcano.

Later, we wandered around Parque Nacional Huerquehue.  This area is one of the places where the native Araucaria Araucana flourish.  These unique trees are amazing and I hadn't realized until now they were native to Chili.

We ended our time out with a wonderful meal back in the village--a very interesting Chilean treat called Sopa de Conger.  It's soup made from conger eel and a local delicacy.  Apparently, it's NOT something tourist's usually order, because the waiter tried to talk me out of it.  He did everything but come out and refuse to bring it to me.  LOL  But hey...I loved eating haggis when we visited Scotland, so I enjoy "different" foods.

And I'm so glad I did try it.  While not as good as haggis, it was quite tasty.  A little fishy--more like eating fresh clams or mussels, but I enjoyed it.  Jonathon tried it and gave me the face.  He HATES anything that tastes fishy!

Curious as to what the eel the soup is made from looks like? See below...  Both are Conger Eels.  The paler one is called a Golden Conger and the darker one is called a Red Conger. (I know it looks black, but it's actually a red one.)

Anyway, we had a wonderful time.  The drive, the scenery, walking in the cold fresh air beneath a steaming volcano...all of it.  Not what we expected to do on our road trip, but sometimes when you play it by ear and just wing it, you discover something special that you would never have found otherwise.

And this time, we really did!!!

Until next week...

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams


Phylis said...

Awesome trip! I wish many times I could see what you see! Thanks for sharing CJ!

Ray said...

The lifeguard stand looks like it is floating on top of the water. Some of the pictures you take are National Geographic quality. You should enter some of your pics in one of its contests.

The soup looks like something I would try. I would think the veggies take some of the fishiness out of the flavor. I would try it. I've tried crocodile, water buffalo, grasshopper and a few things I didn't know what they were. Although some were not my favorites they were OK. I had some wonderful food in Chile. The best was after church when I ate at the pastor's house. We had a soup that was tasty, but I don't recall what it was.

I don't know if there are any tourist trips down the Chilean Intracoastal Waterway, but it would be a trip never to forget. When I went through on a Navy ship we saw a ship that ran aground decades before. It was foggy and looked like a ghost ship. At one place on the trip we stopped to buy seafood from local vendors on boats. The mess had shrimp for a month afterward that we could take out of the freezer and cook for ourselves. We heard noises at night. I went out to look. They were small icebergs. Anyway coastal Chile is a great place to visit.

CJ England said...

You're welcome, Phylis. Glad you enjoyed it.

CJ England said...

Thanks, Ray. I thought the sunset pic was one of my best. The lifeguard stand was broken and tipped over, but I loved the way it looked against the light.

I'll look into the trips. We're hoping we have time to go further south and enjoy all there is to see.

Ray said...

I don't know much about Santiago, but most Chileans are short by US standards and darker skinned, but in Punta Arenas the people are taller and lighter skinned. The area was settled by Yugoslavians. Punta Arenas is the southern most city in the world. There are towns to the south in Argentina, but no cities.

An aside on Punta Arenas is that there is no, at least so in 1983, marine fuel terminal. It took 50 tanker trucks over a couple of days to refuel the ship.

CJ England said...

Wow, Ray that's a lot of trucks. It must have taken forever!!!!!