Friday, January 8, 2016

Chilean Vacay 2015....Part 3.....Chiloe Archipelago

Sunday, Dec 14.....We hired a driver and a guide today to show us around Castro and the neighboring islands....Vincente who spoke great English and was very nice....if not a bit serious!  He knew his Chilean history and culture and made damn sure we did as well.  Everything was "very important, very unique, and very important!!  The first thing we learned....potatoes, potatoes, potatoes...seems there are over 200 varieties of potatoes cultivated on the islands.  We ate quite a few of them, I will say and I'm not sure I tasted any differences, but I don't qualify as an expert in potatology!  We crossed on a cool little ferry that held maybe 10 cars max, to one of the larger islands with "very important" villages.  I will say the island was pretty.....breath-taking views on a perfect day with no rain, a lot of sun and great picture taking.  We went through a number of tiny villages and headed to the "main and most important village"...Achoa.

A couple of things worth noting.  Chileans love to decorate their houses by cutting distinctive patterns in their shingles....most homes are covered in wooden shingles as we might see in the pacific northwest or Maine.  The locals like to make cool and unique patterns in them and we had fun trying to see how many different ones we could find.  There was a simple fish market and crafts market on the shore and we made some purchases of woolen, hand-made items at good prices, tasted a local empanada ..... which was heavy and pretty flavorless but Ed did eat most of it!!

Choritos Ahumados....dried smoked mussels.  These are apparently delicious in seafood stews and soups but I can't personally vouch for them!!

We saw the "most important" church in the area and it was the first church we really enjoyed seeing.  Made entirely of wood and several hundred years old,  (the oldest church in the archipelago)  it looked a lot like an old New England protestant church although, or course, it was a catholic church.  Recently restored, it really was beautiful.

We then headed back to the island Castro was on to see the "most important" craft market in the region.  We heard Sunday market was supposed to be awesome so were looking forward to it.  Well, we might as well have been on Fisherman's Wharf in San Fran  -  touristy and crowded but good deals and Joni and Jill made some fine purchases.

Our last stop was back in Castro to see the palafitos, or stilt houses.  This small grouping is the only one left that is used for residences.  All of the remaining ones have been converted to businesses.

Then, of course, we were very hungry and decided to go back to Mercadito and eat the final items on the menu we had not yet tried....a pulled pork sandwich called "oink", Chilean crab meat with toast, and eel dish that Joni ordered (biggest damn eel I've every seen) but pretty tasty and some dish Ed ordered that was a pile of smoked Octopus on top of potato pudding.  Lots of hugs goodbye from the staff, lots of wine and out of there just in time to make the last tender back to the ship before departure.

We pulled anchor and left port at 6 pm Sunday night.  Dinner was leftovers in the apartment.  Jill made killer quesadillas of leftover chicken, cheese, and avocados.  Of course, more of the great Chilean wine we brought on board, Sunday night football and more Rummikub.  Tonight was Jill's night  -  she couldn't lose  -  and none of the rest of us could win  In perfect symmetry, each of us has had a great night with the kube although it may have something to do with the alcohol content of the players. fishing in Patagonia...

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