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Chillian and the Falls September 4, 2009

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September 2, 2009

I spent the night in a little bare spot next to the road just 200 meters from the falls. While the first night out I had wrestled around trying to sleep in the front while Levi slept in the back and the girls in their crate, last night I had an idea that worked out well. Again the girls went in the crate but this time Levi stayed up front, and I pushed the back seat cover up into a tent like apperatus and slept under it. With the center consol in the upright position, this gives me a cuppy that completely conceals me, blocks most of any security lighting and adds traps some of my heat. In this fashion I was able to sleep well last night in my light sleeping and cover even though it got below freezing.

The falls themselves are the kind of place you would come if you lived within an hour. I can see hoping on a motorcycle or jumping in the convertible with girl and coming here for a romantic outing on a warm Sping or Indian Summer day. There is a paved trail that runs to the top of the falls and many restraunts and cafés to rest at after the little hike.

Afternoon / Evening September 2

After lunch and a nap, the dogs and I were pretty borded of the falls area and so I decided to take a jont up to Chillian on a whim. Consulting my guide, which is the COPEC Chiletur 09, it looked as though there were several things to see in Chillan. The first one was once the house of the Liberator Bernard O’Higgins. Arriving in Chillian from the south, this house would be on my way into town and the first stop. Tourist disappointed, the park around the house and area was being modernized. This meant scaffolding and constructions crews everywhere and the place was closed. Heading into centro, the guide book had a Mercado in a catherdral marked. I passed the Mercado and knew I was going to have to come for a stroll. The catherdral is on the edge of the plaze in the center of town, so I was able to park here. After a peak in an around the catherdral, I headed over to the mercado. Laid out in an X with one half of the long axis being dry good and clothing, souviners and such and the other being the fruit and vegetable market. By the time I arrived, the food side was all but shutdown which left a grewsome scene of produce carnage. With lettuce leaves, squashed tomatoes, bits o carrot and the like, one could have made enough vegetable soup to feed 100 people just from the aftermath.

I left Chillian with the impression of a Santiago style city on a much smaller scale. Not only the mercado, but the walking avanue in through the middle of town; an old cobblestone street, now shut to anything but foot traffic. I got an ice cream for 550 pesos instead of the 1000 in Villarrica and if I had needed them, eggs where 990 – 1000 pesos for a dozen instead of the usual 1350 also in Villarrica.

Salto del laja and Concepcion September 4, 2009

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Afternoon September 1

I returned to the lookout with the canons after having some roast chicken and french fries – man they love their fries in Chile. The dogs rested outside in the Sun while I took a nap and got in about 1.5 hours of rest. When I awoke, I took the footpath leading down to the coast about ¾ of the way and saw that it does indeed go all the way down to the little point playa. However, I did not go to the beach. This along with a walking tour of the city and possibly a trip to the mines, I left undone. I like knowing that if I ever return I already have a list of activities to explore. I then headed off to drift through the museum and house of the Cosiño family. With reading the placards and gazing at several of the photos and artifacts, the whole thing took me about 20 minutes. Beautiful house with large rooms, wide halls and a Sun room on the second floor, but rubish when compared with the gardens. I think I would live in the lighthouse instead.

Leaving Lota, I headed back to Concepcion to locate a bookstore. It took well over an hour to find the mall and then about 15 minutes to discover that again, I was not about to pay 20 dollars for an 11.95 book. My sister had theorized that it seems as though all they do here is take the price in dollars, add a zero and call it pesos. For example, the 11.95 book, was 11,950 pesos. At and exchange rate of about 550, that makes the book $21.73 – even if it is Bill Bryce, that is still too much.

One of the many things I find interesting and a bit commical is that for all the modernization, roads, skyscrapers, a good many people with autos and iPods; horses and oxen are still used throughout. On the bridge leaving Concepcion there was a slight traffic jam (taco) as people slowed to pass a horse drawn cart crossing the 2km bridge. Now I know why in a city of 500,000 that there are signs on six lane thouroghfares indicating it is not permitted to conduct a horse cart on that roadway. Also, on the road back toward Los Angels, I saw many farmers ploghing their fields with oxen.

After picking up some food in Los Angels, I headed North to Salto Del Laja; Laja Falls.

Lota September 4, 2009

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September 1, 2009

The trip to Lota started off ordinary enough and until this morning, I thought this first leg of the trip to Ushuaia might be without incident. I left Villarrica about 6:15pm last night. Once on the highway (Ruta 5 – PanAmerican) I filled the gas tank. Gas at the first Copec was 10 pesos cheaper than in Villarrica. Taking the highway north, I exited at Collipulli and followed the signs leading to Concepcion. At about 41KM from Concepcion it was 10:15pm. Finding a good spot I pulled over and setup for the evening. The dogs were walked and watered and the girls put in the crate while Levi and I shared the front of the truck. The site was a rather large area, about 2000 m2, behind a guardrail on the side of the road I was traveling.

Waking a little after 4am, I walked the dogs again and the girls were eager to get back in the front of the truck. We headed out toward Concepcion about 4:30am and after a couple of wrong turns, arrived a little after 5am. I stopped at a Copec and got coffee – strong coffee. Since the streets were empty, eariliy empty – were are all the cars – decided to take a look around. I headed back towards the sign that said centro and found the plaza and Catherdral and a small mall complex. It was about then that I realized I needed to shit and started looking for a way out of town and into the country from which I had come. The roads in Concepcion are designed not to let you out, one way streets and endless rotundas make for a maze. It was then, without warning, that Levi puked in the center section of the bench seat. Great, I have to shit, and now I have dog puke on my cloth seats at about 5:45 am. Realizeing that I was not going to get out to Concepcion anytime soon, I kept a lookout for a place to clean the truck. I settled on a strip mall style parking lot, where I tied out the dogs and watered them while I cleaned the truck seat. Guerd at the mall kept me silent company and did not seam pleased with my presence and I left after finishing the task at hand. Finally finding my way out, I stpped a park along the cove shoreline and walked the dogs again, both girls crapped. Exiting Concepcion across the over 2000 meter bridge, I headed for Lota at about 7am.

I picked Lota as a destination because of its size and location along the coast and interest in the historical park. Entering Lota, I was not disappointed. It has that old time run down feel of some town out of a Hemingway novel. The seanic road through Alto Lota on the way to the Parque is norrow and along with the two story apartment houses lining the streat give a feel that some of this was here when the streets were not paved and many more carts than cars filled the streets. The Parque was not open and wanting to find a place to relax, let the dogs out for and extended time and write, I headed out of Lota towards Aucon [sp]. Consulting my map I noticed a lookout in the hills between these towns. As I toped the hills, I noticed an unmarked packed dirt and gravel road to the right. I turned down this road and followed it till it forked. The road had been void of houses or fences and I noted several places to camp and am concidering this as a possible camp for this area. At a fork where two gravel roads came together, I took the one to the right and follow just a bit till it ended on into the backside of a neighborhood. Turning around I took the left fork and found it to lead up to the seccluded mirador with three canons overlooking the bay and out into the ocean.

So here I sit, jounaling in the morning Sun, looking out over the bay and into the Pacific Ocean. To my right is Lota and fleet of about 30 fishing boats, with there wenches and cranes, nets and traps all resting alond the coast. On the opposite point on this semicircle cove stands a small lighthouse and I believe it to be in the Parque. To my left is the coastal road to the next town south. A factory on the horizon billows smoke making it look as though it is on fire. Directly in front is a footpath that looks as though it leads down to the tiny beach below, I can see a couple of boats and rude shelters down there and hope to explore it as well later. And further on, the ocean’ steady roll.

Pargue National Huerquehue (where-kay-way) July 22, 2009

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My family and I visited Parque Huerquehue near Villarrica Chile on Saturday. This not only included myself, my sister and her husband, but my 8 year old niece and 6 year old nephew. We spent 6 hours in the forest, hiking, having lunch and taking in the incredible scenery; including waterfalls, and Arauncaria trees.

While not a difficult hike, stretches are steep. Along the way to the top there are side trails for viewing waterfalls. Once at the top, there are three large mountain lakes. I am told that during the spring and summer the lakes are filled with ducks; as for now, they are filled with ice. We in fact did not see any wildlife, but did see the tracks of what appeared to be a medium size canine in the snow, and there is in fact a fox that lives in this region. The only other hikers we encountered where a couple of ecology students from Berkley who where vacationing in the area – down from studying in Santiago for a year. We stopped at one of the three mountain top lakes. Lake side rocks made for stadium style seating as dishes of ham and cheese, salad, cookies and hot tea made their way around.

After lunch we hiked over to Lago Verde, where, while tossing snow balls at my nephew he fell in the freezing cold waters of the lake. His mother, who was almost right next to him, yanked him out of the water within a couple of seconds and the water had not soaked all the way through his pants before we had him out of all of his clothes except his thermal underwear which was still dry. We had present a towel and some extra clothing – go moms – so that after getting him changed and making sure he was ok, we did not rush down.

On the way back down, I worked my way out over a waterfall that is approximately 200 meters high. Because of the water level, this necessitated me removing my shoes and socks and rolling my pants up. As my nephew already knew, the water was fridged. I did not have a thermomator, but it felt like 33 degrees to me. My feet quikly began to numb. I did not take my camera for fear of dropping it however, I can attest to the view, peering midstream over a rushing waterfall. We made the trek down with any further excitement. At home, all felt the achyness of being out-of-shape, but agreed that the pain of the next couple of days would be worth what we gained and vowed to work on being in better condition for the next hike – for myself, I am already failing at this, spending more time in front of my computer and less taking in the awesome nature around me.

Santiago Bus Race July 14, 2009

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While on my way back to the USA a few months ago, I flew out of Santiago, Chile. I have before and continue to equate the Chileans as the Germans of South America with their penchant for rules and efficiencies. But there are always exceptions and extremes. On the way to the airport, from the bus station that severs the long haul buses, I got to experience both.

I was at what I thought was the right bus stop and saw the bus marked airport. The driver waved me forward to another stop; looking, I saw the stop ahead about 100 yards and carrying my pack I knew it was too far. Since the driver was stopped at a light, I pounded on the door. He did not open it and when the light changed, the driver went on to the stop. I ran after the bus but it pulled away from the stop – the buses run on a schedule and I guess I was taking too long. Seeing this, a city bus driver waved me onto his bus. I said ´airport?´ and he waved me to stand in front of the yellow line so not to register as a rider. Then ensured the approximately 5 kilometer bus race through the streets of Santiago as the bus I was on – about the size of a school bus – chased down the one I needed to be on of the same size. Weaving through traffic and making stops!!! along the way, we eventually caught up. Coming up to a light, my bus driver pulled in front of the other. At the red light, I got out and went back to the bus I needed and knocked on the door. That driver waved forward to a stop more than 100 meters passed the light. I shook my head no as I watched the light change. All other traffic started to move forward, but not the bus I needed; the other driver was not moving. Pounding on the door once more, the airport bus driver finally allowed me on and all continued on their way. I am not sure I will ever forget standing in the front of a bus as it wound it´s way through Santiago traffic: dodging cars and pedestrians and frigging making assigned stops all the while.

Fruits and Vegetables July 10, 2009

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While speaking with a friend the other day, I commented on how good the fresh fruits and vegetables are here. This person laughed and informed me that all the best stuff goes to the United States and Chileans get what is considered ´second rate´. I don´t know what happens between when it leaves Chile and arrives in the US, but I have never eaten food that taste as good as the stuff here.

Book Review – A Differant Drummer July 8, 2009

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Read it. Then read anything you can by E.J. Banfield. The insights and caveats of his time hold just as true today. Enjoy the prose on the nature of Australia.

Yeah, thats the review.

Thermals Pellaife July 8, 2009

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It´s no secret that Chile has a ton of thermal baths, termases; but if you haven´t ever visited such a place, you would not know that they can be an almost spiritual experience. After examining several sites and testing the water, I settled on Termas de Pellaife on Lago Pellaife. This place has the right mix of amenities and rustic feel. The cabañas don´t have hot water because you wash in the tinas – an oversized concrete tub with constant hot water flowing. The main pool is outside but has a roof to keep the rain out with another pool completely outside. With all the rain, any pool completely exposed is cold from the rain – which can be a refreshing change from the hot bath, but not something to soak in. I found the other termases to either be resort style, meaning completely indoors and full of people or not having a cover so exposed to the rain. So I took my perch in the main pool with a constant resupply of fresh heated water from the underground thermal. From here I could hear and see the rain falling just a few feet away and watch one of three waterfalls in the distant. When I got too heated, I just jumped out and stood in the bracing rain for a few minutes, then back to the heated pool and the companionship of the elements.

Hace Frio July 8, 2009

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a cold wet chill weighs the smoke from chimneys
cords of wood the height, width and depth of a small house
decorate the sides of homes
or are sheltered in their own hovel
the only warmth comes from the hearth and heart

Back to blogging July 8, 2009

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It has been brought to my attention that I have been remiss in my blogging duties.  So stay tuned new post and pictures are coming, including adventures in returning to the US a few months ago and the ensuing drive from the US back to Chile. Also, more poetry and pics from Latin America.

To anyone who is reading, I hope you find something that make you smile, laugh and generally adds good cheer to your day.

Chao, besitos and nos vemos.

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