Feeling relaxed and refreshed from our trip sailing “on a northbound ferry” up the Chilean Fjords, we set our sights on the island of Chiloe. The island is known for its excellent seafood, natural beauty (which is absolutely striking when the sun is out), and more wooden churches than you can shake a stick at.
The majority of the islanders work on the high seas as fishermen or they cater to the many tourists. With its lush green hills and blue water, Chiloe looks very similar to the Pacific Northwest.
With such a large number of fishing vessels in the area, the seafood was bound to be amazing. We happened upon one restaurant in Castro with an amazing dished called curanto. This meal is full of muscles, clams, chicken, ham, and a few other special ingredients.
This meal could easily cost you an arm and leg at home, but next to the source, it was only around 9 bucks, and that was at a “touristy” restaurant. It was more than enough food for the two of us.
The city of Casto has come up with an interesting solution for finding land to build houses on.
Some of these houses were in better shape than others. Certain ones looked like it might be a good idea to wear a life jacket at all times when inside.
We took a tour of the harbor with the most experienced guide we could find. He was about 11 and gave a great canned, but funny, presentation of the harbor while his Dad drove the boat.
Chiloe is famous for its numerous wooden churches. We drove by many during our time on the island, but were only able to check out a few. Most of the times, we were not too impressed with the outside, and we started to wonder what all the fuss was about.
We tried to get into the Castro church a few times, but we always showed up when it was closed for cleaning or for some other unknown reason. Luckily, we were finally able to get inside the church, and it became clear why everyone could not stop talking about these churches. The woodwork inside was incredible.
This island is full of spruce trees and it seems that many have been put to use in creating these intricate buildings.
The amount of work and attention to detail that went into these churches was insane. We would just hate to be around the day the wood needs to be polished, although that might explain why it has to be closed so much.
In addition to checking out the churches, we visited the Chiloe National Park. This national park is on the Pacific, so we hoped to sit on the beach and enjoy the sun, but it turned out that we had to settle for strong winds, blowing sands, and overcast skies.
The wind was blowing pretty strong at the beach so we got a free exfoliation while attempting to relax in the sand. “We” also had to cross a river to get to the beach, but Kristen found a better way to get across the river.
We took a short hike through the woods near the ocean before heading back to the hostel. This was a very interesting forest, as the trees keeping growing over their old roots. It would have been impossible to walk around, had not been for the pathway.
All in all, we had a good time visiting the cities and National Park on Chiloe. The small towns were fun to wander through, and each had their own charms. Joe really liked the strong maritime presence in this area, and even tried to bring home a souvenir.
Chiloe is a great place to relax, enjoy the beautiful scenery and visit some interesting sights. We especially enjoyed hospitality at the hostel Torre de Babel in Castro, that was provided by Luis and his family. We felt so welcomed that we had a hard time tearing ourselves away. We didn’t think it was possible to find nicer Chileans then the ones we have previously met, but all the people in Chiloe exemplified such kindness, friendliness, and helpfulness that made it much harder to leave.
A special gracias goes out to the man selling popcorn on at the bus station! He saw that we missed a bus by a few minutes (no big deal because there was another in 30 minutes), but he insisted on calling the driver, and then he walked us 3 blocks to make sure we got on OK. People like this will make it difficult to leave Chile.